by Marc Ciampa
November 27th, 2002
|Unacceptable: Trouble scoring goals? Fine ... but giving up seven with improved defensive depth?
It doesn't get any easier for the Calgary Flames (6-10-3-3; 5th Northwest Division).
Heading into tonight's game in Washington—arguably the most winnable in a road trip that takes the club through Boston, Denver, Detroit and St. Louis—the Flames are in a situation where a loss could have disastrous repercussions on the remainder of the season and, quite possibly, Greg Gilbert's job.
But make no mistake about it, the Capitals (9-11-2-0; 4th Southeast Division) will be no pushover either. The Flames haven't defeated Washington since the 1998-99 season and only have two wins in their last ten at the MCI Center. Making things worse, the Flames have never been very good in the second game of back-to-back nights. At least the Capitals will be just as road weary, having played last night in Toronto, a 5-4 setback.
So where do the Flames go from here? The moment they step on the ice they're looking like a team that's already lost the game. Their confidence is waning at the most critical point in the season. In the past, Flames teams have come out fighting when their backs were against the wall (at least until March) so hopefully they can prove everyone wrong once again.
KEYS TO SUCCESS:
Don't play like you did last night. All things being equal, Greg Gilbert came out with a horrible game plan last night. Right from the start, the Flames were a tentative bunch and seemed afraid to attack with the puck. Granted, the Bruins are one of the most explosive teams in the league but you can't sit back. The Flames need to get back to their aggressive forechecking style.
Goaltending. Both Turek and McLennan were hung out to dry last night, but then neither really made a big save to possibly turn the game's momentum around. It's become apparent that in order to win some games on this road trip, the Flames are going to need some miraculous goaltending.
BY THE NUMBERS:
The numbers are starting to look ugly. 46 goals for, 63 goals against on the season. Jarome Iginla minus-12 rating. Craig Conroy, last year's Selke Finalist minus-8 rating. The Flames are not one of the top teams in the league but you can't help but shake your head as they continue to play below expectations. … Last year at this point in the season the team had 14 more points, 20 more goals for and 14 less goals against. A team like this should not be battling it out with the Nashville and Atlanta's of the world. … Remember when the Flames played Boston about a month ago and the out-worked, out-played Bruins were lucky to escape the Saddledome with a point? … The Flames actually outshot Boston 31-30 last night despite getting horribly crushed on the scoreboard.
Calgary: Bob Boughner (broken thumb) and Chris Drury (broken finger) are out. Jamie Wright (neck) is questionable.
Washington: Stephen Peat (hand) is out, RW Peter Bondra (back spasms) is questionable.
WHO TO WATCH:
Calgary: Petr Buzek has been one of the few bright spots for the Flames lately. He's riding a three-game point streak currently and has been one of Calgary's best defencemen throughout the slump.
Washington: Jaromir Jagr seems to have found his scoring touch once again, with 24 points in 22 games. Robert Lang hasn't missed a beat since moving to Washington from Pittsburgh. He has 19 points to rank second on the Capitals.
"Boston played well. They executed their game ... and we let them. I don't think we won very many one-on-one battles or contested them or pushed them very hard in any of the areas of the game tonight. There's no reasons, no excuses for not playing with passion and intensity every shift." –Flames head coach Greg Gilbert
"They're a good team and they played a good game. We're a good team but we played a bad game. That combination doesn't lead to very good results." –Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr, who's half right.
FLAMES LAST 10 GAMES vs. CAPITALS
March 20th at the Pengrowth Saddledome..