by Marc Ciampa
December 12th, 2002
|In / Out?: All eyes will be on the dressing room tunnel to see if #12 comes through the shute.
Since the firing of coach Greg Gilbert, the Calgary Flames (8-13-3-3; 5th Northwest Division) have stopped losing ground in the Western Conference playoff race. But despite a 2-0-1 record in their last three games, they haven't gained any ground on their opponents either.
Carolina (12-11-4-3; 2nd Southeast) on the outset seems ripe for a defeat tonight. Having lost last night in Edmonton – their fourth straight – they will be a weary bunch and the perfect opportunity for the Flames to extend their unbeaten string.
However, as the Flames witnessed firsthand on Monday, what's expected to happen doesn't always come to fruition. If the team plays a similar type game to their last two outings chances are they won't be as fortune with respect to the outcome.
BY THE NUMBERS:
The Hurricanes have been outscored 14-5 in their last four games… The Flames have only defeated the Hurricanes once since they moved from Hartford in five home games… Erik Cole has caught fire for the 'Canes. In his last nine games, he has nine goals and 13 points… Chris Drury and Stephane Yelle combined have only one goal in the last 14 Flames games… Carolina's power play (18.9% - 7th) and penalty killing (85.9% - 8th) both rank in the top ten in the league… Calgary's power play has improved somewhat in the last four games, now ranked 27th in the league at 12.5%. The team is 4-for-16 (25%) in that time span… Penalty killing remains strong at 85.3% (11th).
Calgary: Jamie Wright (neck). Jordan Leopold (shoulder) and Jarome Iginla (groin) are questionable. Rob Niedermayer (knee) is out for two weeks.
Carolina: Kevin Weekes (concussion) is out. Sami Kapanen (groin) is day-to-day.
WHO TO WATCH:
Calgary: The biggest thing to watch tonight will be the line combinations. Last game Saprykin and Mathias Johansson played on the top line, and both came through with strong games. With Niedermayer out, another player will get a shot at cracking the top six. Even money says that it'll be Chris Clark who's moved up.
Carolina: Arturs Irbe played last night in Edmonton but is likely to start again tonight due to the injury to Kevin Weekes. Playing both games on back-to-back nights isn't likely to affect Irbe, however, as he's played more than 70 games in a season several times in his career.
"We know what we want and what we intend to do is come up with it. We're going about this process methodically ... We probably have more than one solution that's acceptable at this point. But we want a fantastic solution." –Flames president Ken King on the current search for a head coach.
"If you went through the regular protocol, yeah, you'd like a couple of practices but sometimes when you have really good players, you just ask them to play a couple of shifts and it turns into 18 minutes," –Flames head coach Al MacNeil on the possibility of Jarome Iginla returning to the lineup tonight.
"Any time you go to the finals, you get a lot of memories and play with some special people. It's going to be fun to see the boys." – Current Flame and former Hurricane Martin Gelinas.
HEAD TO HEAD:
FLAMES LAST 10 GAMES vs. HURRICANES/WHALERS:
Calgary and Carolina don't meet again this season.