by Marc Ciampa
October 14th, 2002

AP Photo

Conservative Aggression Players like Begin need to be aggressive, but without taking penalties.


The whispers could be heard immediately following the team’s second loss of the season Saturday night at home to Philadelphia: The Calgary Flames, two games into the 2002-03 season, already have as many losses as they did 21 games into 2001-02.

The pessimists will say given the way the team collapsed in the second half of last season there’s no way they can survive any sort of stumble out of the gates this year. The optimists will say two games does not a season make. The reality falls somewhere in between.

Certainly, the season is 82 games long and two losses are just that – two losses. But where do you draw the line? You could argue that their opponents in the first two games, and tonight’s game as well by default, are formidable foes but the reality is Vancouver is one of the teams the Flames will be battling with for the final playoff spot. The Canucks aren’t a pushover but then not many Western Conference teams are. A big loss tonight would do more than put the team at the 0-3 mark to start the season, it would establish that the Flames are a step below the tier of teams they need to compete with to make the playoffs.

The Flames are probably thankful tonight’s game is on the road considering they have lost five straight home games to the Canucks, dating back to December 29, 2000. All-time the Flames are 98-58-30-1 against Vancouver.


Last season the Flames allowed 76 of their 216 goals against in the first period of play, while the Canucks scored 87 out of their 254 goals in the opening frame. That trend continued last Thursday as Vancouver scored all three of its markers in the first period of play. ... The Canucks have managed eight goals through two games, surrendering only three. The Flames have allowed eight goals through two games, scoring only four. ... Calgary has the league's tenth ranked powerplay through two games at 20%, while Vancouver sits 6th at 23%. ... Vancouver has been picture perfect killing penalties, 10 for 10 down a man. The Flames sit way down the list at 19th, good for only 81% on the kill. 


Calgary: Jordan Leopold (concussion) is doubtful.

Vancouver: Trevor Linden is out 2-4 weeks.


Calgary: Perhaps the heading should be titled “What to Watch” instead of “Who to Watch” for tonight’s game. So far this early season, the Flames penalty killing has been terrible. Off-season acquisitions such as Stephane Yelle and late 2001-02 acquisition Blake Sloan has done nothing to improve on the league’s worst penalty killing unit but the fault should not lie with the players. Calgary’s coaching staff needs to realize that in order for the team to be successful killing penalties they need to be more aggressive. Sitting back and remaining in a passive box will reduce the number of outside shots but it leaves the team vulnerable to passing plays such as Jeremy Roenick’s game winner Saturday night. If the penalty killing falters against the Canucks’ big guns it’ll be another long night for the Flames.

Vancouver: Clearly, the Vancouver Canucks have picked up exactly where they left off last season. Their dominant first line of Todd Bertuzzi, Brendan Morrison and Markus Naslund is starting to establish itself as a force to be reckoned with early on.


"I've just got to try and keep things positive, people say I have a bad attitude ... I don't have a bad attitude. If you ask the guys here, that's the reason I stayed. Every guy came to me in Banff and said they wanted me to be a part of this. Guys who say I have a bad attitude, I don't know where they get that from." - Marc Savard on his well documented relationship with the team.

"There's too many guys upstairs watching. They can adjust. They can radio down to the bench now, it's one of those things -- you've got to take as few penalties as you can. I know we keep going back to that, but it's their best players -- they're paid to score. We're paid to stop them. It's a battle of wills at that point." - Blake Sloan on killing penalties.


Last Five games against the Canucks:




10/10/02 vs. VAN 3-0 L 04/13/02 vs. VAN 4-1 L
02/09/02 at VAN 4-3 W
02/08/02 vs. VAN 1-4 L
01/26/02 vs. VAN 0-2 L

10/10/02 vs. VAN 3-0 L 4/13/02 vs. VAN 1-4 L
02/08/02 at VAN 0-2 L
01/26/02 vs. VAN 0-2 L
01/27/01 vs. VAN 3-5 L

02/09/02 at VAN 4-3 W
12/27/01 at VAN 2-4 L
02/10/01 at VAN 4-1 W
01/14/01 at VAN 1-5 L
10/18/00 at VAN 1-4 L

NEXT MEETING: The Flames don't play the Canucks again until December 9th in Vancouver.

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