by D'Arcy McGrath
November 9th, 2002

AP Photo

Into the Den: Flame's assistant coach Brian Skrudland will be inducted into the Panther's Den tonight. Skrudland captained Florida's surprise Cinderella team to the 1996 Cup finals.


It will be interesting.

With a "good" trip already in the bag, will the Calgary Flames, unlike past years, have the gumption to take it that one step further and make it a "great" trip?

For most teams a .500 road trip is the aim, the acid test separating a good trip from a complete failure. Over the course of a season, a club that can post a .500 road record quite often finds their way into the playoffs.

There will be times this season where the opposite is true ... a road trip starts on the wrong foot with late wins needed to salvage the odyssey. The Flames had better take advantage, and put as many points away as possible.

The Florida Panthers may not be the easy tough that many have made them out to be. They sit only one game below .500 after a modest 2-1-0-1 run that saw them go to overtime on three different occasions.


  • Whip the Weak. The Calgary Flames will need to assert themselves against the bottom third of the league if they wish to move out of the bottom third of the league themselves. Too many times in recent seasons, the Flames have been giant killers against top teams only to fall flat against clubs with no chance at the playoffs.
  • Get that #12 guy going. Early season success is always nice. Early season success without much help from a player that most of the hockey world considers to be your only asset is down right fun. This can't continue however.
  • Get on 'em early. The Panthers are a young team with limited expectations this season, a quick lead could make the night go much more smoothly. 


Has anyone noticed that goon Chris Clark now leads the team in penalty minutes? With 23 minutes in 14 games Clark is on pace for a paltry 135 minutes. ... The Flames have seen an improvement in their goals for and goals against position. While they've fallen from 11th in goal scoring in recent weeks, they've made a firm move up the standings in terms of goal prevention. The club now sits 14th in goals for at 2.71/game, and 16th in goals against at 2.29. ... Florida sits 16th and 27th respectively. ... The Flames have the 8th best shooting percentage in the NHL (10.8%). Martin Gelinas and Mattias Johansson lead the club at 25.0%. Jarome Iginla is way down the list at 6.4%. ... Jordan Leopold and Chuck Kobasew are both tied for 10th in rookie scoring, along with Florida's Stephen Weiss. Leopold was -6 in his first five NHL games, but has been an even player since (total of 10 games). ... The Flames are 18th in the league in average home attendance (in terms of percentage), they sit 15th if you rank them by total butts in the seats through seven home games this season. 


Calgary: Roman Turek (broken finger) is out. Craig Conroy (badly bruised ankle) and Jamie Wright are questionable.

Florida: The Panthers are without Paul Laus (wrist) and Branislave Mezei (ankle). Goaltender Roberto Luongo is doubtful with a twisted back.


Calgary: The whole team in the game's first ten minutes. If the Flames can grab hold of this one, they can really run the table on this road trip. If they come out flat however they will likely have a tough time of it. ... Jarome Iginla, the guy simply has to find the back of the net soon. The Flames have found some great mileage without their star scoring, but that can't last forever. ... Jamie McLennan. The backup goaltender has already equaled Mike Vernon's win and points total from last season with over 80% of the schedule to come.

Florida: Former Flames Val Bure is on a hot streak with four points in his last four games, including two overtime goals. ... Jani Hurme. With Roberto Luongo on the sidelines, the former Senator stopper will have to carry the mail for the Cats. ... The game will feature the Flame's first look at Jay Bouwmeester. The Alberta product has two assists and is a -2 in 14 games with the Panthers. He's averaged just over 15 minutes of ice time a game.


"If you're going to throw away points by taking an opponent lightly, it's a sign of disrespect. It's a sign of disrespect to the opposition and a sign of disrespect to your teammates and a surefire way to disaster.". Flames coach Greg Gilbert on tonight's opposition.

"I saw a lot of frustrated faces. Guys are really upset about losing and aren't happy. That's a good sign, guys really want to win. We did get five out of six but we could have had six points. The fact guys aren't happy about that shows they care because we don't want guys on our team that accept losing." Denis Gauthier on the club's reaction to losing the Ranger game in overtime.

"Mike always takes one guy and makes him his project. Now, he's got Olli Jokinen, who's playing well and who he's playing the crap out of. Mike always does that. I was lucky I was the guy in Vancouver. It's a weird kind of loyalty, but it seems to work."Dave Scatchard on the coaching methods of Mike Keenan.


The Flames and Panthers played twice last season with the Calgary side capturing three out of the possible four points. The two clubs tied in Miami, while the Flames eked out a win at the Saddledome.


This is the only meeting between the two clubs this season.

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