by Marc Ciampa
November 11th, 2002

AP Photo

Toni Lydman: The Flames powerplay personnel, including blueliner Toni Lydman need to start contributing.


After four games through three states across the entire length of the United States Atlantic coast, the Calgary Flames (5-4-3-2; Tied for 2nd Northwest Division) play the most pivotal game of their road trip this afternoon against the league's worst team, the Atlanta Thrashers (2-9-1-1; 5th South Division). The last time the Flames won a game in Atlanta they were the home team and the year was 1980. Since the Thrashers came into existence, Calgary is 0-2-1 at the Philips Arena.

What makes this game so pivotal is that it is essentially the difference between a .700 road trip and a .500 road trip with a major collapse near the tail end. Plus, given that the team has one of the league's best road records but only one home win in seven games going into a five-game homestand that starts Thursday they need the confidence just about as much as they need the points.


  • Get to the Thrashers early. Atlanta is a team with a very fragile confidence right now, and as a matter of fact so is Calgary. An early goal or two would get the Flames back on track and put the Thrashers on their heels. 
  • Score! You can't win if you don't score, and the Flames haven't done much scoring of late. Their last goal was Chris Drury's game winner last Tuesday in New Jersey-137:30 of playing time has passed since then.


The Thrashers are 28th in the league in shutouts against with two, but the Flames have twice as many against them in this young season and sit dead last in the league in that category. Calgary only has four losses total this season but three were shutout defeats. The other shutout loss was in overtime, of course, against the Rangers earlier on this road trip. The Flames are averaging 2.53 goals per game, but in games where they score at least one goal their average is a league-best 3.45 goals per game … The Thrashers are on about as hot a streak as you'll see them in at any point this season. They have two wins and a tie in their last four games.


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a poll asking what is the best tandem going in Atlanta sports right now. Listed in the poll is Glavine/Maddux (Braves - 9%), Vick/Kerney (Falcons - 12%), Robinson/Terry (Hawks - 3%), Greene/Edwards (Georgia - 39%), Suggs/Clinkscale (Georgia Tech - 37%). No Thrashers players are mentioned within fifty miles of the poll, though you would think that Heatley/Kovalchuk would warrant a mention.


Calgary: Roman Turek (broken finger) is out. Jamie Wright (neck) is day-to-day.

Atlanta: Uwe Krupp (back) is out for three months. What else is new?


Calgary: The whole team. Lately it seems as if nobody can score, and if it takes the team awhile to score this afternoon in a building they’ve traditionally struggled in, they’ll be flying home with a .500 road trip.

Atlanta: Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk make up the offensive heart of the club. Goaltending has been an issue so far this season, with Pasi Nurminen and Milan Hlincka struggling between the pipes. The twice-goose-egged Flames could be just what the doctor ordered for them.


“We knew they were a hard-working hockey club and we have the players to outwork teams and out-compete teams but we didn't do that. It just seems we weren't willing to pay the price in the tough areas, to do the dirty work to be successful.”– Flames head coach Greg Gilbert pulling out the ‘Flames lose against team they should beat’ post-game interview script following Saturday’s loss to Florida.

"We weren't good enough because we didn't win but we're still doing a lot of good things and playing well. We'll get it next game. We probably didn't create those quality scoring chances that we'd like but it's one game and now we can go win in Atlanta and it's a very good road trip.”Flames forward Jarome Iginla after Saturday’s game in Florida.

"He put $1,000 on the board for the win so the guys could go out and have some fun. We wanted to make him pay."Atlanta head coach Curt Fraser on Thrashers defenceman Richard Smehlik, who put up $1000 to the team if they could pull out a win against the Sabres. Atlanta won 6-4. Smehlik helped his own cause by being an incredible +6 in the game.




This is the only meeting of the season between the Flames and Thrashers.

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