THE STATS LINE
21-20-6 record [22nd overall (in points percentage)]
2.36 goals-for per game [27th overall]
2.77 goals-against per game [14th overall]
17.1% power-play success rate [19th overall]
82.4% penalty-kill success rate [17th overall]
45.0% in the face-off circle [30th overall]
THE WEEK THAT WAS
- January 12: The Flames beat the visiting Anaheim Ducks 1-0 in overtime. Newcomer Blair Jones converted a pass from the returning Mark Giordano to get Calgary the win. Despite being scoreless in regulation, this game was probably more exciting than it had any right to be.
- January 14: In Darryl Sutter’s return to Calgary, the L.A. Kings best the Flames 4-1. Calgary did not play particularly well, being out-played in most areas of the contest. Mike Cammalleri returned to the Flames and scored the lone Calgary goal. Calgary’s eight-game home winning streak was snapped.
- January 17: In the first of three games on the road, the Flames lose 2-1 in a shootout to the San Jose Sharks. The Flames lead 1-0 through 40 minutes (despite playing an iffy second period) and play a tremendous third period, but get scored on in the third to force extra time.
CAMMALLERI RETURNS TO THE C OF RED
The Flames welcomed a familiar face back to the fold on Thursday night, acquiring Mike Cammalleri (along with KHL netminder Karri Ramo and a fifth round pick) from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Rene Bourque, prospect Patrick Holland and a 2013 second round pick.
Cammalleri played the 2008-09 campaign with Calgary, after being acquired in a three-way trade with Los Angeles and Montreal at the 2008 Entry Draft. He was a point-per-game player with the Flames, scoring 39 goals, and the hope is that he can inject life into the team’s power-play.
He played in two games this week, scoring one goal and going minus-1. He played 20 minutes on Tuesday night, playing on a very effective line with Mikael Backlund and Jarome Iginla.
THE CAPTAIN CHATS ABOUT NEW FACES
With the Flames currently down a lot of regulars due to injury, they’ve been forced to rely on call-ups from the Abbotsford Heat much more than they typically would. While nobody down on the farm has proven to be a hidden diamond in the rough quite yet, they’ve all performed rather well in the Flames line-up.
- F Paul Byron: 2 goals, 1 assist, plus-2 in 18 games
- F Greg Nemisz: 0 points, even in 2 games
- F Lance Bouma: 1 goal, plus-2 in 5 games
- D Clay Wilson: 0 points, even in 2 games
- D T.J. Brodie: 2 goals, 8 assists, even in 33 games
- G Leland Irving: 1 win, 1 loss, 2 overtime losses, 3.66 goals against in 4 games
Calgary’s captain Jarome Iginla noted that the performances of the new guys have allowed the Flames to keep pace in the uber-competitive Western Conference.
“That’s been definitely a big positive for our team,” said Iginla. “It’s given us a chance to stay in the playoff race. A lot of teams, when you lose as many key guys as we’ve lost, it can put you in a tailspin and you can be out of the playoffs and have no chance to get back, or a real remote chance. We’ve been very fortunate. Guys have come up and played really well.”
Iginla also explained that the presence of so much players fairly new to the NHL gives the veterans a bit of a boost, noting that the excitement from the call-ups often injects energy into the room.
“It’s nice to have that youth injection and that excitement to be in the NHL,” said Iginla. “We’re always excited, but it always makes you appreciate it more when the young guys come up and you remember when you were that way and trying to ease the transition.”
COACH SUTTER TALKS ABOUT FACE-OFFS
A quick glance at the NHL’s team stats reveal a serious deficiency for Calgary: face-offs. While face-offs themselvs aren’t a huge determinant of who wins and loses, they do determine possession in a great deal of situations – something that in turn impacts the game in a huge way. Only two of the current Flames (Jarome Iginla and newcomer Blair Jones) are right-handed face-off men, leaving the rest of the club’s drawmen as lefties. Flames head coach Brent Sutter explained the importance of winning draws.
“Face-offs are a big part of the game,” said Sutter. “It’s puck possession time, it’s having the puck and not chasing it to start with. We haven’t been great on that throughout the year. We need to get better at it and getting Jones in here, it’s a right-handed guy you can play and obviously take those draws on the right side.”
Sutter noted that the team’s left-handed centres need to be better in draws. Outside of Brendan Morrison (51%), no left-handed Flames is winning a lot of face-offs. The others include Matt Stajan (47%), Mikael Backlund (46%), Olli Jokinen (44%) and Roman Horak (39%). When the team’s losing 60% of their face-offs, it leaves a sizable gap in the possession game. The addition of Mike Cammalleri to the forward ranks will hopefully help the team win more face-offs.
“That’s the side that’s really effected us, it’s been on the left side,” said Sutter. “I know Mo’s been right on that 50%, but he hasn’t played a whole lot. The other guys have all been down around that 40%. That’s where we need to get better at, our left side has to be better, and if Cammy can help us get better that’d be great.”
DISPATCHES FROM THE FARM
- AHL: The injury-riddled Abbotsford Heat dropped two of three road games this week (all in the midst of three games in three nights on the road in Texas and Oklahoma). The Heat still sit near the top of the AHL, in part due to Danny Taylor’s goaltending and the veteran leadership of Krys Kolanos, Ben Walter, Jon Rheault and others. Greg Nemisz went down with an upper-body injury this week and will be out a few weeks.
- WHL: All Flames prospects are presently on playoff-bound teams, although Brandon has been struggling. Michael Ferland (and the rest of the team) isn’t scoring at his prior rate, which explains the team’s slide down the standings. Oil Kings G Laurent Brossoit is second in the Dub in wins, while Winterhawks F Sven Baertschi returned from a concussion suffered during the World Juniors on Monday night. He had an assist.
- D Scott Hannan returned to action against the Sharks and is off the IR. Clay Wilson was returned to Abbotsford to make room.
- D Brett Carson has returned to the Flames following his two-week AHL conditioning stint and is off the IR.
- F Brendan Morrison (upper body) was placed on the IR this week. He joins F Alex Tanguay (upper body), F Matt Stajan (ankle), F David Moss (foot), D Derek Smith (ankle) and G Henrik Karlsson (knee) on the shelf. Tanguay, Stajan and Karlsson are skating again.
The Flames continue their road trip with visits to Los Angeles on Thursday and Edmonton on Friday. They cap off their pre-All-Star schedule with a home date on Tuesday with the San Jose Sharks.