GAME DAY: vs. Calgary
Jackets look for back-to-back wins when they host Flames
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|The Calgary Flames have played essentially the same brand of hockey throughout their existence: an up-tempo, physical style of play that gets under the skin of opponents and forces them to make mistakes. No player embodies that mantra like Flames captain Jarome Iginla, one of the NHL’s top power forwards who, at the age of 34, still owns one of the finest scoring touches in the game.
And though that identity hasn’t changed much, new Flames GM Jay Feaster inherited a roster in need of changes. After former GM Darryl Sutter stepped down in the middle of last season, Feaster assumed the interim role and aimed to get the Flames back on track with plenty of season to go. Calgary missed the playoffs, and once he was promoted to full-time GM in the summer, Feaster made it clear the team would not be changing its game but rather its look.
The Flames made roster changes geared toward getting young and less expensive: former center Craig Conroy retired to take a role in the front office, Feaster traded center Daymond Langkow to the Phoenix Coyotes and afforded young players like Roman Horak and Mikael Backlund an opportunity to be impact players for the Flames. Calgary is paced offensively by Alex Tanguay (3-10-13), one of the veteran holdovers, as well as Olli Jokinen. Curtis Glencross and Rene Bourque are two key contributors to a Flames offense that has struggled to score at times this season.
In the bottom six forwards, the Flames are a primarily veteran group led by Tom Kostopolous, David Moss and Tim Jackman. Those three have 12 points among them, proving they can also chip in offensively when needed.
After spending a year outside the NHL, Mark Giordano returned to the Flames in 2008-09 and quickly became their go-to guy on defense once Dion Phaneuf was dealt to Toronto. Giordano posted 11 goals and 30 points in 2009-10 while playing all 82 games, and followed that with a 43-point campaign the next season. Calgary’s blue line lacks “name” recognition, but features two-way players like Jay Bouwmeester who can transition the puck and play a sound defensive game.
Miikka Kiprusoff is back for his 11th NHL season at the age of 35, and is once again the Flames’ top option between the pipes. The Finn goaltender has won at least 35 games six times in his career and has started all but three games for Calgary this season.