Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The NHL Goes Up In Flames

Don't look now, but the Calgary Flames are starting to hit their stride. After a so-so start to the season, the Flames have picked up their game, especially on offense, and just completed a perfect 6-0 road trip. The Flames have yet to lose a game in regulation in the month of December, following head coach Mike Keenan publicly ripping his team after a 4-1 loss to Calgary at home.

Leading the charge for the Flames has been captain Jarome Iginla. Iginla contributed 8 goals and 3 assists on the road trip. He wasn't doing it alone though. Iginla's linemate Kristian Huselius notched 5 goals and 8 assists on the trip, including a pair of 5 point games, and defenseman Dion Phaneuf chipped in with a goal and 8 assists.

The Flames have been doing quite a bit of celebrating lately.

The scariest part of all is that superstar goalie Mikka Kiprusoff has still yet to provide the team with consistent play between the pipes. He has been great some nights, like in his 36 save performance against Columbus, but on other nights he has fallen flat, such as the game in Tampa when he allowed 6 goals to the Lightning. This despite, unsurprisingly, Kiprusoff being the target of much of Mike Keenan's criticism.

As it stands right now they are only a single point behind the Wild for the division lead despite their slow start. Although the Wild and the other teams ahead of them in the Northwest all have games in hand on the Flames. If the Flames can continue to get this high level of play out of their top line, and get some scoring from the depth players and more consistent play from Kiprusoff, they could prove to be a tough team to deal with in the Western Conference.

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