Preparing for the Calgary Flames
As the Capitals look to bounce back from a disappointing showing in a 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild, they know they'll have to contend with a Calgary Flames squad equally intent on claiming a statement win of their own.
The Flames enter Saturday's game coming off a sloppy 6-5 loss to the Colorado Avalanche and want to end the month on a positive note in front of the home crowd at the Saddledome. Both teams are 6-4 through the first month of the season, which neither squad believes is good enough.
"You want to set the bar high and you don't want to be satisfied with mediocrity," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Calgary is not used to it, and in recent years we're not used to it. We don't want to be mediocre. We want to be one of the elite teams. Six and four might have been good four years ago, but the bar has been raised. We don't feel we've played very well over the course of 10 games. We've had bits and pieces of good games, but overall we haven't done a very good job. We're looking for more consistency, as is Calgary."
The Capitals' power play has scored on just four of 38 attempts for a success rate of 10.5 percent through 10 contests and the task to get the unit firing once again won't get easier against Calgary. The Flames, like the Capitals, boast one of the top-10 penalty killing squads through the first month of the season and each has only given up five goals while shorthanded.
In addition to Calgary's 36-for-41 track record in penalties killed, the Flames are tied with Philadelphia for the league lead in shorthanded goals with three
"You know they're coming at you and they're going for goals when they get the opportunity," Boudreau said. "We have to make sure that if we don't get the puck or if the puck goes down the ice that we have five guys coming back. We can't just sit and have two guys floating up at the blueline or three guys and [that] Mike [Green] and Alex [Ovechkin] are going to get the puck to them. They've all got to come back and help."
The Capitals' struggling power play and Alex Ovechkin's recent goal-scoring drought as he has found the back of the net just once in the past six games however has the Flames' defensemen even more on edge, because they know both are bound to break out eventually.
"I don't like it because I know [Ovechkin's] going to be pressing harder to score," said defenseman Mark Giordano, who was signed to a five-year, $20.1 million extension by the Flames Friday and has been one of Calgary's best players this season. "We just feel like we have to play our game and force them into our game because you don't want to play run and gun with this type of team. They have too many weapons that will hurt you."
Said Flames veteran defenseman Robyn Regher: "We don't want to give them any chances out there.If we take zero penalties tonight I'd be very happy."
Emotions will certainly be running high for a number of reasons for the Capitals tonight in their third game in four nights to wrap up this cross-continental road trip. There's the way the coaching staff challenged the Capitals to respond from the loss to Minnesota and continue to search for consistency, but many players have a significant number of family and friends in attendance for this game that will also be on Hockey Night in Canada.
Defensemen Mike Green, Jeff Schultz and Tyler Sloan are all Calgary natives, Karl Alzner played junior hockey here with the WHL's Hitmen and the families of other western-Canada natives Brooks Laich, Eric Fehr and D.J. King have also made the journey to attend the contest.
"To play in front of your family, they don't get to see us play live very often, so it's exciting for them and it's exciting for me," Green said. "We expect to bounce back. We don't want to lose two games in a row, that's our goal all year. We had a setback last game and we have to prove ourselves again this game. We can't take steps backwards."
| October 30, 2010; 4:00 PM ET
Categories: Calgary Flames
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