March 08 2013 11:26AM
Unlike most people, your Calgary Flames really hate going to Disneyland.
While other people go to Disneyland, ride Space Mountain and fill themselves up with cotton candy and childhood whimsy, all the Flames do in Anaheim is lose. The last time the Calgary Flames won a hockey game in Anaheim was January 19, 2004. That was before the last two NHL lockouts.
The Flames roster included Roman Turek, Jamie McLennan, Denis Gauthier, Jordan Leopold, Chuck Kobasew, Shean Donovan, Chris Clark, Matthew Lombardi, Oleg Saprykin, Lynn Loyns, Andrew Ference, Craig Conroy, Martin Gelinas, Josh Green, Steven Reinprecht, Robyn Regehr, Toni Lydman, Krzysztof Oliwa, Dean McAmmond and Rhett Warrener. Conroy had a four-point night and Gelinas had the game-winning goal in a 5-1 rout. Both are currently part of the Flames hockey operations department and both, oddly, will be in the building for the Flames' return to the house of horrors. The only Flames still around from that era are Miikka Kiprusoff and Jarome Iginla, who by sheer coincidence both missed that game due to injury.
Since January 2004, the Flames have lost 15 straight regular season visits to Anaheim's Honda Center, going 0-10-5 in the process. In a more encouraging note, the Flames have gone 0-3-5 over the last four seasons in Anaheim, so at least they're getting points. But they'd much rather get two points, particularly in a season where they're trying to stay above that pesky .500 mark.
Can the Flames change the House of Mouse from a house of horrors into a house of victory? Find out tonight at 8:30pm MT on Sportsnet 960 The Fan and Sportsnet West.
The Flames have quietly been on a bit of a tear of late, going 4-1-1 in their last six and picking up wins over Minnesota, Phoenix, Vancouver and San Jose. That's got to give them some confidence. More encouragingly, the Flames have scored four or more goals in four of their last five games – the lone exception being their 2-1 overtime loss against Minnesota. Now that Miikka Kiprusoff is back in the saddle, the message is likely “if you can score four, you should always win.”
Jarome Iginla has six goals in his last five games. The Flames' PK has only allowed two goals in the last nine games (or two in the last 30 kills), while the PP has produced four goals in the same time-span. If that continues, the team will be in good shape.
Given Calgary's success last game it's not likely that they'll change up their line substantially. Here's how things ended last game.
- Glencross – Stajan - Stempniak
- Hudler – Cervenka – Iginla
- Tanguay – Cammalleri - Comeau
- Baertschi – Jackman - McGrattan
- Giordano – Bouwmeester
- Wideman – Butler
- Brodie – Smith
The obvious change may come on the fourth line, as Comeau may stay on the third line but that leaves the fourth without an actual centre. So expect somebody to rotate out so that Steve Begin can slot back in. The top two lines both performed rather well against San Jose, while Chris Butler ate up a ton of minutes.
The Ducks are rolling, with just three regulation losses all season and a 3-0-2 record in their last five games. Oddly, their last three games have been against the Phoenix Coyotes. The club is second only to those pesky Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference standings.
Here's how their lines were last game.
- Getzlaf – Perry - Ryan
- Winnik – Koivu – Cogliano
- Beleskey – Bonino – Selanne
- McMillan – Holland - Etem
- Fowler – Lydman
- Beauchemin - Souray
- Sbisa - Lovejoy
I'd expect Victor Fasth to start, but that's merely a guess as he's their number-one nowadays. That Ducks top line is quite good (combining for 66 points so far), while their second line is also pretty solid. Their fourth line has potential, which is a polite way of saying they're not great yet but might be at some point down the road. Also, Ryan Getzlaf was re-signed for 8 years today, so expect him to be their first line center until the next lock-out.
The last time the Flames faced the Ducks, Ben Lovejoy was with the Penguins. His addition fills out their defense corps a bit and makes them a bit harder to play against. Of course, the thing that makes them tough to play against is the fact that the team has bought into Bruce Boudreau's systems and are playing a strong team game.
SUM IT UP
The Ducks are quite good and have already beaten Calgary this year. But with the Flames full of piss and vinegar with a handful of recent wins and the return of Miikka Kiprusoff, there may be no better time than the present for Calgary to exorcise some Disneyland demons.
After all, the losing streak in the O.C. has to end eventually, right? Right?