Flames Struggling to Gain Ground in Northwest Division

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Flames Struggling to Gain Ground in Northwest Division
Icon Sports MediaThe Calgary Flames have a rough road ahead of them this weekend as they play back-to-back games against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday and the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.  This will mark the third matchup of the season against both division rivals.

The Calgary squad got their first win of November against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night at home snapping a five game losing streak.  Dion Phaneuf was the definite war horse for the Flames as he came out with a physical presence from the get-go, and giving the Flames their first goal of the contest.  In the end, thanks to a late Kristian Huselius goal in the third period, the home team got a much needed 3-2 victory.

The Flames definitely need to continue on the winning side of things if they wish to make up some ground within the Northwest Division.  They currently sit fourth with a two point lead over the Oilers, and six points back of the Colorado Avalanche who hold the top spot.

It seems like the same old habits just seem to be following the Flames year-after-year.

The team is just taking way too many penalties, and they sit twenty-eighth overall on the penalty kill at 74.1% on the road so far this season. These penalties are a real burden for the struggling squad, especially with most of the penalties coming at late stages of games when they have already been trailing.  As the Flames have only allowed twenty goals on ninety-eight attempts, this should seem pretty high considering the talent their team has, such as veterans, Jarome Iginla, Daymond Langkow, Robyn Regehr Dion Phaneuf and, Miikka Kiprusoff, who are all on the 2008 All-Star voting ballot.

Another issue which has contributed to the Flames recent downfall, is the lack of production from the veterans they should be able to count on in the time of need.

One of the main players that seem to stand out is veteran right wing, Owen Nolan.
 
Nolan was one of the biggest names brought to the Flames in the offseason. Considering the hype and expectations of him, he has been nothing that the team hoped for, contributing only one goal and four assists this season.

Another great veteran who should be shining more than he has been is born again Flame, Craig Conroy.

With the Flames resigning Conroy last January—sending Jamie Lundmark to Los Angeles—the Calgary squad was hoping to see that great leader that helped take them to the 2004 Stanley Cup finals.  With only five goals and eleven assists in fifty-two games with the Kings, Conroy seemed to feel more at home as he scored two goals in his first game back in the Flames uniform.  Well, two goals are exactly what Craig Conroy has brought to the table this year along with three assists.

With the team struggling early in the season, head coach Mike Keenan might have to drop that “Iron Fist,” which we have all heard so much about, but have not yet seen.  It's either that, or drop the gone-soft coach.

As players like Langkow and Warrener have returned to the lineup after recovering from injuries, Keenan now has some room to make some changes by dropping players like Conroy and Nolan to other lines and bringing up the players that deserve to play with Jarome Iginla.

The Calgary Flames look to improve their recent ways during their three days off and, look to win their second straight game.

Rexall Place is now the site of the Flames next game, as they take on the Edmonton Oilers in the third installment of the Battle of Alberta this season.  The teams are tied with one win a piece, with the latest victory going to the Edmonton Oilers last Saturday in Calgary. 
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