Welcome back to the return of Behind Enemy Lines! Today, Vicki Hall of the Calgary Herald answers a few questions regarding the Flames’ surge up the Western Conference standings, the previous three matchups this season and the resurgence of Jarome Iginla.
It’s clear Vicki put a lot of thought into her answers. If this is one interview you read all the way through, make sure it’s this one.
Bartl: The fluctuating Western Conference standings reordered again Tuesday with Calgary’s win against St. Louis, moving the Flames back ahead of the Blackhawks. Can you shed some light on how Calgary has responded to what’s at stake with each game as it shoots to return to the postseason?
Hall: The Flames have basically been fighting for their playoff lives since Christmas. Seriously. They languished in 14th place at the time and had little, if any, chance of clawing back into the race. Somehow, they’ve done just that by breaking the season into three-game segments and pledging to win at least two out of every three. They’ve accomplished that goal, thus far, but much work remains.
Click the jump for the rest of the Q&A
Bartl: The Flames have won two of the three meetings between the teams, but its safe to say the Blackhawks are playing their best hockey of the season. What do you feel will be the keys to Calgary slowing down Chicago tonight to put more distance between the teams in the standings?
Hall: For the Flames to have a hope at beating the rested Hawks, they need a stellar performance from the defensive pairing of Robyn Regehr and Jay Bouwmeester. Those are the guys responsible for shutting down the all-star line of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp. This has to be a simple road game for the Flames with little in the way of pretty plays and much in the way of clogging up the middle. Calgary can’t win a track meet against Chicago. Not a chance.
Bartl: Jarome Iginla busted out for two goals and two assists against the Blues last night, giving him his first four-point game of the season. He also had a hat trick Nov. 19 in the first meeting against the ‘Hawks and has four goals and an assist against them in the three matchless. What does Chicago need to do in order to contain him Wednesday, and how do you feel Iginla’s play down the stretch will play a role in the Flames’ postseason hopes?
Hall: Well, Duncan Keith might have a lot to say about how Jarome Iginla does/does not perform tonight in Chicago. Iginla was at his best last night in St. Louis, but credit also has to go to his linemates Brendan Morrison and Alex Tanguay. As a group, they combined for nine points against the Blues. Consistency is the key for these guys, as they struggled for a couple games before last night’s breakout performance in St. Louis.
Regardless, Calgary needs Iginla in top form to survive this playoff race. No question there.
Bartl: Any predictions for tonight’s game?
Hall: Hmm. Well, the Flames are tired. The Hawks aren’t. Based on that alone, let’s say 4-3 Hawks.
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