Flames hope to get back on track vs. Habs
The Flames (10-7-1) began November with back-to-back wins on home ice before dropping two of three games during a road trip to California last week that ended with a 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.
“I think we came off the road trip not feeling great about what we accomplished,” said goaltender Mike Smith, who played well against the Sharks but still suffered the loss after stopping 26 of 28 shots he faced. “We know we’re a better team than we played, so I think it’s nice to get back home, get some practice time in and we’re excited about another home game.”
Smith is also excited to get the start against the Canadiens (9-6-3) and is hoping to improve his sub-par 5-6-1 record along with his 3.51 goals against average and .877 save percentage.
“Last game, an unfortunate result, but I felt like I was more like myself,” said Smith, who knows full well that he’s been outplayed by back-up goalie David Rittich (5-1-0, 1.91 goals against average, .935 save percentage) early in the season. “I made some big saves at key times (against San Jose) and tried to keep the team in there when it mattered the most.
“At points in the season, it hasn’t been there, so I think it was nice to get in a game like that and keep it close as long as we could there, and have a good couple days of practice and feel good still. It’s about going into (on Thursday) and just being myself and hopefully get a big win.”
After scoring 11 goals in their first two games in November, the Flames have found the back of the net just four times in their past three outings.
Calgary coach Bill Peters stressed the importance of getting off to a fast start against the Canadiens in hopes of getting their scoring touch back.
“That’ll be a key for tomorrow is getting our feet going and getting them going early and we need it from all four lines,” Peters said.
Meanwhile, the Canadiens will be looking to bounce back after suffering a disappointing 6-2 road loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.
“Right now, we’re not playing our best hockey and we’re very loose in a lot of areas, so we’ve got to tighten things up a little bit,” said Montreal coach Claude Julien. “One of the other things is our puck management just hasn’t been that good. Our puck management has been real poor and because of that, even at times, decision making hasn’t been the best and we’re getting exposed right now because of two of those major situations.”
Following a dismal outing against the Oilers, center Jonathan Drouin said that he and his fellow forwards have to do a better job of getting back to help out in the neutral and defensive zones when they face the Flames.
“I think if our forwards come back a little quicker — more on top of guys — they’ll have less room to skate in the neutral zone and attack our Ds with full speed,” he said.