The Calgary Flames play against Edmonton, Colorado and Washington next week. Here are five players to keep an eye on heading into week four of the NHL schedule.
Rene Bourque – A head injury has Rene Bourque listed day-to-day but should be back in time for week four. Last season Bourque dominated the Oilers scoring six goals and six assists in six games including two game winning goals. One goal and just seven shots in three games this season is not good enough. Bourque also scored five goals and seven points against the Avalanche last season so week four should be a great week for Bourque to get on track. After scoring 27 goals and recording 215 shots last season Bourque needs to elevate his game if the Flames are going to do anything this year.
Jay Bouwmeester – Can we finally admit that Jay Bouwmeester will never be an elite offensive defenseman? Yes he may skate like Bobby Orr but he sure doesn’t have the same offensive flare as Bobby Orr. Bouwmeester is a proven slow starter as he has never scored more than six points in the month of October and has zero through five games this season. Bouwmeester scored more points against the Oilers last season than against any other NHL team but this is a totally different Oilers team. The question is when will Jay-Bo finally score his first point of the season?
Jarome Iginla – Jarome Iginla is an ultimate leader and power forward who can score a timely goal or drop the gloves to spark his team. Iginla has seven career Gordie Howe Hat Tricks (goal, assist and fight in one game) but have we seen the best that Iginla has to offer? At the age of 33 is he on the downside of his career? Iginla has seen a drop in goals, points, powerplay points and shots in each of the last two seasons. It might be time to consider trading Iginla to restock the farm system while he still holds value. Since 2000 Iginla has recorded at 23 goals and 57 points in 57 games against the Oilers so you know he gets pumped up for the ‘Battle of Alberta’.
Miikka Kiprusoff – Where has Miikka Kiprusoff’s game gone? Last season Kipper’s win totals dropped by 10 despite recording better goals against average (GAA) and save percentage (SV%). Kiprusoff allowed 46 fewer goals in yet the Flames struggled to find wins and missed the playoffs. Kiprusoff was perfect against the Oilers last season and finished with a very low 1.98 GAA and .933 SV% in five games. Once again this is a different Oilers team and in two starts this season Kiprusoff’s GAA is almost double at 3.51 GAA and SV% is below 0.900. The Flames scored 50 fewer goals last season and the off-season additions are not going to make up those extra 50 goals so Kiprusoff is going to have to steal a lot of games in order to make playoffs. On a side note the Washington Capitals have not beaten Kiprusoff since March 12, 2008.
Brendan Morrison – The lone bright spot so far this season has been the play of Brendan Morrison. Morrison has points in three of five games and has two multiple point games. Morrison looked great last Saturday against the Oilers playing with a lot of speed and created several scoring chances. Morrison won’t finish the season leading the Flames in scoring but will provide great secondary offense. Morrison will return to the 55-60 point mark this season and prove to be the best off-season acquisition by the Flames.