MacK­in­non presents tough test for Cal­gary backup

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - WES GIL­BERT­SON wgilbert­[email protected]­

Cal­gary goal­tender David Rit­tich is fac­ing an Ever­est-sized chal­lenge when the Flames try to chill Avalanche sniper Nathan MacK­in­non in Den­ver on Satur­day night.

There’s no doubt MacK­in­non is Colorado’s top threat. A Hart Tro­phy nom­i­nee last sea­son, the speedy star from Sid­ney Crosby’s home­town of Cole Har­bour, N.S., tal­lied twice in Thurs­day ’s 6-1 thump­ing of the Buf­falo Sabres and has five goals in four out­ings this fall.

Rit­tich, usu­ally the backup to Mike Smith, stopped all eight at­tempts in 20 min­utes of mop-up work in a 5-3 loss to the Blues in St. Louis on Thurs­day. Here are five things to watch for when Colorado (3-1-0) hosts Cal­gary (2-2-0):


Match­ing Mats? MacK­in­non is rid­ing a four-game goal-scor­ing streak and can log his name in the club his­tory books with a snipe against the Flames. The fran­chise record for the long­est lamp­light­ing streak to start a new sea­son is five, set by Hockey Hall of Famer Mats Sundin back in the Que­bec Nordiques era.


Back­lund banged up? Flames cen­tre Mikael Back­lund was M.I.A. for Fri­day ’s prac­tice in the Mile High City, with bench boss Bill Peters char­ac­ter­iz­ing it as a “main­te­nance day ” and telling re­porters he is op­ti­mistic No. 11 will be ready to roll against the Avalanche. It’s not a sure thing, though. If Back­lund is out, Mark Jankowski would re­turn to the lineup.


Home on a high note? The flight home al­ways seems a lit­tle smoother af­ter a vic­tory. The Flames ac­com­plished a whole lot of good in Tues­day’s 3-0 shutout of the Nashville Preda­tors, then stunk for the first half-hour of ac­tion in St. Louis. If they can claim points in Colorado, con­sider this road trip a suc­cess.


First of many? Free-agent sign­ings James Neal and Derek Ryan both tick­led twine against the Blues, each scor­ing their first in the Flam­ing C. The crew from Cal­gary needs more of that, es­pe­cially from the 31-year-old Neal. Thurs­day was also a mem­o­rable night for rookie Dil­lon Dube, who earned his first NHL point with an as­sist on Neal’s notch.


Go­ing streak­ing MacK­in­non isn’t the only guy on an of­fen­sive tear for the Avalanche. His left­winger, Mikko Ran­ta­nen, has hit the score­sheet in ev­ery con­test and tops the team with seven points. Alexan­der Ker­foot and Carl Soder­berg are also en­joy­ing four-game heaters.

David Rit­tich

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.