Originally posted on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 12/15/11

On the strength of regular offensive production from their big guns, the Calgary Flames are starting to win games with more consistency in recent weeks. Though there’s a long way to go in the season, the team feels like they are headed in the right direction.

Just three weeks ago, the Flames were 8-12-1 in their first 21 games and seemed complacent with zero identity. Ever since then the team has worked their way back to .500 and has crept back into the playoff picture, thanks in large part to the top line featuring Jarome Iginla and Brendan Morrison.

“I believe we’re going in the right direction and that we’re on our way up,” said Iginla, who was one of many Flames players that got off to a slow start. “We’re playing a lot better and feeling better about our game. We’re finding our way.

“It’s something where, earlier in the season, you can’t really pinpoint (what was wrong). We were thinking too much and not using our instincts. We’ve been doing a lot more of that lately and making plays.”

After returning from injury, Morrison settled right in and tallied seven points in three games last week. In the same three games, Iginla had four goals and six points.

“You talk to any guy who is an offensive player,” Morrison explained, “once the puck goes in the net consistently for a couple games, it’s amazing how slow the game seems and how every time you have the puck you feel you have an opportunity to do something. When you’re not playing well and you get the puck, the game seems to be going a million miles an hour.”

When defenseman Mark Giordano sustained a serious leg injury in late November, the outlook dimmed for the Flames’ defense. However, veteran Jay Bouwmeester – oft-criticized for his lack of production and hefty salary – has stepped up on the back end, as his role and minutes have increased since Giordano went down.

“I don’t think he gets enough credit for being as good of a player as he is, or as smart of a player as he is,” Iginla said. “It’s not just all offense or all defense with him – he’s an all-around defenseman. He’s a hard guy to play against. With the amount of minutes he plays in his shutdown role, I don’t he gets enough credit for the shutdown side of it.”

Though the veterans facing the most pressure – Bouwmeester, Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff – have raised their game recently, that doesn’t change the fact that they will be in tough to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. With 11 of their next 13 games on the road (including this past Tuesday’s game in Nashville), we’ll certainly learn a lot more about this Flames club in the next month.

“There’s a lot of work left to be done,” Iginla said. “It’s a logjam in the conference and it will be like that until the end of the year, but we feel like we’re finding our way and going in the right direction.”

Photo credit: Getty Images
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