Was that a smile from Darryl Sutter?
It might have been as his son, Brett Sutter, scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game to tie the Flames with the Ducks 14 seconds after the Quackers took their first lead. Sutter, after shockingly being called up from the minors just days before Christmas, made an impact that few thought possible as he was flying all night and on the ice for the first two Flames goals. This is nothing but a good sign for the Flames whose depth at the forward position continues to grow with every call from their Quad Cities affiliate. Warren Peters, Jamie Lundmark and now the 21 year old “Son of Sutter” have all made impacts in their own unique way. In the past versions of the Flames, depth at the forward position has not come close to that of the 08-09’ version of the Flaming C. Whether it has been better drafting under the Sutter regime, better FA pick-ups, or better scouting entirely, the Flames have managed to put together a good crop of talented minor leaguers who can make the jump to the NHL with relative ease.
Switching gears and moving to the Flames at the Christmas break, let us look at some high points and low points of the first 34 games.
Emergence of Secondary Scoring!
Jarome Iginla must simply be loving the fact that he is not the only guy scoring goals under the saddle this year. Cammalleri 12 goals, Bourque 11 goals, Moss 11 goals, Langkow 9 goals, and Bertuzzi with 8 goals. Finally we are seeing the 2nd and 3rd lines contribute on a nightly basis which is a must aspect on any team wanting to go deep into the playoffs.
Un-heralded Summer Acquisitions
Did anyone in Calgary know that we acquired anyone besides Todd “I carry a lot of Baggage” Bertuzzi over the summer off-season? Well, Calgarians now are well aware of Rene Bourque, Curtis Glencross and the welcoming back of Mark “I love Russian cooking” Giordano. Bourque and Glencross have added the speed to the front end of the Flames that we have needed for so many years, and not to mention the “Iggy-esque” shot that Bourque has been wielding the last couple of weeks. They have the ability to beat defenders wide and open up more space for the trailing forward coming in, giving the Flames more and more chances night in and night out. Mark Giordano or Leo’s long lost brother “Geo”, as I like to call him, has been getting his North American skating legs back slowly but surely and is turning into the puck moving defensemen the Flames have wanted ever since “Leo” was deported to the Mile High city three seasons ago. Last night Geo proved his worth by bagging 2 points and the number 1 star accolades. If only he could teach Aucoin to skate as well?
Dion’s Senior Year Slump
People talk about sophomore slumps for Rookies coming into their second year, but what about a young kid going into his 4th year as a pro and finally feeling some growing pains. With only 3 goals and a minus 11 rating through 34 games this year and on pace for a measly 7 tallies all year, people are wondering what is wrong with “Neon Dion”? He is not making the flashy hits that he once did, he is obviously not scoring the goals that he once did and now he has the chore of dealing with some off ice incidents that caused a stir up for more than a couple of weeks. Keenan, I have been told, has been trying to make him defensively sound, (i.e. the lack of flashy open ice hits) not an easy task for a kid who is used to rifling bullets top cheddar from the blue line all day and smashing forwards faces into the ice. He is not a defensive defenseman and he is going to take a long time to adjust to that kind of game. In saying that, is he better off doing his own thing and being more of a Sandis Ozolinsh (Offensive Specialist) rather than a Chris Pronger(all around force)? If that were the case, maybe the $6.5 million price tag is a bit much. My only hope is that he learns to hit the net more rather than ricocheting frozen rubber off the Husky logo 5 feet wide of the net.
Merry Christmas to one and all, I hope Santa brings you what you all what I crave so dearly...A Stanley Cup Banner for the Pengrowth Saddledome!
This has been another edition of
Newman on the Flames