When you go through a slump and nothing seems to work for you, then things seem really tough. The puck seems heavy. It's tough to find your plays. - Sven Baertschi
CALGARY, AB -- In terms of National Hockey League games played, a four-game pointless drought may seem slightly insignificant. For Calgary Flames forward Sven Baertschi, it was anything but.
Since being summoned from the Adirondack Flames of the American Hockey League, the 22-year-old Baertschi went four straight without a sniff of an NHL scoresheet before busting out with a pair of assists in Thursday’s 5-3 win against the Arizona Coyotes.
“When you go through a slump and nothing seems to work for you, then things seem really tough,” Baertschi said. “The puck seems heavy. It's tough to find your plays. If you're an offensive player, you need those things to happen for you. Now, I'm just trying to build on it.”
Weighing heavily was likely the fact that Baertschi’s last NHL point before a pair of helpers on a pair of Paul Byron goals came on Dec. 10, 2013 -- just 25 days shy of a full calendar year. It came on a second period marker from Jiri Hudler against the Boston Bruins, the return of Jarome Iginla to Calgary.
Two days later and following the dismissal of general manager Jay Feaster and his assistant, John Weisbrod, Baertschi was optioned to the Abbotsford Heat, then Calgary’s top minor league affiliate.
He’s remained in the AHL until being recalled nearly two weeks ago.
“It’s not easy going back and forth, AHL-NHL,” Baertschi said. “It’s a totally different game. You try to jump right back into it as quick as possible. It’s not easy. It’s not easy to do. When you find it, everything seems much easier out there.”
He found it.
After scooping up the puck in the corner, Baertschi fed a backhand into the slot that pinballed off a couple of skates and the stick of Tobias Rieder before finding Byron in the slot, who beat Arizona goalie Mike Smith from the slot to put Calgary up 1-0 at 11:06 of the first period.
The swagger, as Baertschi called it, immediately came back. He connected with Byron for the second time in the game on a 3-on-2 to put the Flames up 2-1 at 2:03 of the second.
“If you make a pass and it's a goal, you get a certain swagger to your game,” Baertschi said. “And that's what I need, I think. Paulie did a great job with the first one — he really stayed with the puck and put it in the net — and that gave me some confidence to make plays out there. And the second one, same thing ... I just game him the puck and he did the rest.”
Byron noticed an immediate change in his linemate.
“I thought he had a great game,” said Byron, who snapped a personal 16-game goal drought with his first of the night. “He brought a great compete level ... This game is a lot different when you're playing with confidence and for him, I think that's something he has to keep playing with and keep creating out there.
“It was definitely a good step forward for him.”