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Dynamic defence duo

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames
CALGARY, AB -- Since returning from the Olympic break, the Calgary Flames have seen Cory Sarich and Mark Giordano develop into their most consistent, reliable defensive pairing.

The tandum is combined +26 in 15 games and have seven points between them in that span.

"It's worked out pretty well," chuckled Sarich. "It's been good for both of us."

Giordano shrugs off the accolades, saying statistics are secondary to playing a complete game both individually and as a team.

"Plus/minus is sometimes an overrated stat and sometimes you go out there and get a few lucky breaks but it's better to be on that side than the other side."

Sarich believes that the two have gelled well because of their contrasting styles of play.

"Maybe two different guys out there on the ice ... maybe that's some reason for meshing together," he said. "He's offensive up the ice and then myself, the opposite of that. I'm comfortable with him. He does a great job of talking out there on the ice. I try to do the same. We have good communication off the ice too, in the dressing room and on the bench. Maybe that has something to do with it."

Giordano added that the duo isn't out there trying to make highlight reel plays - they keep it as simple as possible and it has paid off.

"I think when we play together we try to use each other as much as possible but at the same time, we have to keep it simple. The few games that we haven't played well here, it's been because we're trying too much. We've got to realize that's our game and just keep it simple."

While Giordano has been solid all season, Sarich's play has improved greatly since the Olympic break. Prior to the time off, lingering injuries had kept his game at a level that he wasn't quite comfortable with.

Head coach Brent Sutter cited his time off as the reason for his rapid progress on the ice.

"I think with Cory, it's a situation where he played catch-up all year, up till the Olympic break. He was behind because he had been hurt a lot earlier in the year and he fell behind. He missed a good portion of end of training camp and the start of the regular season.

"I don't care who you are - it takes time to catch up and even more-so in Cory's situation, the type of player he is. I think the break allowed him to come back on the same footing as everyone else. I think since the break, he's played some pretty good hockey for us."

During his time off, Sarich made sure that he was able to mix the proper amount of rest time with workout time and it has enabled him to come back and play his best hockey down the stretch drive.

"I feel good," he smiled. "It gave a chance for a few nagging injuries to go away. My foot that was bugging me all year is back where it needs to be and I had a hand that was bugging me going into the break.

"The last Olympic break four years ago it was complete opposite when I came back. I don't think I prepared myself quite right through it and this year I just made sure I took advantage of my time off. It's nice to come back and be playing some good hockey."
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