The Flames Update is a compilation of notes, quotes, anecdotes, audio and video that keeps you in touch with your team. It appears several times each week, usually on non-game days.
December 26, 2009
Time for some offence
The Calgary Flames, after a brief Christmas break, returned to work Saturday at the Pengrowth Saddledome. But before the first post-Christmas practice got underway, head coach Brent Sutter held a lengthy meeting with his players in front of the vistor net.
The 10-minute discussion did not feature any stick-slamming, no shouting and no visible finger pointing. But there was little doubt that Sutter had the players attention as you could have heard a pin drop in the 'Dome.
The talk was more positive than negative. Sutter pointed to the Flames being in the top six in defence in the National Hockey League and told his troops that being smarter with the puck in the offensive zone will lead to more goals being scored.
"I feel in the offensive zone we can become a little robotic," said Sutter following the practice. "We have a tendency to stand around and watch the puck. We work hard in the offensive zone but it's about being a more intelligent team (with the puck). We have to work without the puck for the guys with the puck and be ready to get the puck."
The Flames 89 goals against is fifth overall in the league and third in the Western Conference (prior to action on Saturday). When Sutter arrived at training camp he declared the team needed to improve defensively, cutting down on odd-man rushes and turnovers in the neutral zone. That has been achieved and the next step is to get the offence in sync. In a nutshell Sutter wants his players to be creative in the offensive zone -- just don't turn over the puck and give up an odd-man rush.
"There's no doubt we have not been scoring the way we would like to. But it is a hard thing to talk about. If you start to focus too much on offence you start to give up 40 or 45 shots a game. Our chances of winning those games aren't very good," said Sutter. "We'll score goals. We just have to work harder when we have the puck. We can't back off defensively though."
"I think we are working hard in the offensive zone but we are not creative enugh," said Iginla, who leads the Flames with 19 goals and 37 points. "It's getting to the right spots for the shots."
The Flames will play four games in five days with two back-to-back sessions to finish off 2009. Three of the four games are against Northwest Division rivals so this would be a good time to pick things up -- the Flames are 3-5-2 in their last 10.
"All of us in here believe we have a good team. We have had some great stretches this season. We've hit a rough patch. Every team goes through it at certain times of the year. It is how you respond to it," said Jarome Iginla. "This is a chance to move up in the standings and get feeling good about ourselves. We know it is going to be tough but we are looking forward to it."
The Calgary Flames will have a couple of new lines when the Vancouver Canucks come calling on Sunday night ( 6 p.m. Sportsnet West, The Fan 960). Craig Conroy, the elder statemen on the team, skated on the right wing on the Flames top line with Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginla, who moved to his off-wing.
"Connie has played a little right wing," said Sutter. "He has had some success with Jarome in the past. I don't want to take Iggy and Olli away from each other because they are feeling their way."
Conroy, who has yet to find the back of the net this season, is excited about the move to the top line.
"It's an opportunity," said Conroy who has seven helpers this season, "For a passer it is great. There are two shooters out there with you."
The move is seen as another way to try and spark some offence back into the Flames game.
"We want to create and make things happen and get shots from teh box around the net," said Conroy.
The move means the end of the experiment with Dustin Boyd on the top ine. He was moved back to the fourth line and was centering Freddie Sjostrom and Brandon Prust (who was subbing in and out of the line rushes with Brian McGrattan).
Remaining together are Eric Nystrom, Curtis Glencross and David Moss on the third line and Daymond Langkow, Nigel Dawes and Rene Bourque on the second line.
"The line changes happen when you are not producing as a whole," said captain Jarome Iginla.
Defenceman Aaron Johnson did not sakte on Saturday and stayed away from the rink because of the flu.
Adam Pardy, who has been in and out of the line-up with an injury, did skate with the team on Saturday while veteran defenceman Cory Sarich is still out with a lower body injury.
Bourque teams up with Goodfish Lake
Flames forward Rene Bourque is supporting efforts to raise money for the new arena and community centre in Whitefish Lake First Nation Number 128 by becoming the Honourary Chair of the Goodfish Lake Recreational Capital Campaign.
“My roots are in the Goodfish Lake Region. I know how important it is to have first-rate recreation facilities when growing up and participating in recreational activities and I feel privileged to be the Honourary Chair of the campaign,” says Rene Bourque.
The reserve is located near Bourque’s home town of Lac La Biche, Alberta. Unfortunately the arena previously located near the town, which had served the community well for over 30 years, burned down in 2005.
The new Goodfish Lake Recreation Centre includes a facility for the trades’ courses for Portage College. The classrooms are replacements for the two-classroom facility that was also destroyed in the fire. The Whitefish Lake Reserve has a long-standing history of service to the oil patch through its successful entrepreneurial businesses such as their garment factory, dry cleaning plant and heavy machinery company. It also owns and operates a gas utility corporation.
“I hope that my support encourages others to get on board, and to become part of a project that will be truly transformational. I urge everyone to get involved and support the centre,” says Bourque.
The Centre will also house a community hall for cultural programs, a community kitchen and café for social events, a fitness centre with a walking track and a child-minding play room.
The new Goodfish Lake Recreation Centre aims to be a model for future facilities of its type in North America. The R-60 dome structure will use 50-75% less energy to heat and maintain constant ice and room temperatures. It will be made of concrete and anchored below the frost line. It is slated to begin construction in the spring of 2010. Did you know... Flames forward Jarome Iginla was chosen as one of the wingers on NHL.com's team of the decade, Joe Sakic, Alex Ovechkin, Iginla, Niklas Lidstrom and Scott Niedermayer were the skaters named to the top team. Martin Brodeur was named the goalie of the decade. "It's quite a compliment," said Iginla. "Time flies. Thankfully it has been a fun decade. It's a honour because there are so many good players."
Iginla joked that he would photocopy the selections for his kids to show them later.
"I will show it to them when they say 'Dad, look, the game has passed you by'," smiled Iginla. "I'll point out that Ovie was on the line and that he is still out there lighting it up."