Five games into the season there is still talk about the Flames defence. But another name, Adam Pardy, is being thrown into the mix.
Pardy, a sixth round draft pick in 2004, had a goal and two assists through seven games, much of that time spent with Staffan Kronwall, a free agent signing in the off-season, who also had a goal and two assists. The pair were a combined plus eight after five games, a sign that they were looking after both ends of the ice. So what gives?
"We're making simple plays," said Pardy. "We are making it easy on ourselves by communicating. It's being in position and getting back to pucks quickly and making sure we are not spending too much time on our defensive zone. When you are playing in the offensive zone, it makes it a lot easier, that's for sure."
That Pardy and Kronwall, who scored his first goal in a 4-3 win over Montreal last week, are adding offence is a bonus.
"We are getting goals from what you would call unlikely goal scorers and that is good for our team. It takes the pressure of Olli (Jokinen) and Jarome (Iginla)," said Pardy. "We are going to work as a team. We are going to win as a team and we are going to lose as a team. The last few games I have had some opportunities. The lanes open up. There have been great screens in front. If the goalie can't see the puck, a lot of times it is going to find the back of the net."
"Really you are just trying to look after the defensive zone. That is my main priority. I am not going to have the flash and dash."
Pardy has, so far, kept up that end of the bargain and remains a plus three, second on the team.
'When you are in good position it allows you to make plays. It is a matter of not being too high risk. You want to be sure of the plays you are making, not throwing it in the middle. Seeing the pass before you make it and not throwing blind pucks. If you don't have a play, you eat it and wait for support."
Pardy played in 60 games last season, recording 10 points, including one goal and nine assists.
An admitted late bloomer he played for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, tallying 16 goals, 40 assists and 302 penalty minutes in 144 games.
He stuck in Calgary at the start of last season and was considered by many to be the team's seventh defenceman. But a long term injury to veteran Rhett Warrener and various injuries to other defenceman pressed him into plenty of action, And the more he played, the better he played. He delivered some impressive, Robyn regehr-like hits and gained confidence handling the puck. That has paid off in his development this season. He has been nothing short of steady, had some fights and shown he will take on some big characters in front of the net -- he tangled with Montreal's Georges Laraque in a recent win over Montreal several times and certainly held his own.
It's all part of the maturation process for Pardy.
"It comes with growing as a player," said Pardy, now 25 years old. "Learning the system. Learning the players that you are playing against. Being confident with the guys and knowing that if you make a mistake they guys will be there to back you up,"
Brent Sutter's system appears to fit Pardy's style, too.
"The main thing is to protect the house first and move out from there," said Pardy. "Move the puck to the outside and keep shots to the outside. You do that and it will be tough on the other team."
Pardy has set some personal goals, too.
"I've got to be solid. Not get scored on. Mistakes are going to happen but you have to recover and rebound and learn from situations like that."
So far, so good. Pardy's progression seems right on target.
NOTEWORTHY: The Flames returned from their two-game road trip Tuesday evening and held off-ice sessions at the 'Dome on Wednesday. After a workout and video, the players said the team is lloking to be better on the forecheck and better in the neutral zone during an upcoming five-game homestand. "We want to get our game in order as quickly as possible<' said head coach Brent Sutter, disappointed that the Flames saw leads in both road games evaorate and eventually turn into losses.