Sutter loud, clear

Calgary Flames coaches Rob Cookson, left, Darryl Sutter and Rich Preston. (SUN/Darren Makowichuk)

Calgary Flames coaches Rob Cookson, left, Darryl Sutter and Rich Preston. (SUN/Darren Makowichuk)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:44 PM ET

The message about limiting penalties comes emphatically from Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter.

Steadily, too, notes forward Tony Amonte.

"Darryl keeps on bringing it to everybody's attention. He was keeping track of the penalties in the pre-season and it seemed we were getting a lot of them on the forecheck and the backcheck, as well," Amonte said.

"It was just cleaning that up. When you're forechecking, you can't get a stick on a guy, you have to get body position and it's the same thing on the backcheck, you can't be caught out of position and racing guys from behind. Darryl's made a point of it before every game."

Well, maybe the message has sunk in.

Through their two games, the Flames have been shorthanded only eight times. It's not perfect but certainly an improvement on the last few pre-season clashes.

"It's an adjustment but, for a skating team, it comes down to positioning, being in a right spot and getting it all in your head," Amonte said.

Of those penalties, three have been for hooking, while two others have been for holding. One has been interference.

That said, Amonte noted the referees haven't been as tight with the calls for obstruction and interference as they were in the exhibition schedule.

"I think they've loosened up a little. Look at the third period (Friday) night. (Shean) Donovan got pulled down on the boards when we had the forecheck going. It seemed like the last five minutes, it loosened up again," he said. "I think we all hope they stay consistent, and if they do, it'll be better for everybody."

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STICKING WITH WOOD: Unlike all his new teammates, defenceman Roman Hamrlik hasn't made the big switch.

Instead of using any of the many graphite sticks, Hamrlik continues to use a wooden model.

"When I was 18 years old, we didn't have those Synergys," said Hamrlik, 31, doing his best grandfather impersonation.

"I've tried every possible stick in the league but I still don't get the feel like I do with wood. With those sticks, the puck's always bouncing off it and there's not the same feeling."

He was reminded his already potent shot would be harder with a graphite stick.

"I've still got a hard shot. I've just got to hit the net," he said.

Speaking of sticks, rookie Dion Phaneuf switched his choice of weapon after the season opener.

Twice against Minnesota, Phaneuf had his stick break in half when he was attempting a one-timer.

No such problem in the second game against Columbus.


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