SUN Hockey Pool

Minutes make up for points

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

The numbers game tells two tales for Jordan Leopold.

On one hand, there are the offensive stats: No points for the Flames defenceman in the first 14 games including last night's 3-0 win over the Minnesota Wild.

But then there's a stat GM/head coach Darryl Sutter says is the most important when judging how he feels about one of his charge's performances: Ice time.

In that regard, Leopold's 24-plus minutes per outing is tops on the club.

Which explains why Sutter said Leopold's play was OK and wasn't too alarmed about the lack of offensive production.

"I'm not concerned about that," Sutter said after yesterday's morning skate. "What I'm concerned about with Jordan is his improvement. He's played all right but a 20-year-old defenceman (Dion Phaneuf) has been our best player.

"You expect more out of some of your returning players."

One good sign for Leopold, who led all the team's rearguards with 33 points in 2003-04, is his plus-one rating.

Still, the doughnuts by his name on the offensive side of the ledger is an issue for the blueliner.

"Normally you get at least one lucky bounce here or there to get a point but I haven't found it," he said.

"I need to stick my nose in there and work a little bit harder. It'll happen. It's not a question of if it will or won't. It's just a question of when.

"It is frustrating because it's supposed to be my area of the game but you've got to take care of your own end first.

"Still, you need to be accountable and look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'I need to do a little bit more out there' and I accept that."

It wouldn't hurt Leopold to begin or join in more offensive rushes. He could shoot the puck more often.

That said, it's hardly been an easy start for him for a couple of reasons.

For starters, he's been without his normal defence partner from Day 1 due to Robyn Regehr's knee injury.

In turn, that's meant playing with Rhett Warrener.

On the surface, that may not seem much difference seeing as both partners are known for their stay-at-home abilities but there is something to be said about having so much familiarity.

"Is that a factor? I guess we'll see when he gets back," said Leopold, who'll be reunited with Regehr as early as tomorrow's clash with the Columbus Blue Jackets. "I am playing left side with Rhett whereas pretty much my whole career I've played with Reg so it is a little bit different."

Sutter said the switch may have some bearing on his point total.

"He's played almost five years on the right side. It's like playing short stop and second base, if you've done that. It's a different look and changes how you cover," Sutter said.


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