SUN Hockey Pool

Working around the clock

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

DETROIT -- You'd think skating a season-high 22-plus minutes, on top of a victory, would make Flames d-man Andrew Ference ecstatic.

Seeing as ice time is the biggest indicator of how a coach feels about your performance, chewing up those kind of minutes should be perceived as a big confidence boost.

Ference, after spending 22:48 on the Joe Louis Arena pond in last night's 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings, saw it as something of a negative, being an indictment of his fellow blueliners.

"I like it better when all six of us are rolling over consistently," he said. "A few games ago at home, we had a game where every single d-man was either 19, 20 or 21 (minutes) and that's perfect. When any one or two of us have to start going above that, it's all right for the time being but we won't be successful in the long run."

In the short time, though, it was the kind of performance coaches can rave about. Ference was even singled out for his strong game by GM/head coach Darryl Sutter.

On the other side of the coin, Roman Hamrlik's ice time was only 18:13, while Jordan Leopold's was 11:43. Both average more than 22 minutes per game.

On top of the ice time, Ference had three shots on goal, registered a plus-2 rating and even blocked three shots.

"Yeah, I felt them. I felt the one off my toe nail because it bent it back," he said. "(Mathieu) Schneider has a hard shot. That's PK -- part of the new NHL is having to front guys instead of cross-checking them. You have to step in front of the shots and not letting the puck get to the net so you don't have to worry about the guy planting himself there."

It was the kind of performance Ference needed. A few of the recent outings weren't up to his standard.

"You can have a bump in the road here or there but as long as you minimize the bumps and the length of them, you become more complete."


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