SUN Hockey Pool

Leo laments ice-cold stick

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:21 AM ET

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The last goal?

You betcha, Jordan Leopold can remember it.

"Colorado," recalled the Calgary Flames defenceman. "I think it was a pass from Reino in the corner.

"Yeah, I remember."

It has been a while since Leopold banged home that Steve Reinprecht pass, making the recollection a mean feat.

The goal, against Philippe Sauve, who has since become Leopold's teammate, was March 7, 2004.

Since then, Leopold has skated in 84 NHL clashes -- counting the playoff run -- without lighting the lamp. It's the kind of slump that leaves NHL players frustrated and discouraged.

"I'm irritated," said Leopold, who has nine assists this season. "Of course you'd like to give more out there. You look at how the season has gone along, it hasn't been a strong offensive progression and (Thursday) night I gave a couple of pucks away. That's not the way I want to play.

"It's about bearing down, being assertive and being responsible for what you're doing."

He'll try to end that drought tonight when the Flames -- losers of three straight -- meet the Minnesota Wild. Because of the team's season-high losing skid, Leopold isn't the only Flame being introspective. However, he and Andrew Ference will hit the ice having faced the venom of GM/head coach Darryl Sutter.

After Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Islanders, Sutter voiced his displeasure with the defencemen in a manner usually reserved for only Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff.

Leopold was chided for his lack of offence, while Ference's defensive play was publicly called into question.

Yesterday, after practice, both defencemen spent extra time going over video with assistant coach Jim Playfair. Leopold said he knows what he must do.

"Being more aggressive, that's number one," he said. "There's been times I've found myself coasting or not skating in the right situations like I used to and I need to get that back.

"But it's not up to Darryl, it's not up to anybody else, it's up to the player inside, the heart and the emotion and everything that goes with it."

Despite his lack of offence, Leopold does lead the Flames with a plus-13 rating. At the other end of the tape is Ference, with a minus-8. He openly admitted his play has been inconsistent.

"On defence, those two or three mistakes are glaring. They cost you goals and that's what sticks out in a hockey game," he said. "It's not the positive stuff that sticks out because that's what is expected of you and what you're supposed to do. From Day 1, I've known the biggest thing I've had to work on with my game is consistency.

"You're not going to have a perfect game every game but you can't have those two or three mistakes in four or five games."

Sutter has a history of achieving instant dividends when calling out players, so that's one positive the duo can see.

Leopold has another.

He notched his first point of the season 19 games in against the Wild.

Now he's again facing his hometown team, in front of friends and family. Seems like the perfect place to end the drought

"It would be but you can't hope and wish. You have to go out there and make it happen," he said. "I dream of it in my sleep, dream of it in my pre-game naps, it just hasn't happened. If I pay attention to details, get myself into scoring positions and when I get the chance shoot the puck, it should happen."


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