SUN Hockey Pool

Flames flickering no more

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Calgary's days of tight-checking, low-scoring games are over.

Sound the alarms. Sing from the rooftops. Celebrate.

All those nights of watching a team gun for 1-0 and 2-1 wins will be replaced by scores of 6-4 and 5-3.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? Because it is.

However, there will be a shift with the Flames when the puck drops on the 2006-07 campaign.

Calgary GM/head coach Darryl Sutter has paved the way for it.

And mandated it.

Don't for a moment expect to see the Flames turn firewagon. It won't be night-after-night of run-and-gun, end-to-end action with the scoreboard lighting up like a pinball machine and "Yahoo" chanted endlessly by the crowd.

What you can expect is a bit more emphasis on offence from Sutter's crew.

The biggest step is the acquisition of Alex Tanguay, a young veteran who can provide those 35-45 goals from the left wing the Flames haven't had since Gary Roberts skated the Saddledome ice.

Finally, Calgary will have some top-flight left-side punch to prevent the opposition from only keying on Jarome Iginla. Maybe, if he plays between those two, Daymond Langkow can even become the 75-point player the Flaming C faithful expected of him upon arriving in the Stampede City.

Additional proof Sutter wants more offence came from his words earlier last week, when he said he expects players to rebound from sub-par years, singling out Matthew Lombardi and Marcus Nilson.

Sure, Sutter's point was his typical no-nonsense honesty but more can be read into it. Calgary's lack of production last season -- 28th in the league in goals -- wasn't simply a product of the system. He believes this team can be, should be, among the top half of the league, if not top-10, in offence.

He won't, for a second, excuse any forwards from their defensive responsibilities but Sutter will insist they play with more creativity in the attack zone and make the most of their scoring chances.

But there will also be a need to score more goals. More fans would prefer 4-3 wins than those 2-1 affairs, as long as they win.

The big changes brewing in the ultra-competitive Northwest Division forced the regular-season champion Flames to become more of an offensive force.

Minnesota did it by adding Pavol Demitra without losing a roster player and the Vancouver Canucks -- whose offence wasn't a problem -- shored up their game by acquiring goaltender Roberto Luongo with the added bonus of getting rid of Todd Bertuzzi and his onerous contract.

You know the Oilers will reload when they answer Chris Pronger's trade request.

Almost makes you look forward to the end of summer, doesn't it?


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