SUN Hockey Pool

Tough to figure out drought

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

It seems appropriate Todd Bertuzzi has the longest active point-scoring streak on the Calgary Flames while suffering through a goal-scoring drought and holding an eye-popping minus-14 rating.

Bertuzzi will always be viewed in two lights, seen in a good way by some, yet others at the same time will see bad.

Numbers never tell the full story of a hockey player, but there are interesting statistics surrounding Bertuzzi these days.

Heading into tonight's clash with the Florida Panthers, he's enjoying a four-game point streak, netting an assist in each of those contests.

However, he's also gone through 17 games without a goal -- after scoring seven in the first dozen games.

He's also boasting a minus-14 rating, which is tied for third worst in the NHL heading into last night's action.

Only Rangers defenceman Dmitri Kalinin (minus-17) and Carolina's Rod Brind'Amour (minus-20) are lower.

Bertuzzi has never been a top plus-minus player. Curiously, in his best NHL season -- the 97-point campaign of 2002-03 -- he was just a plus-2. (Odd fact is he was plus-21 in both the seasons before and after.)

Still, with only 29 games in the books, a minus-14 mark on a club that appears to be playoff calibre and in the hunt for a division title is hard to ignore.

Bertuzzi is trying to take the statistic for what it's worth.

"It's just a factor of where our game's at," he said yesterday. "Powerplays are such an important part in the games nowadays. If you go a stretch without scoring five-on-five and get scored on, it's a minus.

"Look at Rod Brind'Amour. He's a Selke winner and what's he at? There's obviously some situations I can control myself and there's a lot you can't."

Then again, it's not like Bertuzzi is alone on the wrong side of the ledger from the Flames roster. Dion Phaneuf is holding an un-Norris Trophy-like minus-7 spot, while Michael Cammalleri is six-below. Only three Flames players (Robyn Regehr, Curtis Glencross and Rene Bourque) have plus ratings.

Even though Bertuzzi's mark is far from the pack, head coach Mike Keenan isn't putting too much stock into it.

"Plus-minus, to me, represents team play," Keenan said.

"Whether it's Todd with a high negative number or anyone else on the team, it's a reflection of team play during five-on-five situations.

"He picked up two minuses (Wednesday) night and they had nothing to do whatsoever with Todd's play. He wasn't involved in the play. It wasn't his responsibility. He just happened to be getting the ice time when somebody on his team, his teammate, made an error and the puck went in the net.

"It's a fairly misleading statistic unless you take the sum total for the entire team."

As a team, the Flames are minus-12 -- which had them in the bottom quarter of the NHL.

Of course, a few more goals by Bertuzzi and the numbers wouldn't look so bad.

"It's not like I'm trying not to score," he said. "(Against Detroit), Iggy gave me a pass on the powerplay, the goalie wasn't even looking, I had it top shelf and it hits his shoulder. It's stuff like that.

"There's nothing I can do about it, just keep working on it, keep working in practice. Sooner or later, something will fall in.

"Everyone was complaining when I didn't get assists early and had seven goals. I had opportunities to get assists before and they didn't happen, and now I've had opportunities to score and they're not going in. You deal with it, try to work through it."

Can't argue his logic. Bertuzzi's assists have been a big factor in the scoring run by linemate David Moss, five tallies in six games.

Keenan was quick to point out Bertuzzi's effort in Detroit directly led to Daymond Langkow's goal that spotted the club a 2-0 lead.

"If he could do that once a game, Langkow and Moss, for fun, would have another half-dozen goals each. That's what we want him to do," Keenan said.

"He's a preoccupation for the opposition, which very few people write about. Any big man like that, that can skate as well as he can, that can accelerate as well as he can, that can control the puck and has soft hands, is a preoccupation. Just as (Tomas) Holm- strom is a preoccupation."

No matter what he does, though, Bertuzzi will be heavily scrutinized, especially when he's not scoring goals.

"What am I going to do? I'm not going to hang myself over it," he said.

"It'd be one thing if we haven't gotten wins in the past little while or not doing well, whatever it is, we're 16-11-2 and I don't think there's much complaining."

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