SUN Hockey Pool

Memory serves him well

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

SAN JOSE -- Brent Sutter knew what to expect from Daymond Langkow long before he started coaching him.

He went into the memory banks.

Way, way back.

The Flames head coach was still playing for Chicago when Langkow joined the league and saw the potential over Langkow's first couple of seasons.

"The consistency he brings. He learned the game at a young age and continued to grow with it. I saw him when he first came in the league, he was really good at the little things and such a solid two-way guy," said Sutter, who finished his last two pro seasons when Langkow started his career in Tampa Bay. "When you have players like that on your team, it's huge. You know they're responsible in what they do. That's what you're teaching everybody, but a guy like that, he knows it."

There are two trademarks of Langkow's game: Strong two-way play and consistency.

Incredible consistency.

Which is how the veteran centre pulled his game through a surprisingly pedestrian opening month, at least by his standards.

When November ended with the Flames riding high, much fuss was about Jarome Iginla's 20 points in 14 games and the great goaltending Miikka Kiprusoff provided.

Then there was Langkow, without fanfare, putting together a very strong series of games.

His stats for November added up to five goals, four assists and a plus-9 rating over 14 contests.

In October, Langkow collected three goals, four assists and a shocking minus-6. In fact, he was minus-9 through the first six games.

"It was getting to me," Langkow said of his opening month. "I thought I was playing pretty well, but I was on for a lot of goals against. I wasn't really picking up points, which is fine as long as we're winning, but it was a weird month."

Sutter, whose team returns to action tonight in San Jose against the Sharks, said he noticed Langkow's frustration, not with the points, but more being on the ice for goals against.

"He's such a caring guy and takes it to heart," Sutter said.

"It would affect his next game. It's because he felt bad. You knew he'd get back to it because the history with him has shown he might have a game or two where he isn't where he needs to be, but you know he'll get back to his game because he's smart and understands the game."

Part of Langkow putting his game back on track was Sutter behind the bench. Sutter's game was pretty similar: Consistent and detail-oriented.

"That's the way I expected myself to play every night, to be that type of player. That's what I was taught to be and grew up told to be like," Sutter said.

"If you really see the game, know the game, understand the game, you really appreciate what he brings to the game. It's a real, solid effort every night, and it doesn't matter who plays with him. He's the same every game."

You can bet your bottom dollar Langkow relishes a coach who appreciates his game.

"Oh, for sure," he said. "I'm playing in different situations this year. I'm killing penalties. I'd killed penalties my whole career up until two years prior to this, but I'm back doing that.

"He knows where guys fit in best, it seems."

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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