SUN Hockey Pool

Scoring returns in Nik of time

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

Within a week before being traded to the Calgary Flames, Niklas Hagman finished a stretch in which he scored four goals in six games.

Back in November, he went on a four-game spree with six tallies.

When that run ended, Hagman had seven goals in six games.

Throw in a hat-trick against Anaheim in late October and a smattering of goals here and there, and it's how he was a 20-goal scorer before being traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs to Calgary in the Dion Phaneuf deal.

It's understandable Flames fans have been wondering how he hit the 20-goal standard, having watched him net just one goal in his first 17 games with the Flames.

Anyone who tuned into Hagman's performance in Tuesday night's 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks can see what the former Maple Leaf can do when he's got his mojo going.

Hagman scored the insurance goal, but his performance went beyond that.

Five shots on net. A couple of them blocked by Anaheim defenders. One which missed the net.

He was buzzing around the Ducks net all game, and becoming more and more confident after finally lighting the lamp for the first time in 13 games. He received a well-earned ovation for a shift in the final minutes and first-star honours.

"I felt pretty good lately, felt comfortable with the puck and trying to shoot it," said Hagman. "It's been a little frustrating it hasn't gone in, and hopefully now I can help the team more by scoring goals.

"I'm pretty happy."

When the Flames dealt away Phaneuf, the players who came west were expected to break out this way:

Matt Stajan would be a set-up centre, while Ian White would be the blueliner and Jamal Mayers the energy skater on the fourth line.

Hagman, the most accomplished of the former Maple Leafs with three-straight 20-goal seasons, was supposed to provide the much-needed secondary scoring.

Just as was the case with the deal that brought Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik from the New York Rangers a day later.

It hasn't happened for Hagman, but he believes the goal against Anaheim will open the floodgates.

"I've been starting to feel a little bit better lately and getting more chances. Right now, you've just got to battle and go to the net. Hopefully, you get some pucks in," he said. "My legs feel a lot better. My game is based on my legs. I try to skate, try to forecheck to create chances. I try to beat puck battles to the net.

"I didn't feel my legs were that good after the Olympics. Now, it's been feeling better. I would like to say back to normal for me.

"Hopefully, I can continue this the rest of the games."

The signs Hagman was about to contribute were there. He's strung together a few strong games.

"There's been nights where he might have been our best forward and wasn't rewarded on the stats, but he played extremely well," said head coach Brent Sutter.

"He's going to create opportunities because of his headiness, his skill level and his hands. He can create offence. From the blueline in, he made some good plays offensively."

For the Flames' sake, they can hope Hagman's goal is part of the recent trend of production from the newcomers.

Mayers has chipped in on offence, while Stajan had a three-game point streak snapped against the Ducks, but has provided close to expectations.

White finally scored his first goal as a Flame in Sunday's 4-3 loss to Minnesota.

Higgins was starting to find offensive form before being injured. Maybe this means Kotalik will regain some sort of scoring touch.

At least you can sense some confidence among the newcomers.

"I feel more comfortable with the puck. It seems there's more time to take a look at what you're trying to do. Hopefully, I can keep that up," Hagman said.


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