SUN Hockey Pool

Scoring case in point for Flames

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:33 PM ET

CALGARY - The words from the Western Conference player sure give pause for thought.

While shooting the breeze amidst his team’s playoff series this spring, the player wanted to talk about the Calgary Flames.

“Does anybody there think they’re just not good enough?” he said of the Flames. “The last few years, people keep saying they’re going to contend for the Stanley Cup or they’re going to win the division, but they haven’t. People want to say they’ve under-achieved or been unlucky.

“Don’t people think they’re not talented enough?”

Think. Realize. Know.

Until the second half of the ill-fated 2009-10 season, it was easy for people — fans and followers — to have some faith in the Flames. It wasn’t hard to believe they could finish with home-ice advantage to start the playoffs and go on something of a run.

Even when the Flames were bouncing between eighth and ninth spot, but making a push after the Olympic break — they won four straight and six of eight — it wasn’t hard to imagine them sneaking into the playoffs and beating the San Jose Sharks.

But when the Stanley Cup playoffs began and the Flames weren’t part of it, though, most have come around to thinking the shortage of talent on this team had become too great.

(Somehow, GM Darryl Sutter said with a straight face he believes basically the same team will be back in next year’s playoff chase because players are due to have bounce-back seasons.)

After witnessing the first game of the Stanley Cup final, it not only makes it difficult to believe the Flames have the talent to compete for a NHL crown in the coming season, but also wonder how long it will be before they do.

As much as the story of the Stanley Cup final opener was porous goaltending, you don’t score like that without talent — especially scoring depth.

Picture it this way: The Blackhawks won a 6-5 game on a night Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien all were held without a point and each was minus-3.

Can anyone who followed the Flames imagine them winning a game in the Stanley Cup final in which Jarome Iginla, Rene Bourque and Matt Stajan have those exact numbers?

The Flames don’t have the depth to win with a line akin to Troy Brouwer, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa, which the Blackhawks used Saturday night.

Certainly, the Flames don’t boast a third line with the speed and skill Chicago has with Tomas Kopecky, Dave Bolland and Kris Versteeg.

OK, Chicago is the best team in the league and now ready to march to the Stanley Cup, so it may be unfair to just look at the Blackhawks.

But consider the forward talent on Philadelphia.

Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne make up the top line. Scott Hartnell, Danny Briere and Ville Leino the second unit.

The third line consists of a pair of first-round draft choices in Claude Giroux and James Van Riemsdyk along with Arron Asham.

Of those nine forwards, seven are first-round draft choices.

All that reiterates the need to build through the draft and fill out a team with talent and winners.

Last off-season, the Blackhawks grabbed players such as John Madden and Tomas Kopecky on the free-agent market, guys who have won championships.

The Flyers nabbed Chris Pronger through a trade.

It goes to show the job ahead for the Flames is arduous.

They need to build through the draft.

They need to add players with actual scoring talent.

And they need to add winners.

Otherwise, they’ll continue to be a team which thinks it has a chance but those around the league know doesn’t have the guns.


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