Flames seventh in scoring

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:03 PM ET

David Moss pondered his answer when asked where the Calgary Flames stood in goal scoring on a per-game basis prior to the Thursday’s action.

His reply: 15th.

The answer: seventh.

“That’s not bad,” he stated. “Any time you’re in the top 10 in that category, that’s pretty solid.”

Aren’t the Flames supposed to be the low-scoring, offensively challenged squad? Not any more.

The Flames were 29th last season with a 2.45 goals-per-game average.

Heading into Friday’s clash with the San Jose Sharks, they’re scoring at a 2.89 clip.

Shootout goals don’t count in the equation.

Even better is the job they’ve done during their 17-5-5 run.

In those clashes, the Flames have 90 goals, a 3.33 average, compared to 72 goals against.

It shouldn’t be a suprise.

The same thing happened when Brent Sutter was head coach of the New Jersey Devils.

In his first season behind the Devils bench, Sutter’s team was 27th with a 2.42 goal average. In year two, that rose to 2.90, good enough to be tied for 14th.

The system hasn’t changed for the Flames. The execution has.

“When you’re a human being and formed habits that have been in place and have to change those habits, it takes time. When there’s acceptance, that’s when you start taking the strides,” Sutter said of the process. “You can’t just say, ‘We’ll be better today’ and then be better. It doesn’t work that way.”

Captain Jarome Iginla, who not only knew the Flames were seventh in the league but fourth in the Western Conference, said the players have done a better job of playing the “smart hockey” Sutter expects and benefited from it.

“With another year, he knows us all and how to push us as a team and individually and we know him better. We know if we are better defensively, we’ll have more freedom to be creative,” Iginla said. “It’s been encouraged. Every line thinks if they work hard, they can contribute offensively, too.”

A contributing factor is the club’s special teams. Calgary’s powerplay has climbed to 15th in the league with a 17.6% success rate. At home, the mark is fourth best at 24.6%

In the last 27 games, they’ve scored at a 20.2% rate.

While the penalty kill has been strong, too, the Flames take great pride in being in the top three for powerplay opportunities and in the middle of the pack for times shorthanded.

From it all, they’re playing with a belief they can score. It may not be run-and-gun, but they can find the net.

“For a while, if we were up one in the third period, we’d be hesitant, holding back and trying to be really, really good defensively,” Iginla said. “You know what, give credit to Brent to the coaching staff because they’re saying, ‘Let’s win the third period, too.’ It’s a positive, that mindset.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/RandySportak


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