SUN Hockey Pool

Flames counting on carryover

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:05 AM ET

CALGARY - During the final 47 games of the 2010-11 NHL season, the Calgary Flames compiled a 27-11-9 record.

That pace would be worth 109 points over an 82-game campaign.

(Amazing to think that total would have been No. 2 in the NHL last season.)

It’s tough to believe the Flames will be in the Presidents’ Trophy hunt, but optimism abounds they can build on that strong stretch and be a playoff squad after missing the post-season each of the past two seasons.

“I’m excited every year. It’s a fun time of year and the possibilities are there at the start of the season,” captain Jarome Iginla said Thursday morning before hitting the links for the team’s annual charity golf tournament.

“I think we’re going to be a good team because we had a good second half. We had some changes in the summer, but we have a lot of the same guys back.

“I think there’s no reason we can’t continue building on what we did in the last half of the season.”

On the flipside of that strong second half is the fact Calgary had a disappointing record against playoff teams, winning just nine of 34 contests against the Western Conference’s elite eight.

However, the Flames did have minimal changes in the summer — the biggest departures are defenceman Robyn Regehr and centre Daymond Langkow, and Langkow played just four games after a remarkable comeback from a horrible neck injury.

“It is a big change,” Iginla insisted of Regehr’s departure via trade to the Buffalo Sabres for young blueliner Chris Butler.

“It will be different not to see him in the dressing room.

“It’s a big spot to fill with his minutes and leadership. I wish him the best in Buffalo, but I still believe we have a good defence. It was a strength of our team before and I think it can still be very strong.”

A positive Iginla is nothing new, however, such true optimism can’t hurt. Especially when you consider the captain had a strong final three-quarters of the season offensively, with 41 goals and 78 points over the final 67 outings.

“You try to carry it over and remember the different things I was doing and try to go from there,” he said of continuing that play.

“To say, ‘I have to,’ I try not to go into the season with that mindset and have that pressure, but the last half of the season, our whole team and individually, was more relaxed and confident and you want to carry that over.”

Whether Iginla — who needs 16 goals to reach 500 for his career — can continue that pace remains to be seen, but it helps to have his set-up man Alex Tanguay back in the fold.

Tanguay inked a five-year, US$17-million deal in the summer, and he also believes they’ll be able to build from the finish to last season.

“I think what we did after Christmas, we’re all excited that training camp is around the corner,” Tanguay said. “We’ve had a long summer to think about it and we’d certainly like to get back to where we were last year.

“We’re excited to get the season going and prove that what we did last year — not from October to January but from January to the end of the season — wasn’t a fluke.

“But we’ve been doing too much talking now,” Tanguay continued.

“It’s been a while since we were in the playoffs and we’re certainly looking to get back there. All the talk and the good things we’re saying now has to be shown on the ice.”


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