Young guns able to go for it
STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
|T.J. Brodie had a great game vs. the Lightning Saturday. Doesn't mean he's ready to play full-time in the NHL. MIKE DREW/Calgary Sun
CALGARY - The bad news was it took three stitches to sew up a gash near T.J. Brodie’s right eye after he took a high stick in the late stages of Tuesday night’s game.
The good news is he was on the ice for the Calgary Flames in the late stages of the contest against the Ottawa Senators.
The youth movement is on in Calgary, with Brodie and fellow call-up Paul Byron each playing three games so far, earning more and more trust from Flames head coach Brent Sutter and his staff.
“Yeah. I think every game I’m getting passed different situations that I wasn’t in the game before,” Brodie said Wednesday after practice. “It’s nice to feel they have confidence in me, that they think I can play in those situations.
“Every game, I feel like I’ve gotten a little bit more comfortable out there.”
Byron says the fact they’re involved says a lot about the opportunity that lies ahead for the kids still back on the farm in Abbotsford with the AHL’s Heat.
“It gives us a lot of optimism that your hard work down in Abbotsford pays off — guys can come up here and fill roles,” Byron said. “With an older, veteran group, sometimes you need the jump the younger guys have.
“I think that’s why they brought us in.”
Sutter agrees with that assessment.
“We needed to change something up. We needed to throw some youth in there and get some energy and some life in some of our guys — change the emotional level of how we want to play,” Sutter said. “They gave us some good minutes, they had puck-possession in the offensive zone, they never hurt us at all in our zone … They’re smart players. I understand they’re inexperienced, but there’s nothing wrong with that as long as they do it the right way. And the one thing they do bring is that energy and passion you want to see.”
It’s a sign of the times in Calgary.
The Flames are rebuilding in their own little ways.
It’s definitely not the locked-down roster we’ve seen in recent years.
“Talking to guys that were here before, it was definitely tough,” Brodie said. “It’s good for the guys down there. It’s always nice to know they have an opportunity to get called up. It makes you work that much harder. You don’t want to be in a slump when someone does need to get called up.”
Rene Bourque and Miikka Kiprusoff both took the day off, along with injured players David Moss (foot) and Anton Babchuk (hand).
But Sutter said it was nothing to worry about with the winger and netminder.
“Just maintenance,” Sutter said when asked about Bourque’s absence. “Same with Kipper — I just felt I wanted Kipper to have the day off since we have two days between games.
“Bourque was just a maintenance thing. I wanted him to have the day.”
On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane