CALGARY - If their New Year’s resolution was to score more goals, they’re off to a late start.
The calendar officially flipped to February a couple of hours after Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at the Saddledome, and there’s little doubt the Calgary Flames’ offensive weapons are anxious to turn the page on the first month of 2012.
The snakebitten squad managed just 25 goals in a dozen January outings. What’s more troubling is that almost half of those markers were celebrated in a pair of dates — a 6-3 win over the New Jersey Devils and a 6-2 thumping of the Edmonton Oilers.
On the flip side, Tuesday’s setback against the Red Wings marked the seventh time in the month they’d managed only one goal or less.
Talk about a cold freeze.
“We’re more concerned about scoring one more goal than the opponent — however many that is,” said Flames winger Michael Cammalleri, the lone marksman against the Wings. “It’s not about us worrying about scoring goals. It’s just about beating the other team.”
The Flames skated through January with a 5-6-1 record, thanks in large part to the puck-stopping prowess of Miikka Kiprusoff.
Brent Sutter’s squad tallied just 2.08 goals per game during the month, well below their season average of 2.46 snipes per skate heading into the New Year.
In fact, only four teams — the Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets and Edmonton Oilers — had more trouble lighting the lamp in January.
The Flames had a lengthy meeting prior to Wednesday’s practice, finally hitting the ice almost a half-hour after the scheduled start time, but they insisted offence wasn’t the only topic of discussion during the behind-closed-doors session.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s about winning games at this time of the year. If we would’ve won (the Red Wings) game 2-1, even though we only scored two goals, we wouldn’t hear anything about it because we won the game,” said Flames winger Alex Tanguay.
“Right now, whether we win with five goals or we win with one goal, we’re all about getting points. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the main focus. I don’t think there’s problems with offence on this team. We have the guys who are capable of putting points on the board.
“But like I’ve said, we’re looking at winning games and if we have to do with a 1-0 win, we’ll do that.”
It might require more than one in Calgary’s next outing.
Their first matchup of February comes Friday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, the fourth-highest scoring club in the NHL so far this season.
It’s a new month, and the Flames will be shooting to make their recent offensive struggles a thing of the past.
“Usually, you see these things build with momentum and that’s normally how scoring goes. Offence is a little different that way,” Cammalleri said. “Defence is something you can commit to, it’s hard work and you do it. Offence is more reactive, more liberating, more free-flowing. That’s why you see confidence build and momentum build and pucks start kind of following people into the net.
“But at the same time, you can’t just turn it on or off like a faucet. You have to keep doing things right and keep playing the game right, and then they go in.”
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