Brent Sutter’s “defence-first” philosophy turned many Flames Fan’s stomachs into knots as they watched their team defend numerous 1-0 leads only to see them disintegrate into 2-1 losses, in the final minutes of the game. Early in the season the Flames were scoring 4 or 5 goals per game, against staunch opponents like the Canucks, Blackhawks, Canadians and a couple of wins over the hapless Oilers. However, in those same games the Flames were giving up over 3.33 goals per game and that probably didn’t sit too well with coach Sutter. In the ensuing months the Flames tightened up their defensive game but their offensive game also suffered – leading to a dearth of ulcers among Flames fans during those 2-1 losses.
Then some missing pieces to the puzzle began falling into place, including a trade on the back-end in favor of some new forwards that could not only put the puck in the net themselves, but could play with Jerome Iginla while taking some of the heat off him in the process. The loss of Dion Phaneuf has gone virtually unnoticed at both ends of the rink where coach Sutter’s defensive game has been improved even further and Phaneuf’s offensive output has more than been replaced.
The Flames recent scoring surge (alright it’s only been 5 games) of 16 goals in 5 games must come as a relief to those who were getting ulcers in those earlier 1-0 games. Meanwhile, at the back-end, the Flames gave up only 1.4 goals per game in those four games, playing against some equally formidable opponents. It seems there’s a glimmer of hope that the 2009-2010 Flames are finally going to look as good on the ice as many thought they looked on paper.