Guess we know how the Calgary Flames plan to play out the season – by trying to beat the daylights out of the opposition.
Taking a page from the playbook of the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks, the Flames have become one of the more aggressive teams in the NHL. Through games played March 24, the Flames ranked second in fighting majors with 67; one fewer than the league-leading Ducks. Vancouver was third with 63. Oh, and for the record, the Detroit Red Wings had the fewest fighting majors in the league, with 20.
If you have watched the Flames play the past few weeks, it is abundantly clear they are showing up expecting a physical game and are only too happy to oblige when the opposition shows up looking to ‘dance.’
And it has been a rather busy dance card of late.
Last Saturday, in a 5-4 win over Minnesota, Calgary’s Eric Godard fought Minny’s Derek Boogaard at 4:56 of the first period and then Jim Vandermeer tangoed with Chris Simon of the Wild 11 seconds later. Two nights earlier Vandermeer duked it out with Colorado’s Ian Laperriere nine seconds into the game, a 2-1 Calgary victory.
The game before that, it was defenceman Robyn Regehr fighting Columbus’s Jason Chimera. This one didn’t take place until 12:40 of the first period. And the game before that one, the Flames Eric Nystrom fought Chicago’s Adam Burish 3:10 into the opening frame.
And on and on and on it goes.
Nothing wrong with this strategy, as long as the Flames understand when the regular season ends, so does most of the fighting. Even the Ducks, last season, kept their gloves on for the most part as they marched to the Cup. Being overly aggressive in the spring is often the ticket to an early golf season, not a championship parade.
The column also appears in the Calgary Metro newspaper.
Mike Brophy, the co-author of the book Walking with Legends, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor on THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and his column, Double OT, appears Wednesday.
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