Flames Continue Sutter Streak

Team Moves to Five Unbeaten Under New Coach 

January 7th, 2002
Rick Charlton

AP Photo

Celebrate!: Rob Niedermayer and Blake Sloan celebrate Niedermayer's first period goal.

He's been a Flame only five games but already Darryl Sutter is a trend setter.

The newly minted Flames coach, introduced with much fanfare only a week and a half ago, remained undefeated through his first five games, a feat accomplished by no other Calgary mentor, as he guided his new charges to a hard-fought 4-2 win last night over the Colorado Avalanche in front of the obligatory sellout of 18,007 in Denver.

While this one won't be regarded as a classic, the Avs holding the territorial advantage through the first forty minutes, the Flames took advantage of the opportunities presented to them and ran sure fire Hall of Famer Patrick Roy's all-time record against Calgary to 13-18-8.

The Flames hold a 2-1-1 advantage so far in the five game season series against the tough Avalanche.

Calgary might be nine points behind the pace of last year at the half way mark of the season, but lately have been going the opposite direction of that unfortunate outfit of 2001-02 which sank into the depths of despair after an early hot start.

Calgary is now 4-0-1 under Sutter and while this may look like the early hot and bothered period where every player is scrambling to impress their new bench boss, the Flames in fact also look to be coming together and playing to the level expected of them at the start of the year.

Flames Jekyl and Hyde offence, ranked ninth overall after beating New Jersey on Nov. 5 and 30th and dead last only two weeks ago while three times this year exceeding the team previous goal-less streak, has put up 16 goals in Sutter's first five games as coach.

The victory left the Flames at 14-18-6-3 on the year for 37 points, only one point in arrears of San Jose as Calgary attempts to leapfrog five teams to harness the eighth and final playoff spot in the NHL's Western Conference.

Edmonton currently occupies the last playoff spot but the deficit has finally be eased to single digits, Calgary still a seemingly impossible nine points behind their northern neighbours with half the schedule still to play.

Flames are also unbeaten in an improbable six games at the Pepsi Centre in Colorado.

Rob Niedermayer resembled, for one brief shining moment, the player everyone thought the Panthers were drafting back in 1993 when he blew between Skoula and former Flame Derek Morris, cutting in on Colorado starter Patrick Roy and scoring only 30 seconds into the first period.

Craig Conroy padded the Flames lead at 9:41, coming down the ice on a two on one with Martin Gelinas and electing to drill a slapper through Roy's legs.

Former Flame Dean McAmmond brought the Avalanche within one at 11:37, taking a brilliant Joe Sakic pass and putting it through the wickets of Flames starter Roman Turek.

But Jarome Iginla was able to extend Calgary's lead to two goals once again, backhanding a shorthanded rebound of a Craig Conroy shot past Roy after the two Flames had broken loose on a two on one at 6:16 of the second period.

Colorado scored what might have been a backbreaker with only 24 seconds remaining in the period, a terrific play between Sakic and Peter Forsberg finished off with a sensational wrist shot by sniper Milan Hedjuk over Turek's glove.

Martin Skoula coughed up the puck to Stephane Yelle, however, the latter racing down the ice on a three on one, wristing a shot just inside the post on Roy at 10:13 of the third period to put the game away.

Both teams were zero for five on the power play.

Colorado outshot the Flames 33-17.

Next up is the best team in the NHL, the bankrupt Ottawa Senators, on Thursday night at the Saddledome.



Calgary Flames 4
Penguins Colorado Avalanche 2

Saprykin Drury Clark
Gelinas Conroy Iginla
Niedermayer Yelle Sloan
Berube Nichol Wright
Lydman Regehr
Boughner Gauthier
Montador Buzek

1 Stephane Yelle - The Sutter formula is becoming clear. Grab the lead and turn it over to guys like Yelle in the third period. Scored for the second straight game, logged 20:38 in ice time and was a plus two on the night. 

2 Roman Turek - 31 saves and only eight goals allowed in the last five games. A key to the win. 

3 Joe Sakic - his usual buzzsaw, creative self.

Radim Vrbata burst in alone on Turek late in the second period, but the Flames netminder flashed his glove out for a stellar save to keep the Flames ahead 3-1.

Patrick Roy forgot about the puck to paste an unsuspecting Flames winger Rob Niedermayer into the boards halfway through the third period, raising a derisive cheer from the crowd while doing so.

Get Your Calgarypuck Gear!

Wendell Young, Flames goaltending coach, was unusually frank in telling the FAN960 intermission that Roman Turek is in a lot better shape than he was last year. Turek made his 21st consecutive start. . . . . . Young also appraised Flames uber-goaltending prospect Andrei Medvedev as a "victim of his society," not being pushed and getting away with talent alone. "He's a great talent and the only thing holding him back is his conditioning." Not exactly a bulletin but its clear the organization is anxious to get Medvedev to North America where he can be challenged to be better. . . . . . . My favourite Wendell Young memory had him playing for Pittsburgh at the Saddledome. Young comes out to handle a routine carom off the mid-boards inside the blueline and the puck takes a freak bounce, he dives and just misses the puck as it slides gracefully into the open net. Then again, that's probably not Young's favourite memory of Calgary . . . . . . The win moved the Flames into a tie in points with the $74 million New York Rangers. We'll never miss a chance to point that out. . . . . . Ken King is on FAN960's The Hockey Show with Mitch Peacock today at 5 p.m. Give him a call. . . . . . It keeps getting better and better for flat-nosed guys like Denis Gauthier and Bob Boughner under new mentor Sutter. Gauthier logged what must have been a season high 24:47 in ice time while Boughner had 23:36 in ice time. Both were routinely in the 16 minute mark under Greg Gilbert. . . . . . . Toni Lydman led the Flames yet again with 26:07 in ice time while ex-Flame Derek Morris played 30:37 for the Avs but was a minus two on the night. . . . . . While the Flames were 52% in the faceoff circle it was unusual to see two of their key men, Conroy and Yelle, both under the break even mark. Offset by the 100% numbers put up by Iginla, Chris Clark, Chris Drury, Jamie Wright and, gulp, Craig Berube. . . . . .Sakic was 60% for the Avs.


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