CALGARY, AB -- With all the excitement surrounding the kids on the blueline at Calgary Flames training camp, Dennis Wideman delivered a message.
The veterans aren't half-bad either.
Entering his second season with the Calgary Flames, Wideman put young rearguards in the classroom in the team's 5-3 win over the New York Islanders in split squad action at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday night, turning momentum with a big hit and then finding the back of the net twice.
And he's just starting to round into form.
"It's preseason," he said bluntly. "You're just trying to get back up to speed and back up to pace. A couple went in tonight. The first one was probably going wide if it didn't hit the guy's skate. Other than that, I think it felt well. I'm just trying to get the pace going and the time going. That's the main part."
Trailing early in the second period to a relatively anonymous Islanders squad, the 30-year-old defenceman launched the always plucky Cal Clutterbuck head over feet with a textbook hip check when trying to enter Calgary's zone.
"Love it," said associate coach Jacques Cloutier, who was working the bench while Bob Hartley was in Saskatchewan. "Clutterbuck, he's got one way to play. He plays hard and Dennis was ready for him."
Minutes later, Wideman -- who led the Flames in ice time to boot -- ripped a point shot past New York goalie Kevin Poulin, his first of back-to-back goals that put the home side up for good and gave Calgary rookies a glimpse of what it takes to have make a splash.
"He's a highly skilled guy," TJ Galaridi said. "For us to be successful this year he's going to have to play like that. I'm not saying he has to score two a game, I don't want to put that kind of pressure on him - but when he's working it back there, it's hard for goalies to save it."
A 164-goal season certainly is out of the question. A contribution at both end of the ice on a nightly basis isn't.
And that's what he's given Calgary in his preseason action.
"Dennis, in training camp, he's been great," Cloutier said. "Even in scrimmage he's played very good. He played extremely well in Edmonton last game and tonight on the power play he moved the puck well and he scored a couple of big goals. I think the 5-on-3 goal was a big shot.
"We need that from him."
Wideman's play won't just mean more wins for the Flames.
With more and more youth trickling onto the roster, it will give Calgary's kids something to look up to.
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