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Features

A burst of offense from the back end

The Flames are hoping to gain a lot of offense from their blueline

Thursday, 30.09.2010 / 4:16 AM / Features
By Torie Peterson  - CalgaryFlames.com (@toriepeterson)
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A burst of offense from the back end
The Flames look to boost their offence from the blueline
CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames offensive woes in the 2009-10 campaign stifled their playoff ambitions and have been greatly analyzed by media and fans alike since the end of the season.

Head coach Brent Sutter has spent the summer reviewing his team's play last season and believes he and the rest of the coaching staff have come up with a solution to increase goal production.

"I thought after the season was over last year, we needed to have more of an attack with our defense. Sitting down with the coaching staff and Darryl, we went through different things and we want to change our game here. We have to. The game has changed and we have to be prepared to change with it in doing certain things.

"We want to up the tempo in our game and be a better speed team, both offensively and defensively. To be able to do that, you need to have defense that are activated but also doing it with intelligence too."

While Sutter says his staff are pushing for more involvement from their defense, there has never been any limits as to how far his players could push offensively as long as they were very aware of the situation and risks involved.

"Maybe we're enforcing it more to make sure it is done," Sutter said. "We never put the brakes on these guys in the past. They had the green light to do it with intelligence."

If the first four games of the Flames preseason is any indication, this green light has been flashing a whole lot.

The defense have picked up 15  points through the first five pre-season games and have been noticable all over the ice.

In the Flames split series with Vancouver on Sept. 21, Staffan Kronwall came up with a goal and a helper in a 3-1 victory over the Canucks. In Calgary, Jay Bouwmeester and Robyn Regehr added three assists to the Flames 3-2 win.

On Saturday, it was the defense corps that led the charge in goal scoring thanks to the breakout performance of T.J. Brodie. The 20 year-old was outstanding in his first game in Calgary, notching two tallies thanks to his ability to jump high into the play.

"I was just able to get up there at the right time," he said of his ability to get in close to the net. "It worked out pretty well on both goals."

Brodie credited the coaching staff's willingness to put him out in key situations as the reason for his confidence to take calculated chances despite being a rookie.

"The first couple shifts, I was just feeling it out. Then I started getting a little bit better and better (as the shifts went on)."

While the coaching staff is aiming to have all of their defense more active offensively, one player has been singled out by fans for their lackluster production in the 2009-10 season: Bouwmeester.

The smooth skating blueliner was acquired from the Florida Panthers in the summer of 2009 to provide the Flames backend with a puck-moving, offensive blueliner. Unfortunately, his first season in Calgary did not go as planned.

In his six seasons with the Panthers, Bouwmeester put up 53 goals and 203 points. In his first season with the Flames, he mustered three tallies and 29 points. He's expected to have a bounce-back season in terms of point production and if his play in the pre-season is any indication, there's no reason he can't get back to averaging 40 points per year.
 
He was immediately placed in front of the goaltender during the power play, shielding the netminder's view with his 6'4 frame. He has also been far more willing to hop into rushes than he was last season, a sign of the mentality Sutter is preaching to his blueliners.

"With Bo, he's had those types of goals - he's had 15 goal seasons," Sutter stated. "Bo is very accustomed to that and that's why we got him in the situation right now, on the power play, where we do. He can think like a foward somewhat, being in that position."