Baertschi finding his stride in rookie season
Flames young gun soaking in the experience as his NHL dream becomes a reality
Sure, Sven Baertschi played five NHL games last season as an emergency recall from the Portland Winterhawks. So sure, he at least had an idea of what to expect upon reporting to Flames training camp.
But this season has an entirely different feel for the 20-year-old.
“For me, last year was more a little like dessert,” said the 13th overall pick of Flames in 2011. “Just come in, check it out and see how it goes.
“But this year, I wanted to come in and make sure I got a spot here. I want to play at the highest level possible. So it’s just a different mindset.
“I’m a year older now. I belong here. I want to stay here.”
And while he feels like he belongs here, Baertschi knows his place in the pecking order.
“I’m the rookie, and that’s the way it is,” he said. “Whatever happened last year, that was last year.
“There’s good parts to being a rookie, especially with the team here. We’ve got a little older team. It’s obviously a lot of fun when you have experienced guys around you.”
He pointed over at the locker stall belonging to his neighbour, Jarome Iginla.
One night after playing against Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, Baertschi was positively pumped for the opportunity to line up against his countrymen, Luca Sbisa and Jonas Hiller.
“It’s kind of going to be a little Swiss battle here,” Baertschi said after the morning skate. “Luca Sbisa, he’s a defenceman. I saw him last night, and we already started trash talking and stuff.
“I’m definitely going to go out there and try to get under their skin a little. I know both of them. They’re great guys. For younger guys at home, young hockey players, there’s those two guys plus Mark Streit. Those are the guys you really look up to.
ANAHEIM NASTY DUCKS
The Anaheim defence looks a lot different this season thanks to the addition of Sheldon Souray and Bryan Allen as free agents.
Suddenly, the Ducks are a lot nastier a foe.
“It’s given us a little more confidence, that you’re not going to go to the front of the net and take liberties on our goalie,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “It makes us a tougher team to play against, I think.
“So if that’s the case, then it allows us to be a little more physical without taking penalties, then that’s great.”
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