The Flames’ defence never rests

 

 
 
 
 
Calgary Flames' Dennis Wideman past St. Louis Blues' Steve Ott during NHL game Thursday, April 2, 2015, in St. Louis. The Blues won 4-1.
 

Calgary Flames' Dennis Wideman past St. Louis Blues' Steve Ott during NHL game Thursday, April 2, 2015, in St. Louis. The Blues won 4-1.

Photograph by: Jeff Roberson, AP

More on This Story

 

VANCOUVER - They have a fast, aggressive defence that jumps up into the play and piles up points.

No, we’re not talking about the Vancouver Canucks of three or four seasons ago, but rather the 2014-15 Calgary Flames.

Even with key defenceman Mark Giordano sidelined by injury, the Flames lean heavily on their defence to generate offence.

Limiting that offensive contribution by Calgary’s back end figures to be key if the Canucks are going to win the best-of-seven series that starts Wednesday night at Rogers Arena.

“Their defence are real offensive, they jump into the attack,” Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins said after his team practised Tuesday at UBC. “I think we have to make sure we do a good job on our forecheck and we can’t lose our guys. When the puck changes sides we have to make sure we are high and we’re always watching them. . .it’s just awareness.”

The Flames scored 242 goals this season -- one more than the Canucks. Forty-eight of those goals and 195 points came from defencemen. The Canucks defence scored just 32 goals and contributed 135 points this season.

“Giordano is out and obviously that hurts them a little,” said Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa. “But (Kris) Russell and (Dennis) Wideman certainly like to get up in the rush. It seems like every team has one or two or three guys that like to do that. So those guys in particular, we’ll try to finish those guys on the forecheck to make sure they can’t get ahead of us.”

Calgary had four defencemen with more points than the team-best 31 recorded this season by Vancouver’s Alex Edler.

Wideman led Calgary defencemen with 15 goals and 56 points. Before he was hurt, Giordano had 11 goals and 48 points in 61 games. T.J. Brodie had 41 points and Russell added 30.

“I think overall it was kind of a low year point-wise for our defence,” said Bieksa, who had only four goals and 14 points in 60 games this season.

Fellow defenceman Dan Hamhuis (one goal, 23 points) also saw his offensive production plummet.

“We’re used to having some guys in the 30s and 40s, but our forwards generated a lot of offence early and in the mid part of the season on their own,” Bieksa said. “But towards the end when the games were more important and a little harder, I think that is when you start using your D a little bit more and you rely on them for that secondary offence and that is where we kind of pulled through.”

Bieksa is right. Vancouver’s defensive production did improve late in the season. Edler, for example, tallied 14 points in his last 14 games and Yannick Weber scored five goals in his last 10 games.

ICE CHIPS: Vancouver general manager Jim Benning will miss the team’s first four playoff games. Benning is heading to world under-18 championships in Switzerland. “I’ll watch all the games on the computer over there,” Benning told TSN 1040. “And I’ll talk to Willie after the games. I’ll have a good grasp of what’s going on. . .I feel comfortable with it.”

bziemer@vancouversun.com; twitter.com/bradziemer

 
 
 
Font:
 
 
 
 
Calgary Flames' Dennis Wideman past St. Louis Blues' Steve Ott during NHL game Thursday, April 2, 2015, in St. Louis. The Blues won 4-1.
 

Calgary Flames' Dennis Wideman past St. Louis Blues' Steve Ott during NHL game Thursday, April 2, 2015, in St. Louis. The Blues won 4-1.

Photograph by: Jeff Roberson, AP

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report spam or abuse. We are using Facebook commenting. Visit our FAQ page for more information.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Your voice