Flames are turning up the heat as Blues head to Calgary
CALGARY, Alberta — Sam Bennett had a rough start to his season with the Calgary Flames.
After Bennett came through with a goal and three assists in Calgary’s 6-1 road win over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, his 15-game scoring slump at the beginning of the season is a distant memory.
“There’s going to be a lot of ups and downs,” said Bennett, who’s hoping to build upon his four-point performance when the Flames (17-14-3) host the St. Louis Blues (22-11-2) on Wednesday at the Scotiabank Saddledome. “You can’t get too high and you can’t get too low.
“You’ve got to try and stay as even keel as you can. That’s the only way you’re going to be able to get through tough times.”
After logging just three points in his first 23 games, Bennett has four goals and eight assists in his past 11 games.
“Even when I wasn’t producing in the first 15, I thought I was still working hard,” said Bennett, who had a goal and an assist during Calgary’s 7-4 win over St. Louis at the Saddledome on Nov. 13. “Sometimes the bounces don’t go your way. I didn’t really change my game too much, just kept working hard. I’m happy it turned around for me.”
Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan said Bennett has put in a lot of work to rebound from his slow start.
“He’s doing a lot of good things away from the puck that’s allowing him to be better defensively and creating offense for him,” said Gulutzan, who noted that Bennett has been getting helpful advice from veteran right winger Jaromir Jagr. “When you have a guy of that stature who’s taken an interest in your game in a positive way, you’re going to listen and it’s going to be helpful.”
Calgary captain Mark Giordano has also found his scoring touch with three goals and two assists in his past eight games. The veteran 34-year-old defenseman said he’s hoping that he and his teammates can build upon their win over the Canucks when they host the Blues.
“I think they’ve been one of the better teams in the league all year for a reason,” Giordano said. “They’ve got a lot of firepower up front and guys who can really shoot the puck and put it in.
“We feel like we’ve been playing well, too, but haven’t got the results every night. If we can continue to play like that, I think we’ll end up with some points here.”
The Blues have dropped three of their past four games, including a 4-0 road loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. They have gone 2-3-1 since Jaden Schwartz was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
“But we’re still a better hockey team than what we’ve shown the last couple games,” Blues coach Mike Yeo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I do feel that part of it was we went through a difficult stretch. A lot of games. Fatigue can set in. But that’s not an excuse anymore.”
Although the Blues have scored only three goals in their past four games, Yeo said he’s expecting his players to go on the attack against the Flames.
“We have to have the mindset that we have to get to the offensive zone,” Yeo said. “(The Flames) transition too well, they’re too dangerous off the rush. The way that their D gets involved, if we’re turning pucks over and if we don’t have the right structure in our game, then we’ll be chasing again.”
After being recalled from the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, forward Tage Thompson practiced on a line with veterans Alexander Steen and Paul Stastny on Tuesday.
“Obviously, it’s an amazing opportunity playing with two of the best players in the league,” said Thompson, who did not record a point in four games earlier this season with the Blues. “They’re giving me a really good opportunity, so I just got to take advantage of it.”