Calgary Flames: The Real Deal

Lou DiVizioContributor IDecember 13, 2009

For the first time since the lockout, the Calgary Flames are finally playing consistent hockey. For years they have had the makings of a real Stanley Cup contender, but have never been able to put a steady effort on the ice for more than a few games at a time. It seems that coach Brent Sutter has finally brought an end to this problem, as the Flames have earned a record of 7-2-1 over their last ten games, once again climbing to the top of the North West Division.
Calgary's road record of 11-3-3 speaks volumes about their style of play, hard nosed, defensive hockey. Road wins are hard to come by in the new NHL, but the teams that can get it done away from home (i.e. New Jersey, Calgary) will always find success.
Many people had a few concerns about Calgary's offensive capabilities leading into this year's season, including myself, but the team has shown that they have what it takes to put the puck in the opposition's net, while keeping it out of their own. Jarome Iginla is now rolling coming off his red hot month of November, and I doubt he will look back. Olli Jokinen is finally picking up his points after an average start to the year. These players are expected to contribute large amounts, but what is really helping Calgary's offense are the contributions of Nigel Dawes, Curtis Glencross, David Moss, and Rene Bourque. These players are producing points night in and night out for the Flames, giving them one of the best, yet most underrated offenses in the NHL; however a team cannot win with fire power alone.
With the acquisition of Jay Bouwmeester during the off season, the Flames shored up one of the best defensive units in the NHL. Although he is on pace for a few less points than last season, his contributions off the score sheet have been a huge part to the Flames success so far this year. He is averaging around 28 min per-game this season, taking a lot of pressure off of both Dion Phaneuf, and Robyn Regehr. His solid positional play, along with his effortless skating allows him to shut down the opposition's top scorers with ease. Without Jay Bouwmeester, the Flames would not be in the same position they are today.
And let's not forget Miikka Kiprusoff, one of the best goaltenders in the world, and the hottest in the NHL early in December. The soft-spoken Fin is in the NHL's top ten in goals against, goals against average, shutouts, save percentage, total minutes, and wins (top five in all but GA and GAA).
The Flames once again have the makings for a real Cup contender, but the difference is this year, they're playing like it.