Flames Watch: Langkow needs to step up

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When Daymond Langkow gave up a chance at unrestricted free agency to re-sign with the Flames this summer, it was supposed to be a win-win situation for both himself and the team.

Langkow might have been able to secure $5 million had he made himself available to the highest bidder. But by staying in Calgary and signing for four years at $4.5 million a season, he gave the Flames a bit of a home-province discount. He also had the added benefit of playing alongside a Hart Trophy candidate.

Let’s face it. Any NHL player with a modicum of talent should score 20 goals and 50 points centering a line with Jarome Iginla and whomever.

So expectations for Langkow were again in the neighborhood of 30 goals and 70 points. For the stipend he’s getting and the linemate he sees on his right side, that’s the very least the organization and fans should expect.

Through 22 games, however, Langkow has just five goals and 15 points. That prorates to 19 goals and 56 points, which isn’t good enough. Take away the eight points Langkow has on the power play and that means he has just seven points in 5-on-5 play through 22 games.

Langkow has long fallen into the category of being too good to be classified a No. 2 center, but not productive enough to be a top tier No. 1 center. He’s creative on the rush, has a wonderfully quick release and is extremely reliable, having missed just six games the past six seasons.

But there’s something missing this season. He had six points in the Flames’ first five games, but after getting leveled by Washington’s Tyler Sloan Oct. 21, Langkow has been a shadow of his former self – both in his play and on the scoresheet (nine points in 17 games.)

In Tuesday’s 6-2 victory over Los Angeles, Matthew Lombardi played center on the top line with Mike Cammalleri and Iginla and the trio combined for two goals and five points. The energy line of Craig Conroy, Curtis Glencross and Rene Bourque filled the net as well. And the checking line of Wayne Primeau. Eric Nystrom and David Moss looked sharp.

Meanwhile, Langkow was barely noticeable with Todd Bertuzzi and Dustin Boyd. It’s time he caught up with the rest of the forwards.

This column also appears in the Calgary Metro newspaper.

Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. You can read his Top 10 list on Wednesdays and his blog each weekend.

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