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Calgary Flames coach Darryl Sutter on Matthew Phillips: “There’s a big difference” between the AHL and NHL

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Photo credit:Eric Boldt/Calgary Wranglers
Mike Gould
1 month ago
Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter fielded a direct question on Matthew Phillips from TSN’s Salim Valji during his Friday media availability at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Valji and Sutter had a brief exchange before Sutter shared some of his general thoughts about the Calgary Wranglers and the American Hockey League.
Salim Valji: Matthew Phillips is coming off a pretty impressive month on the farm team. Have you looked at the farm as sort of an option maybe to add a little bit to your group right now, or?
Darryl Sutter: So are we talking about the farm or are we talking about Matthew Phillips?
Valji: Well, Matthew Phillips is among the AHL leaders and I think fans are kind of curious if he’ll get …
Sutter: Yeah, well, you were curious about it three years ago so you can keep your curiosity. […] I watch the farm team live more than I have at any point since I’ve been here and it’s still very much, the team’s doing really well but there’s a big difference between American League to the NHL in terms of production.
Phillips is the AHL’s reigning player of the month and has been the driving force behind the Wranglers going 9–1–1 in their last 11 games. The Flames originally selected the 5’8″, 160-pound forward in the sixth round (No. 166 overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft; in five professional seasons with the organization, he’s played just one NHL game.
The Flames fell 2–1 to the Montreal Canadiens at home on Thursday evening, beating opposing goaltender Jake Allen just once on 46 shots. Calgary ranks second-last in the Pacific Division with 68 goals in 23 games this year, ahead of only the Anaheim Ducks.
Phillips currently leads the entire AHL with 13 goals and 26 points in 18 games this season. He also led the Stockton Heat with 68 points in 65 games last year. He’ll likely be in the lineup as the Wranglers visit the San Diego Gulls on Friday night.
Calgary’s existing depth has struggled to score this season. It’s now been 82 games since Milan Lucic last scored a goal with his hockey stick; Kevin Rooney has been relegated to the press box on a regular basis and is coming up on the one-year anniversary (December 7) of his last goal.
As a player, Sutter — a 5’11” forward — appeared in 88 games over parts of two AHL seasons before being promoted to the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks at age 21. He scored 40 goals in his first full NHL campaign and was named the Blackhawks’ captain two years later.

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