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Steadily improving

The Flames remain focused on improvment despite 2-0 start

Monday, 10.5.2009 / 2:31 PM MT / News
By Peter Zuurbier
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Steadily improving
While the Flames have been working to re-establish their identity since the beginning of training camp, game situations are the only real gauge for the team's progress.
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Despite starting the season off 2-0 the team is singing a familiar tune, as to a man they continue to assert that they are still learning, still transforming into the team they want to be. And as such, the group as a whole believes there is still work to be done.

"There's always room for improvement. As each game goes by you learn more about where guys are going to be, reading off each other, and there's certainly a lot of room for improvement," said David Moss.

Moss scored two goals against the Oilers, including tipping the game winning puck past an overly-ambitious Nikolai Khabibulin, who paid the ultimate price for his fancy stick work. Regardless of early success, Moss continues the harmonious refrain that the team is still under development.

"Sometimes I think we're trying to make too many plays when we can just hold onto the puck down low and try to wear a team down. As games go by hopefully we'll be better," said Moss.

Having broken the game down to its absolute fundamentals for the players, head coach Brent Sutter has been impressed with the entire groups’ commitment to improvement.

"Can we play better than we've played in the first two games? Yeah we know we can. But we were able to get points and they're doing everything they can to make their games better which allows our team to be better," said Sutter.

"We've had to deal with a lot here as far as how we want to play and what kind of team we are and the guys have been fantastic and very receptive. There is change, and that takes time, and they're focused in on doing that."

The Flames early season success has come with a relatively quiet start from the Flames' big guns. The duo of Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen hasn't been devastating just yet, but according to all those involved, their progression into the new system has focused on the other aspects of the game so far.

"They're two players (Iginla and Jokinen) like everyone else in the room right now, we're still working through things to make sure our team is good, and Jarome and Olli are taking pride in that. I know offensively everything will be fine with both of them, if they just continue to focus on our team game," said coach Sutter.

"Do I think (Iginla and Jokinen) can continue to improve? Yes I do, like everybody else, just like the coaching staff we can all get better too. We're all in this together."

"We have been solid defensively which was the focus at the beginning of the year, and you win games and that's what it's about," said Iginla, who is elated with the team's collective play so far.

"We haven't been 2-0 in a long time, and that's two very important division games. We've been doing what it takes to win, it's great to see different lines (perform well) on different nights and that's part of a good team."

"There's always room to improve. I think the last game was better for our line. We're happy to be winning games, we got some production from the other side," agreed Jokinen, who feels good things are on the horizon.

"We've got to play our game, shoot the puck a bit more. 2-0 is a good start to the season; we just need to keep building."

The Flames have three games this week, beginning Tuesday against Montreal at home. They also head north for round two of this year's Battle of Alberta on Thursday before returning to the 'Dome to face the Dallas Stars on Friday.

"We all know that we need to have better starts, and so far we did. But it's not going to get any easier, we need to keep working on stuff," said Miikka Kiprusoff, who has been his usual steady self in the Flames net.

"We feel that we need to keep working everyday, we're getting better game after game, but right now the biggest thing is getting a win against Montreal."