Special teams can make a difference.
So the Calgary Flames, with a rare chance to practice in the last couple of weeks, spent much of practice on Tuesday working on the power play. Under the guidance of head coach Brent Sutter and assistant coach Dave Lowry, Jarome Iginla, David Moss, Dustin Boyd, Olli Jokinen, Mark Giordano and Dion Phaneuf spent about 30 minutes running the power play before leaving the ice.
The power play is 0-14 over the last five games.
"We know the power play needs to be big for us," said Iginla. "We want to get it to a top 10 power play. Same with the penalty kill. We want our special teams in the top 10. That's our goal. We know it needs to be better so we will keep working on it."
Prior to action on Tuesday, the Flames penalty kill was ranked eighth overall in the league while the power play was ranked 25th.
"You have to stay focussed and believe the offence will come for us and a big part of that is getting the power play going," said head coach Brent Sutter. "We're at the bottom third of the league on the power play and that's not good enough."
A positive sign from Monday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Avs was the fact that the Flames got 12 shots on net on the power play but were stymied by outstanding goaltending from Craig Anderson.
On Monday, when the Flames hooked up against the Avs, there were three fights in the first five minutes and just one shot on goal for both teams.
Robyn Regehr was the first as he fought Chris Stewart. Then the heavyweights, Brian McGrattan and David Koci dropped the mitts for a very spirited bout. Seconds later it was Brandon Prust going with Cody McLeod.
A couple of nights earlier Prust helped spark the Flames with two fights with Vancouver's Mark Rypien.
"Not a lot of guys know that much about him, but I played with him in the minors, and I certainly know how tough he is. Seen him fight plenty of times and really never seen him get beat up," said Flames forward David Moss of Prust. "Obviously in the dressing room, and certainly in the divison, he gets respect. All those guys do, because the job they have is not easy."
While Prust is playing sparkplug these days, he can also play a little hockey, noted Moss.
"He's not just a fighter. A good player. See when their line cycles the puck so well, they can create chances, wear other teams down. It's not every night they're going to play big minutes, but when they do get them, they're effective."
For good measure both McGrattan and Prust assisted on Dustin Boyd's goal in the second period against the Avs.
Flames launch 14th annual Reading...Give it a Shot program
Flames players and program Ambassadors Robyn Regehr, David Moss and Eric Nystrom plus mascot Harvey the Hound kicked off the 14th annual Reading...Give it a Shot Program today at Roland Michener School in northeast Calgary.
The Flames were joined by the Calgary Educational Partnership Foundation’s President and CEO Kevin Reeves, as well as sponsor representatives.
Representatives at the launch reinforced their support of, not only the program, but the benefits of literacy. Reading…Give it a shot! runs from January 12th through March 12th , 2010. Students will receive bookmarks featuring various Flames Players based upon minutes spent reading. In increments of 100 minutes reading time, students will receive one of the 24 Flames commemorative bookmarks that include an action shot as well as information about the player.
"To have the audacity to go in there and pull something like that -- it should be banned. The league should maybe come up with some kind of repercussion for people like that. ' - Flames defenceman Cory Sarich on a Vancouver fan pointing a green laser beam at Miikka Kiprusoff on Saturday.
"They are obviously good players and you have to be aware when they are on the ice." - Flames coach Brent Sutter on facing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin
"We are looking forward to the game. They are the Stanley Cup Champions. It's always fun to play them. They have a lot of firepower. It will be a big challenge for us." - Jarome Iginla on facing the Penguins.
By the numbers....
The Flames are 6-3-1 in their last 10 while the Penguins are 3-7-0. The Pens are coming off a 4-3 loss Monday in Minnesota. Captain Sidney Crosby had two goals and an assist. He has 29 goals on the season, tied for the league lead...The Flames leaders in shots are Jarome Iginla (141), Rene Bourque (117) and Dion Phaneuf (105).