Home
 
Choose Your City
Change City

Watch out for special teams

How does first place feel, Flames fans? Calgary is on a tear.

How does first place feel, Flames fans? Calgary is on a tear. A 6-2-2 mark in their past 10 games and a 10-2-2 record for the month of November, vaulted the Flames past the upstart Colorado Avalanche to first place in the Northwest Division and put more distance between themselves and the Vancouver Canucks, the team most figured Calgary would battle for the division crown.

Now I don’t want to douse any good feelings, but coach Brent Sutter and his charges do have some concerns: Special teams.

Prior to Monday’s bout with the equally hot Nashville Predators, the Flames power play was ranked 19th and its penalty kill 18th. After a two-for-two performance with the man advantage and the successful kill of all three of the penalties they took, the Flames moved up to ninth on the power play yesterday morning and 17th when a man down.

A perfect showing is a good sign for the Calgary’s special-teams, because the Flames are tempting fate and doomed to a post-season letdown if things don’t turn around. As the stats jump shows, it’s tight in the NHL. And that’s all the more reason to be wary of a troubling trend, namely that Sutter-coached teams in New Jersey the past two years weren't exactly special-teams standouts, either.

And now in Calgary the same thing seems to be happening. Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen up front and Jay Bouwmeester and Dion Phaneuf on the points should be a recipe for extra-man success. And Mikka Kiprusoff in goal, Bouwmeester and Robyn Regehr clearing the crease, and proven penalty killers Daymond Langkow,

In reality, the power play actually got worse statistically during the second month of the season, falling 11 percentage points; and while the PK did jump a little, anything less than 80 per cent is unacceptable and way off the league’s best.

Maybe these are two groups still finding their way within new systems. Maybe it’s a coach still trying to discover how best to use the assets he has. Or maybe it’s just been bad luck. But whatever the problem, it’d better get solved. Fast.

 
Consider AlsoFurther Articles