Flames under fire!

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:37 AM ET

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Some numbers don't lie.

Numbers like 38, 39 and 47 -- the number of shots Calgary Flames opponents have taken over the past three games in Minnesota and Nashville.

Those totals are well above the Flames' 27.6 season average, which has been on the rise lately.

But the truths they speak aren't always as they appear.

Defenceman Andrew Ference admits the team hasn't been at its best on this road trip but says there are more factors at work than just his blueline brethren having sub-par games.

"It's pretty simple to keep shots down. It's good defensive efforts by the entire team," said Ference yesterday after an intense practice at the Savvis Center.

"One of the reasons we can keep shots down some games is because we're playing in the other team's zone."

In other words, sometimes the best defence is a good offence. Or, at least a good puck-possession game.

"If we're cycling the puck and we're aggressive -- wearing the other team out in their zone -- obviously they're not going to get too many shots on us," said Ference before pointing out another of the recent contributors to the upward swing in shots. "If we keep the powerplays for the opposition down, that takes the shots away.

"Right there, it's a couple of huge factors over the last couple of games as to why the shots have been in favour of the other teams.

"We haven't spent that much time in the opposition zone, really cycling and taking it to them. Really having dominating periods."

There is a difference between shots and quality scoring chances, though, and that difference was evident during the Flames' win over the Minnesota Wild Sunday night.

The Flames only managed 19 shots of their own but came away with a 3-2 victory because the top line capitalized on its opportunities. The team also managed to keep the Wild's quality chances -- if not their actual shot count -- down by forcing shots from bad angles or lengthy distances.

"Teams are going to shoot from everywhere," said Ference. "Good chances are the ones you want to keep down. It's a five-man unit. It's not if the defence is having a strong game or not, it's whether or not everybody's really checked off in their positions."


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