Flames a work in progress

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

The good: A 2-1-1 road record, and an occasional glimpse of how strong they can be.

The bad: An inability to consistently hold onto leads.

The ugly: A 75% penalty kill rating good for 27th in the league, paired with the 19th-ranked powerplay at 17.3%.

Eleven games into the new season, it's tough to say exactly what the city of Calgary has on its hands with the Flames.

On paper, it's a team with a strong top-six forward group, one of the best defensive corps in the league and an all-world goaltender. But it's how they play as a unit that will determine how the history books -- well, at least the NHL guides -- view the 2007-08 Calgary Flames.

So far, they've been all over the map. Winless in their first two games at the Saddledome, they went on the road and followed another loss in Detroit with wins in Dallas and Nashville and a shootout loss in Denver.

In that game, they ran up a four-goal lead only to watch it fall apart in the second period. They were embarrassed by the visiting Sharks before making a statement of their own with five straight scores to complete a three-goal comeback against the defensively staunch Minnesota Wild.

In the rematch against the Avs, they dominated -- perhaps their best effort of the early season -- but saw their one-goal lead dissolve in the final minutes and were quickly beaten in the overtime period.

"It feels like we should have had two wins against Colorado and not have any points for them," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said Saturday. "But it's part of the learning process. Out of the first 11, we've got to continue to work on our finishing. Finishing teams off.

"It's not going to be easy. We've come back from 3-0. It's not just a given. But we know we can improve in that area."

The lack of finish has led to division rivals Colorado and Vancouver gaining extra points on three occasions. Those are important swings in the standings.

"It's very important because they're getting points off you that may come into effect at the end of the season," said defenceman Robyn Regehr.

Consider the Flames a work in progress.

"I think we're a team that's learning how to win," said coach Mike Keenan.

The next 11 games will go a long way in showing how much they've already learned.


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