Special focus in practice

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

DENVER -- The session wasn't long.

It wasn't too hard to figure out what the key elements being stressed were, though, when the Calgary Flames hit the ice for practice yesterday at the Big Bear rink in suburban Denver.

Pretty much the whole time was spent working on the powerplay and penalty kill.

"Our special teams have to make a difference and our goaltender has to make a difference," said head coach Mike Keenan, who let his assistants run the session.

The Flames have lost two straight, with their special teams the biggest cause.

The Flames have fallen to 20th on the powerplay at 15.9%. On the road, it's clicking at a minuscule 5.9% rate.

The penalty killing has been their Achilles heel all year. The Flames sit near the bottom of the league with a miserable 73.7% success rate.

It's starting to wear on the charges.

Cory Sarich was being counted on to help with the PK, but the defensive defenceman is coming off a tough outing in Minnesota and starting to take the club's disadvantage disaster personally.

"I know that I did a lot of thinking about it myself and (Saturday) night there wasn't a lot of sleep after having a game like that," he said.

"You have to think about it, watch tapes of what you did wrong and try not to make those mistakes again."

The answer is both physical and mental, according to associate coach Jim Playfair, whose job includes the gameplan for the penalty kill.

"The penalty kill is more about knowing about when to pressure and when to contain, and that's more of a read and react situation," he said.

"That's something, when you look at our group, with our defence and our goaltender and our forwards, we should be really good at.

"It's a clear indication of our overall team play.


Videos

Photos