SUN Hockey Pool

Stingy penalty killing corps breathe life into Flames

STEVE MACFARLANE

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

No one would suggest it's a good idea to take a penalty.

But the Calgary Flames penalty killers have done such a good job, some might even say the effort has led to the past couple of wins -- albeit indirectly.

"I think the last two games, it's given us a chance to still be in the game and win the game," said defenceman Robyn Regehr, whose team had to battle through a nine-minute pileup of penalties on winger Rene Bourque in a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals at home earlier in the week, and back-to-back 5-on-3 advantages for the opposition in a 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators Thursday.

With a success rate of 84.1%, the unit was ranked 10th in the NHL prior to last night's schedule.

They've been in the top third of the league regularly since adjusting their style after the first quarter of last season.

"Well, we've had a lot of hard work," said head coach Mike Keenan of the penalty killing unit's success so far.

"We changed our penalty killing -- I mentioned it after 20 games last year -- and the last 60 games or 62 games of the season we had a pretty good penalty killing record.

"We really continued from that point."

PLENTY O' PRIMEAU

Racking up almost twice as much ice time as his average in four previous games, Flames forward Wayne Primeau took advantage of his strong penalty killing to earn a more regular shift in Nashville.

He finished with an assist (on David Moss' tying goal) and a plus-1 rating in 14:11, almost seven minutes of which came on the kill. Primeau's previous high this year was 9:20 of action against the Oilers in Calgary. He was a healthy scratch the next night.

"He was really a worker for us last night, and had consistency in his game. We were having trouble finding a lot of players that had that consistency," Keenan said. "He was rewarded for his effort."

Penalized for a lack thereof was winger Curtis Glencross, who saw just two shifts in the second period and rode the pine for the entire third, finishing with just 3:39 of ice-time against the Predators.

A couple of turnovers in the neutral zone certainly didn't help Glencross' cause.

"The other side, the flip side of it," said Keenan, transitioning his talk from Primeau to Glencross.

"When you're struggling a little bit or you're off your game a bit, unfortunately, for the balance of the team, you have to put the players in that are more on than not.

"You try to give him an opportunity to work through it, but then you find yourself in a deficit and you have to make choices and decisions quickly."


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