SUN Hockey Pool

Bert turns in special performance

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

You don't have to tell Todd Bertuzzi how important the powerplay is in today's game.

Just looking at his stats through the first eight games ought to tell you how seriously he takes his time on the unit.

Bertuzzi has scored six times this season. Four of those have come on the powerplay.

As a result, the Flames found themselves sitting seventh in the league prior to last night's games with a 21.3% connection rate.

Not bad considering they went 0-for-13 over the first two games of the season before turning it around with 10 strikes in the last half-dozen.

Just how important is it to make good on special teams?

Consider two-fifths of the Flames offence so far can be attributed to the extra man.

"I'm putting it up there about 80% of the game nowadays, 90% almost," Bertuzzi said of its importance. "You've got to have a pretty deadly powerplay."

It has been. Thanks in large part to Bertuzzi, whose four scores account for 40% of the team's powerplay production.

"Our powerplay's been going good and he's been a big part of that," said Jarome Iginla, who has the second highest team total with a pair scored on the man-advantage. Michael Cammalleri, Dion Phaneuf, Daymond Langkow and Dustin Boyd all have singles.

"We knew he would be, in front, and his hands and everything. He's really enjoying himself and having a big impact, for sure."

Practising the powerplay hasn't always been a big part of the Flames' routine under head coach Mike Keenan.

But they have been spending time on it this season.

"The more time we've spent on it, the better results we've gotten out of it," said Bertuzzi. "When you've got a job to go out there and be on the powerplay, you can't take it for granted. You've got to go out there and work hard. The (penalty kill) is working just as hard as you, if not harder.

"It's an important aspect of the game and I think slowly we've made improvements on it."

The goals aren't always beauties -- take the one that banked off Bertuzzi's skate and then a defenceman's stick in Phoenix Saturday night to open the scoring -- but they all count.

With Iginla, Michael Cammalleri and Dion Phaneuf all boasting big shots, all guys like Bertuzzi and Langkow have to do is go to the net for rebounds or tips and the success should continue.

"If each one of us bring a little bit of what we've done before, and you put it all together, we can be pretty deadly," said Bertuzzi.

"At the same time, you've got to work on it and work hard at it. It just doesn't come naturally. We're very fortunate we've got a lot of good shooters on the team.

"That's where we're getting the majority of our damage done."


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