Powerplay proving woefully 'short' of adequate

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

NEWARK -- If once is an aberration and twice is a trend, 14 times is an abomination.

The Flames surrendered a shorthanded goal for the 14th time this season in last night's 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

Make that a league-leading 14th time.

Bad enough the Flames powerplay has gone in fits and starts and looked like it's scored 55 times in spite of itself, but the ongoing problem of giving up goals at key times is becoming extremely costly.

A team that entered the night on a two-game losing skid, Calgary was showing signs of breaking out of that slump and holding a 1-0 lead in the second period of their date with the Devils.

Then came Jamie Langenbrunner's momentum-swinging shorthanded goal, which came with a pinpoint shot while the Devils were on a three-on-two rush, to tie the game.

"They let the team down, as far as that part of the game, because we've addressed it," said head coach Mike Keenan of his powerplay units. "In a game we had established a very good road game, it does two things -- deflates your team and inspires the other team or gives them momentum and they took advantage of it.

"They didn't necessarily carry the play for a lot of play after that, but they were opportunistic."

The franchise record for shorthanded goals allowed in a season is 21, set in 1984-85, so it'll take a complete breakdown of mammoth proportion to equal that mark, but the way things are going nothing can be ruled out.

The New York Rangers have also allowed 14 shorthanded tallies.

You can joke about declining penalties, but it must be to the point Flaming C fans simply hope their heroes will kill off the penalty and go about their business in five-on-five play.

"We can't get scored on. It's not acceptable. We take full responsibility, the guys out there," said Dion Phaneuf, one of the five skaters on the ice when Langenbrunner scored. "It's a big goal for their team and they kept coming after that.

"It's not good enough. The guys that are out there, we're responsible. We're responsible for producing on the powerplay, not getting scored on."

They did score with the man-advantage last night, a meaningless goal by Curtis Glencross with less than a second remaining. It was their seventh powerplay on the night, which added up to too little, too late.

The club's not-so-special teams wasn't that much better on the penalty kill either, allowing Brian Rolston's go-ahead goal before the second intermission.

Giving up goals when enjoying an extra attacker has simply reached the point of being inexcusable.

Certainly Keenan has seen enough of it.

"I think it's part of being vigilant and looking after details as you would even on five-on-five play, being more detailed in the defensive responsibilities that come, even with the man advantage," he said. "And now, when you show the league -- I was going to say the conference, but really it's the league -- you're not looking after those details, then they're looking for them."


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