SUN Hockey Pool

Scoring secondary

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

MONTREAL -- The wins are adding up.

The goals against are decreasing.

Still, all's not perfect for the Flames these days.

The team's high-flying offence, which started the season on a tear, has cooled off.

"That'll come. I think it's about wins," captain Jarome Iginla said after yesterday's skate in Montreal.

"We've made it a real focus to try and get better defensively and I think it's coming. We'll be capable of scoring goals, but the most important thing is winning.

"It's about getting that next win, whether you score lots of goals or not."

Nobody can complain about victories, even if they're low-scoring, such as Tuesday's 1-0 win over Montreal.

Over the last six games, Calgary has only 12 goals.

Iginla has six of them.

The secondary scoring, which was so key to success in the opening month, has dissipated.

"I think teams are playing us tighter, too. They're matching lines with us, especially on the road," said Rene Bourque, who leads the team with 18 points.

Certainly, the Flames arebeing checked more closely. Since Bourque and linemates Nigel Dawes and Daymond Langkow are off to a solid start, they've received more focus.

"Usually our line plays against the other team's top lines, or the No.-1 set of defencemen, so it's not anything extra," Bourque said.

"It's good if teams look at our line, because we have two good scoring lines. It'll be hard for teams to match up against two strong lines."

But, right now, nobody's providing a consistent stream of goals other than Iginla and Langkow, who has three goals in the last half-dozen games.

Dawes has been blanked in that span, as has David Moss, Fredrik Sjostrom and other third- and fourth-line players like Eric Nystrom, who came up big for the team during the opening 10 games, which saw Calgary score 40 times.

The powerplay that was so strong in the early going has turned colder than a prairie wind in December.

Calgary has only two man-advantage markers in 24 chances over the last half-dozen games.

The road powerplay is limping along at a 12% rate (3-for-25).

Yesterday's practice included a refresher in that department.

"We don't do enough as far as putting the pucks on the net," said head coach Brent Sutter. "We've got to shoot the puck more.

"The Montreal game didn't need to be a 1-0 game. If our powerplay would have capitalized, it would have made a difference. The one unit -- Daymond, Dawes and Bourque with Gio (Mark Giordano) and Robyn (Regehr) on the back end -- created scoring chances because they put a lot of pucks at the net.

"The other group is trying to make perfect plays.

"With Jarome's shot and Dion (Phaneuf), the way he shoots the puck, and the way Bo (Jay Bouwmeester) shoots and skates ... we're playing too much on the perimeter.

"Get more action around the net and create more that way."

When the Flames start to score again with more regularity, Iginla believes, all four lines will be back to lighting the lamp at opportune times.

"You get that powerplay goal and it's not just a big boost for the bench, but also the other team starts pressing, takes a few more chances, and that's when you can extend the lead," Iginla said.

"A one-goal game, the other team thinks, 'We just keep playing the same way, and if it takes to the last minute, with our goalie pulled or whatever, (we can tie it up).'

"But if you stretch (the lead) from one to two goals, they start taking chances and you get the odd-man rushes."

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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