SUN Hockey Pool

Flames promise special attention

SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:31 PM ET

Improved special teams is something the Calgary Flames are counting on.

But, for one game at least, the (anything but) special teams took a step backwards.

After going 0-for-4 with the man-advantage and surrendering a shorthanded goal and two powerplay markers in their season-opener against the Edmonton Oilers, Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr said both units need to crack the top 10 in the league.

“I think we have to in order to get back in the playoffs,” Regehr said. “I think that’s one of the areas that was looked at by the coaching staff and management over the summer — where can we get better? And those two areas were ones they’ve talked about.”

There was an emphasis placed on the special teams during training camp and in the pre-season.

And there were signs of progress.

But it all came unglued in the provincial capital Thursday night.

“There were a few things we can get better,” Regehr said. “I’ll speak for the penalty-kill.One of the things, though, is just being a lot smarter. When we start taking penalties, you can’t continue taking penalties.

“That really hurt us in Edmonton.”

The Flames’ powerplay was tied for 26th last season, while the PK came in at No. 15.

Clearly, there’s still some work to do.

Winger Alex Tanguay, who plays on both units, said his squad got off to a rough start and couldn’t get straightened out.

“We had some chances,” Tanguay said. “We need to bury the puck.

“The most important thing for our team is not to shoot ourselves in the foot the first 10 or 15 minutes.

“I think there were five or six powerplays in the first period, so it was tough for us to get any momentum.”

Tanguay said the four penalties the Flames took in the first period did more than just kickstart Edmonton’s offence.

The parade to the penalty box also prevented the Flames from generating any kind of flow.

“The guys who play the PK get tired,” he said. “The guys who don’t can’t get in a rhythm.

“We didn’t play very smart after that. We didn’t play our game like we did all pre-season.”

Getting skunked on the powerplay is bad enough. But giving up a shorthanded goal is a big no-no.

Although most Flames fans might just shrug their shoulders and tip their caps to rookie Jordan Eberle for making an out-of-this-world play.

“He did make a great play,” Tanguay said. “But it’s not supposed to happen.

“You’re supposed to be scoring goals on the powerplay. But I hit the post on the penalty-kill in the first period. The game could have been 1-1 and it probably would have changed the game around.

“But that’s part of the game. You need the breaks at the right time, and they certainly got them.”

Tanguay said the highlight-reel goal will be an easy one to remember for Eberle.

He still remembers his first goal (11 years ago Friday), but he admits its wasn’t in the same league as the Oiler freshman’s initial tally.

“No. I still remember who it was against and where it was (Pittsburgh), but it wasn’t as spectacular as this one,” Tanguay said. “He’ll have great memories. It was a great goal, a timely goal.”

Tanguay said there’s no panic in the Flames’ room. It was, after all, just the first game.

“We’re a better team than what we showed (Thursday). But the good news is there’s 81 games left and we have a lot of experience in this dressing room.

“We know it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We might be a little behind after Game 1, but there’s plenty of time to catch up.”

scott.fisher@sunmedia.ca


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