Extra man lacks punch

a href="mailto:dan.toth@calgarysun.com">DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 3:52 PM ET


 If you believe in numbers, the Calgary Flames' powerplay isn't striking fear into the hearts of opponents during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

 The Flames have just nine man-advantage markers through 19 games, a 10.7% efficiency rate, placing it somewhere between lukewarm and tepid.

 "Special teams are key," suggests defenceman Jordan Leopold.

 "(The Tampa Bay Lightning) have been very good on the powerplay and we realize that and have to be smart and take advantage of our opportunities as well."

 Timely powerplay goals, the Flames will tell you, are more significant than scoring in waves. Close games, a benchmark of the team's post-season run through three series, can be swung in the Flames' favour by capitalizing with an extra skater.

 But Calgary has hardly taken advantage in recent games with the man-advantage.

 In the last nine contests, the Flames have managed just two goals on 32 powerplay chances.

 "Their goalie (Nikolai Khabibulin) is probably the best in the business, so we need to find a way, we need to challenge ourselves," says Flames winger Ville Nieminen of making the most of powerplay situations.

 "It's going to be a long series again. This guy is really big, a big guy and he covers the bottom of the net and is by far the best we're going to face."

 Making the Flames' powerplay situation appear even more dire heading into the final is the Lightning's efficiency in killing off short-handed situations. In the team's seven-game showdown over the Philadelphia Flyers, the Bolts allowed just one goal on Philly's 26 opportunities.

 "They're fast as a group and we think we're a fast group," says captain Jarome Iginla, who leads the club with three powerplay markers.

 "They're a very skilled group, a high-scoring group and we like to play very physical which should make for a great series."

 Chris Simon has a pair of goals with the man-advantage while Craig Conroy, Martin Gelinas, Chris Clark and Oleg Saprykin have posted one powerplay goal apiece.


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