Killers on the loose

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:30 PM ET

 Tomas Holmstrom and Ed Jovanovski were sent packing from these NHL playoffs by the Calgary Flames.

 They were evicted from their office in front of goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff with minimal damage done to the Flames.

  So who's the immovable force for the San Jose Sharks prone to taking up residence at top of -- and sometimes in -- the crease?

 "There's probably nobody so much like Holmstrom or Jovanovski," said Flames defenceman Andrew Ference, running through the Sharks powerplay in his mind.

 "They've got some more threats from either side with the one-timer with a guy like (Patrick) Marleau or (Vincent) Damphousse floating around looking for that quick shot like Brett Hull would.

 "They're trying to find that open area, so I think they have more of a presence like that than trying to stand right on top of our goalie."

 Good thing sniper Marco Sturm is out with a broken ankle.

 Otherwise, the dangerous Sharks powerplay would have another one-time threat on the Sharks man-advantage.

 Regardless, the Sharks have proved sharp on the post-season powerplay with a sixth-best 14.2% scoring efficiency.

 And, yes, the skilful Marleau and wily Damphousse pace the PP with three and two goals respectively after finishing with nine and seven respectively during the regular season.

 Yet the key for the Flames is still hard work.

 "Absolutely," agreed Flames forward Stephane Yelle, one of the club's premier penalty killers.

 "It's set up that we want good pressure.

 "We want to be aggressive. And the five guys, with the goalie, we want to be on the same page and working hard as a unit.

 "That's the key."

 So is taking away the shots from the point.

 Folks around here will recall Brad Stuart's point shot while he was with the WHL Calgary Hitmen.

 Now the Rocky Mountain House native is hitting pucks hard with the Sharks and was a team-best from the blueline with five powerplay goals in the regular season.

 "Stuart's got a good shot," Yelle said.

 "But a lot of times, it's about getting the puck through and then you don't need the biggest shot in the world.

 "If it makes it to the net, then you get those chances.

 "Us forwards, we have to do a good job preventing the puck to get there and again that's the structure of our penalty kill.

 "They set up their shot pretty well.

 "They've got some good defencemen who shoot the puck. But our main focus is on what we have to do to be successful."

 Of course, staying out of the penalty box is the first step to a perfect penalty kill.

 It certainly would have helped an overall 82.2% efficiency on the kill look a lot better for the Flames in these playoffs.

 "There's always room for improvement," Yelle said.

 "In Vancouver, we gave four (powerplay goals away) in the first game.

 "And against Detroit, we gave three in (Game 2).

 "Our main focus is to stay out of the penalty box, so we don't have to be short one man or two.

 "We've done a decent job but we can do better."

 And the PK focus is certainly on themselves.

 Never mind so much that Marleau and Damphousse might be stationed in the high slot or Stuart is creeping in off the blueline.

 "Our penalty kill is kind of more focused on what we're doing," Ference added.

 "There's nothing too radical that any one team does from another.

 "It's just more a matter of getting our good up-ice pressure and working hard.

 "That's the key to our pressure so far.

 "It's just guys busting their (butts) for the 30 seconds that are out there.

 "It's pretty basic."


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