Flames need more emotion

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:32 PM ET


 Desperately sifting through the Motor City wreckage from Game 2, searching for signs of life from the Flames?

 Generating just 16 shots -- including three in the first period of a 5-2 loss to the Red Wings -- doesn't inspire unbridled optimism.

 But Ville Nieminen was still smiling yesterday, good news indeed.

 Not that the plucky Finnish forward isn't always flashing his devilish grin, even in the face of despair, but Nieminen seems to have an answer for the Flames' frustrating lack of offence against the potent Wings.

 "We need to be a step ahead of them, be emotional all the time," Nieminen suggested yesterday at the Saddledome.

 "Motion and emotion."

 Emotion is the simple part of the equation with more than 19,000 fans set to rattle the 'Dome for Game 3 tomorrow night, the first home date since losing to Vancouver in triple overtime in Game 6

 The motion, Nieminen suggests, could be generated from throwing more rubber at Red Wings goalie Curtis Joseph, although that's more easily said than done.

 "We need to get 30 shots a game and when we get 30 shots there's going to be rebounds and we're going to get some offensive cycle going and we'll get pressure around their net," explained Nieminen, who directed just one shot at Joseph in Game 2.

 "Everything starts from shooting the puck.

 "The series is 1-1, not like we're down 2-0 or anything like that. We got one win from there, we're more than happy with that. We're very much looking forward to playing tomorrow) in Game 3.

 "We can definitely play a lot better. We proved in the past we can play better but I think we need to have the same intensity right off the bat, like we had in the third period (of Game 2). Make them skate, make the defencemen turn, play boring so they don't get the easy outlet passes, easy odd-man rushes. We just have to find our legs and break their defensive plan. We need to get inside. We were outsiders now we need to be insiders."

 With only three shots on Joseph in the opening 20 minutes Saturday, assistant coach Rich Preston points out the Flames' obvious need to get pucks on the net while using team speed to generate offence.

 "We need to find a way to get more shots and I think from a defence too, we have to get shots through to the net," explained Preston, who saw the Flames generate just 16 shots on goal in Game 2.

 "How do we do it? Well, looking at Game 2, we can do things a lot better in the neutral zone. Our forwards can generate more speed through the neutral zone. The way Detroit plays, with three across the blueline, we can't let them slow us down. Create more movement, more creativity from the forwards.

 "We have to put pucks on the net and get people to the net. Every team talks about it but that's how you score. Goaltending is so good nowadays, if they see the puck, they're going to stop it, so you have to get people going to the net so the goalie's worried about not only the puck but somebody driving to the net."

 "The good thing is it's 1-1," Preston continued. "We know (our play) can be a lot better and we talk about it all the time. When we play good defence, it creates offence, every coach will tell you that.We know our best how is ahead of us."

 In addition to firing more pucks at the net, creating traffic in front of Joseph is another route to creating more scoring chances. Forwards Chris Clark, Martin Gelinas and Nieminen will all be expected to park in front of the Wings net. The eventual return of left-winger Chris Simon would also help.

 "Getting the puck to the net is first and foremost but then again you can't do much if the goalie sees it, so we've got to get bodies there as well," offered winger Clark.

 "We're not going to score if we're not getting shots to the net. We've had opportunities but shots are getting blocked and missing the net we've got to get pucks and bodies to the net."


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