Flames need a power surge

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:14 PM ET


 The Calgary Flames' powerplay was considered a low-voltage accessory this season.

 With just the 21st-ranked unit in the NHL, almost every team had success shutting the door when the Calgary Flames came knocking with the man advantage.

 But the Vancouver Canucks, first-round playoff opponents who statistically boasted the third-best penalty killing unit in 2003-04, were surprisingly generous when facing the Flames.

 Calgary scored on five of 23 powerplay opportunities through six games against Vancouver, a 21% success rate.

 That's much higher than their season average that placed the Flames in the lower third of the league.

 "Special teams are a big part of hockey games, period," says Flames captain Jarome Iginla about the powerplay's role in their series against Vancouver.

 "From watching other playoff series, we realize powerplays could be huge. They're going to be tight games ... You want to make (powerplays) count but our PK will be very important, too. They have a lot of guys to watch.

 "They've had pretty good specialty teams over the years.

 "They've got good defencemen, that's a big part of their penalty kill. They have a good group all the way through, one of the better groups in the league. That's big but they also have experience up front. You have guys who've been great penalty killers for a lot of years -- Trevor Linden, Mike Keene -- that adds to it."

 Flames centre Craig Conroy, who's been sharing powerplay ice with Iginla, says the Canucks have had success killing penalties because of strong defence Mattias Ohlund, Sami Salo and Marek Malik.

 "They've got good defencemen -- we've got to get the puck in and set it up, get a lot of shots and traffic in front," Conroy says.

 "They block a lot of shots for (goaltender Dan) Cloutier, they've got good sticks and you really got to get some shots on net, get rebounds and different things like that. That's probably a key for us. We've got to outwork them, too ."

 Conroy suspects the referees will let them play, rarely whistling offences.

 "Because it's the playoffs, they're not going to call everything," Conroy says.

 "We're probably going to only get three a night, at the most, so we have to cash in on the ones we do get."


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