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Flames coach seeks discipline from his crew

Only Anaheim has been whistled for more minor penalties this season

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

CALGARY, AB -- Too often, those trips to the penalty box. 
 
More than Calgary Flames coach Glen Gulutzan would care for, anyway. 
 
And it's why he used his best option at sending that message Friday. 
 
"I thought that everybody would pick up on the guys that took a few (penalties) last night … didn't play in the last five minutes of the second and not until the 8-minute mark of the third period did some of our players get their first shift," Gulutzan said. "We went three lines for 12-and-a-half minutes. 

"We have to be disciplined. We talked about it after the first and then we took a couple other penalties in the second. 
 
"I had had enough."
 
Only the Anaheim Ducks, at 42, have been shorthanded on more occasions than the Flames have this season. 
 
Calgary, for those counting, has rolled out their penalty killing unit 41 times.   
 
Four of those came in Calgary's 5-2 win against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday, with tripping and holding infractions being flagged on Sam Bennett, and singles to Matthew Tkachuk and veteran Kris Versteeg for holding the stick. 
 
Versteeg saw three shifts in the third period. 
 
Tkachuk skated for three, as well. 
 
And Bennett? A trio, too. 
 
"That's the way you curtail it," Gulutzan said. "The one thing you always have is ice time. That's the most valuable part of any player's day in-game is the ice. If we don't start playing disciplined, then we aren't going to put those guys on the ice."
 
It's a lesson learned for the pair of youngsters. 

Bennett, 20, has 20 minutes in minor penalties this season. 
 
Tkachuk, 18, has eight. 
 
The coach appreciates and understands their youthful exuberance. 
 
If it's in moderation. 
 
"You'd rather tame a mustang than beat a mule," Gulutzan said. "You want to keep those guys on the edge. But you have to let them know.
 
"When they're young … and I've coached young guys. They over-try. They want it. It's not a matter of they don't care of they haven't learned. They just over-try. 
 
"Sam gets a pass picked off and he wants the puck back so he swings at it. 
 
"Matty was a holding penalty. That can happen to anybody battling for a puck. You grab and it's a little instinctual. Then there was a second grab in the offensive zone. 
 
"It's just planting those seeds of awareness about where you are on the ice."
 
The Senators scored twice, both skipping off something on their way in, on their four opportunities.
 
It's the only times Ottawa beat starter Brian Elliott, who turned aside 31 shots in total. 
 
"I think when you're running and trying too hard, sometimes you can over-extend yourself and put yourself in bad spots," Flames captain Mark Giordano said. "I think we've done a better job of it. Last game, discipline comes into question because they scored on their power plays. 
 
"It's on us penalty killers, when a guy does take a penalty, or someone takes a bad one, we have to kill them for each other."
 
"Sometimes you try and do too much," echoed veteran Matt Stajan, who is a fixture on a penalty kill operating at 73.2 percent -- 25th in the League entering action Saturday. "Sometimes less is more. Trying to do too much … you get your stick caught between a guy's legs … that's a trip. It's the way it goes. 
 
"We have to do a better job, especially penalties away from our net, in the offensive zone. Those are the ones that seem to kill teams. We talk about it. It's something we've got to improve on. 
 
"As a player on the team, you don't want to put your penalty killers in a situation to kill a lot of penalties. It's something that we talk about a lot."
 
But not every penalty is a bad one. 
 
Some, by nature, are necessities. 
 
And it's a point Gulutzan hopes to get through.
 
Because not all of the 41 shorthanded situations have been needed. 
 
"We talked about it," Gulutzan said. "If we're defending and we need to haul a guy down, and he's going to get a scoring chance then maybe that's what we have to do. If we're in the offensive zone and someone beats us, we can't reach out and grab and hold. We can avoid those penalties. 
 
"We'll kill the ones we need to kill and move on.
 
"All that's learning for the guys. 
 
"There's certain ways to get their attention."

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