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Flames focused on finding identity

The Flames are striving to find consistency and establish an identity

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

CALGARY, AB -- The idea is there.

The implementation, to date, hasn't been to satisfaction.

And struggle as they have through the first 14 skates of the season, the Calgary Flames know what kind of team they're striving to be.

Night-in, night-out.

"Hard work and speed," detailed Flames forward Troy Brouwer.

"We've got a lot of quick players on this team. We want to move the puck up the ice real quick. We have plans in place when we lose the puck to get it back wherever it is on the ice.

"We have to execute those and be a little bit more assertive and trust ourselves knowing we're good players who can make good plays and we've just got to make the right reads."

Video: Brouwer talks about the Flames' special teams

The version the opposition is getting at the moment?

"Not good enough," Brouwer admitted.

 A 5-8-1 record suggests the team is still struggling to do those things on a consistent basis.

The eye test, too, suggests that there's an inconsistency.

And Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane even suggested it's hard to predict which identity the opposition will show up: a tight-checking crew or the freewheeling Flames.

Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan knows what he wants other teams to expect of his group.

"They know they're going to get a tight-checking game," he said. "It's going to be a quick, tight-checking game that they're going to have to play fast against us because we're young and we play fast. It's not going to be a lot of scoring chances.

"That's the kind of team I'd like to see, rather than a team that stands in the middle of the ring and slugs it out."

That team has been present at times.

All the time is the goal.

"The identity should be a team that comes out hard and plays a full 60 minutes the same way and doesn't change much," said Calgary forward Michael Frolik, who currently leads the Flames with five goals and nine points.

"We've done that for some periods. Hopefully we do it in this stretch now and we're successful.

"That's the main goal, I think, right now to do that. I think we've done it for the most part, it just seems like every mistake ends up in our net.

"We just need to stick with it, I think."

That's the trick.

"It seems like we keep focusing on certain areas of our game and forgetting the areas we've just cleaned up," Brouwer said. "We do one aspect of the game really well and then forget, whether it's support on the breakouts, and then we did a good job and we're working on entries and we do a good job on entries and forget about forwards getting back for the d-men to give them support to break out again.

"We need to just expand our whole look at the game right now. We're really focusing on certain areas and we're doing a really good job of that, but we have to continually remember what we just focused on."

The latest area of focus has been specialty teams. 

An entire practice Wednesday was dedicated to correcting both languishing units.

"Right now we're a team that's struggling on special teams," Brouwer said. "It's a big focus of what everyone is talking about for us right now. We need to have an identity that we're going to be dangerous on the PP and we're going to be a team that's not going to give a whole lot on the PK."`

The power play, clicking at 8.3 percent, is last in the NHL. The penalty kill, at 72.4 percent, is 29th and ahead of only the Blackhawks and their 65.2 percent success rate.

It's one of the last remaining pieces to implementing the team Gulutzan wants his crew to be seen as.

"I think we are establishing an identity five-on-five," Gulutzan said. "We have zero identity on the power play and penalty kill. I think we're establishing the five-on-five identity that we're not giving up as much, we're controlling turnovers.

"We've got a decent five-on-five identity going. I'm not disappointed in that at all. 

"But I am disappointed on the specialty teams." 

Fix those.

Solidify the identity.

Start building.

"Those are the two areas we've got to get better at," Frolik said. "We're sitting at the bottom of those special teams. I think if we're going to be successful in this league you need to be, at least one of them, top-10.

"That's the mindset.

"It's the new goal for us."

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