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IGNITING THE OFFENCE

The Flames are pushing to get their offensive game on track

by ARI YANOVER @NHLFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

The season can be a long and winding road.

Rarely does it take a linear approach. Good teams won't always look on top of the world; poor teams will still have bursts of great play. Over the course of 82 games, things will likely sort themselves out, even if it doesn't always seem like it in the immediate.

"Our game's better now," coach Glen Gulutzan said, following the Flames' Saturday morning skate. "We're just not getting results."

Though the team dropped a 2-1 decision to the Dallas Stars on Friday evening, Gulutzan is happier with how they're playing now than he was at the start of the season.

"You just gotta keep doing the right things," he said.

One of those things is scoring - and right now, the Flames are having a tough time finding the back of the net.

It's not that they aren't creating chances. They generate 28.74 scoring chances per 60 minutes, according to Natural Stat Trick. That's good for 17th in the NHL, which doesn't match up with their actual production: 2.27 goals per game, 29th in the league.

One explanation? Their shooting percentage is 7.35% - third lowest in the NHL.

That doesn't mean there isn't still work to do, though.

"I thought yesterday we didn't shoot the puck enough," Gulutzan said. "And now, you're not going to take the stick out of the guy's hands, but we do have to have a little bit more of a shooting mentality. When we were in some prime spots we elected to pass it off."

Mikael Backlund said the Flames have talked about simplifying their game.

"Yeah, I think things will open up if you put pucks to the net," he said. "It usually breaks the other team down. And especially early in games, we've gotta be little more direct I think, here at home, make it hard on teams coming into this building, make it tough for them, knowing it's going to be a long night."

Even with the recent setbacks, though, spirits are still high among the players.

"I think guys are still in good mood here," Backlund said. "I think we've been paying better hockey as of late. We've just got to find a way to win games, and that's what it comes down to, winning games. So between the players we're still positive, we know we can do better and play better, and we'll find a way to do it."

Gulutzan believes that over the course of a long season, things will change.

"The reality is, you don't score at the same rate all year," he said. "So can't get frustrated, gotta keep doing the right things, go to the net, shoot pucks and bodies at the net, recover pucks, you know, all those things just have to do consistently. And over 82 games it evens itself out if you're doing the right things."

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