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Looking for a spark

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- If practice makes perfect, the Calgary Flames power play is going to be firing on all cylinders on Friday night.

The team has spent the bulk of Wednesday and Thursday's practices working on special teams in hopes of reviving their ailing power play. Heading into Friday's battle against the Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary's power play is in rough shape, especially at home.

They've connected on just two of their 40 power plays in the Scotiabank Saddledome, equating to a 5.0 percent success rate - the worst home record in the NHL. Overall, their power play ranks 24th in the League. And they have now gone 17 straight power plays without a tally.

"The bottom line is that the power play has to win you games in this League to get points," defenceman Mark Giordano said. "We haven't done a good enough job of it yet."

The lack of success isn't from a lack of effort. The team has been pressing hard whenever they have the man advantage but they seem to forcing plays too much. Instead of taking a shot through a crowd, they try to move the puck over to someone who has an open lane. However, by the time the puck hits their teammate's stick, the penalty killers have already shuffled over to take away the open space.

"Any time you're not scoring a lot of goals, the tendency is to maybe do too much," Giordano admitted. "I think our mindset has to be just shoot pucks, get to the net - we know we have the players in here to break through and put up some goals."

General manager Jay Feaster and assitant general manager John Weisbrod consulted with head coach Brent Sutter prior to Wednesday's practice and the trio decided to through six penalty killers out against their regular power play units.

"It forced us to move," Alex Tanguay said afterwards. "To me, it’s the biggest flaw we’ve had since the start of the year - we stand still. The opposition, they all know how we play power play and we all know how they defend.

"But if we get them moving, we’re going to get more opportunities, we’re going to get to rebounds. We’ve got to stick with it and, hopefully, it gets better for us."

Lee Stempniak, who has been shuffled over the left point on the power play during recent practices, knows the coaches can only direct them so much. The players have to follow through with the game plan in order for the team to be successful.

"Right now, the games are hanging in the balance because we’re not coming through," Stempniak said. "The onus is on us to be better."

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