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Pumping up the power play

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- Heading into their battle with the Vancouver Canucks, the Calgary Flames have a lot to feel good about.

They're riding on a two-game win streak, have reached with .500 during their six-game homestand and drastically improved their over game after their rocky start to the 2011-12 season.

Their power play, however, isn't something they are particularly pleased with.

They've only connected five times on 31 chances this season, placing them 16th in the League when it comes to the man advantage.

"We've been struggling. There's no denying it," Alex Tanguay said after practice on Monday. "We're definitely going to work hard to get it and we've been working extremely hard with different combinations, with different plays out there. It's going to come."

A big issue has been movement - or a lack thereof. Once set up, the Flames have seemed to pick a spot to park themselves and haven't moved around a lot. This give the penalty killers a huge window of opportunity to knock the puck out of harm's way.

Tanguay noted this was a concern and made it clear the team knows what they need to do to rectify the situation.

"If we outwork the penalty killers, we're going to give ourselves a pretty good chance at scoring."

In addition to picking up the pace through the offensive zone, the club has had issues breaking into the zone. Trying to get over the blueline has looked like a struggle for the Flames, especially with aggressive penalty killing units.

They have tried the dump-and-chase tactic as well but the power plays haven't always been on the same page in that regard. One player will race to the boards, scoop up the puck and pass it back to ... no one.

"We've got to get used to each other," Rene Bourque said. "Especially when you're on the boards and you're facing the glass, you've got to know where you're going to throw the puck and have trust that your teammates are going to be there."

On Monday, the team spent a bulk of their practicing working on special teams. Bourque said that working away at improving the power play is incredibly important if they want to build up some momentum with the man advantage.

"I think we're making progress. Today in practice we were pretty good. It's a big part of our game. It should be able to win us a handful of games each year."

Before the Flames turnaround last year, their power play was dire straits and according to Tanguay, the team has to draw upon what they learned during last year's slow start.

"Honestly, it was terrible before Christmas," he said. "So I think that we all know we have the ingredients to do it. We've just got to work a little bit harder and be patient. Make sure that we don't force things. The shots are going to come and the chances are going to come. We just have to wait for it to happen."

Follow Torie Peterson on Twitter | @ToriePeterson

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