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Flames look to cut down on shots against, as numbers show they did successfully last season


Their 3-1 start to the season is impressive.

However, one area of concern for Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan right now is the amount of shots they are allowing each outing.

Following the Flames 2-0 road swing through Southern California, that culminated with a 4-3 OT win against the Kings Wednesday night, Gulutzan said despite the team's record, they need to buckle down defensively.

"We're giving up way too much," said Gulutzan, referencing the third game in which the Flames have allowed more than 40 shots (and the third game in which Flames goaltender Mike Smith has had to make more than 40 saves).

Through the first four games of the season, the Flames have given up the most 5v5 shots in the NHL with 119. They're surrendering 39.48 shots per 60 minutes, according to the third most in the NHL, behind just the Vancouver Canucks and Vegas Golden Knights.

Their Corsi - shots on net, blocked shots, and missed shots - has suffered similarly. They've given up the most Corsi events against, with 207. Their CA/60 (Corsi against per 60) is also the highest in the NHL: 68.68.

"We have some work to do," explained Gulutzan. "It's going to be the same process we're going to have to go through (that we did last year). I think we're more confident at this time (than) last year, more comfortable, our goalie's winning us games, but our cleanup is going to go on the same timeline as last year. We've got to clean this up quick."

The 2016-17 Flames were in a similar scenario to start the campaign giving up too many shots but finished with a SA/60 (shots against) of 27.78 - the sixth lowest in the NHL. Their CA/60 was 52.64, also the sixth lowest in the league.

And let's not forget: the Flames also upgraded their defence for this season. Travis Hamonic is rounding out the top four, while Michael Stone is playing his first full season as a Flame.

The two have replaced Dennis Wideman and Deryk Engelland. Since the 2012-13 season - Wideman's first with the Flames - the new additions have been better at limiting chances against.

Over the past five seasons Wideman has a CA/60 of 61.36; Engelland, 59.5; Stone, 58.88; and Hamonic, 58.55. Stone and Hamonic simply don't allow as many Corsi events to go against them.

So with Gulutzan focused on addressing the amount of rubber his goaltender has seen so far, there's good reason to believe the Flames will reduce their shot and Corsi against volumes.

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