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The importance of a potent power play

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- Over the past two days, the Calgary Flames have spent a good chunk of their practices working on special teams and for good reason.

The team knows its power play has be firing on all cylinders as soon as their first opportunity with the man advantage comes.

"It's so important," Alex Tanguay said. "We're going to try to get our power play going right away ... we have to."

It's no secret that teams who excel on the power play are generally very successful clubs. The top three teams in the highly competitive Western Conference during the regular season were in the League's top five ranking power plays.

Vancouver was absolutely dominant with the man advantage last year during the regular season, connecting 24.3 percent of the time. San Jose and Detroit weren't far behind them, going 23.5 percent and 22.3 percent respectively.

In close games, they could count on their power play to give them a much-needed offensive boost and would utilize their time with an extra man to their advantage.

During the first couple of months of the 2010-11 season, the Flames  power play looked lifeless. Players stood around rather than tracking down the puck, the opposition was easily able to get the play out of their zone thanks to the Flames lack of puck possession and their pass-to-the-point-and-shoot strategy didn't exactly require rocket science to figure out.

The Flames mid-season surge saw a revival of their morbid power play and by the end of the season, Calgary was the eighth best team in the entire League when it came to finding the back of the net with the man advantage.

A big reason for such a shift? Movement. Players were no longer stationary. They were moving through the zone, trying to find holes and creating chaos for their opponents. They didn't fall back on having the player stationed at the blueline being the only one willing to take a shot.

According to Tanguay, the team needs to pick up right where they left off in regards to their power play strategy.

"I think with the skill level we have, we feel that if we move and let the puck do the work, we're going to give ourselves chances to score. With the guys that we have on the power play, we feel that we have the skill level to make passes, be able to take the right shots at the right time."

The Flames also have capitalize on their chances as soon as the season starts. Tanguay pointed out there are generally more calls made in the opening month or two of the campaign compared to down the stretch and in the playoffs. Picking up points early on is absolutely crucial.

"We're expecting lots of power plays," Tanguay stated. "From the point that we turned things around last year, our power play was much better. It's certainly going to be important to get our power play rolling from the first game of the season."

Follow Torie Peterson on Twitter | @ToriePeterson

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