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Flames, Hartley still figuring each other out

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Calgary Flames admittedly have struggled trying to adjust to a new coach and system after an abbreviated training camp, bordering between moments of brilliance and monumental breakdowns while losing their first two games.

So switching up all four lines for the third game, against Vancouver on Wednesday, may seem somewhat counterintuitive.

For new coach Bob Hartley, however, it's all about a learning curve that goes both ways -- players learning where to go and what to do in his system, while he also learns what to expect from them.

"I met them many times, I have talked to them over the phone and I watched many game tapes, but right now we are in game situations and just trying to find the best fit for all of them," Hartley said. "Just a matter of trying to get the best possible lines to generate good offense and at the same time be reliable in the three zones."

For Mike Cammalleri, at least, the changes are welcomed because they moved him back to a more familiar spot on the left wing.

"It was a little bit unfamiliar for me," Cammalleri said of playing the first two games on the right side. "It [left wing] should feel more comfortable."

The comfort level with the new system could take more time.

"It's been an adjustment, and it would have been nice for the first two to be exhibition games, for sure," Cammalleri said. "Having said that, we have strong belief in what we're doing and guys are working really hard to try and get it as quickly as possible and that switch will turn for us. To coach's credit, he is saying, 'Guys, we'll sit in the video room with you, I'll work with you after practice, but at the same time I don't want you thinking on the ice, I want you playing.' It's a fine line and it's on us as players to try and learn it as quickly as you can."

Looking over video of the first two games -- Calgary lost its opener 4-1 to San Jose on Sunday and fell behind 3-0 early in a 5-4 loss to Anaheim the next night -- captain Jarome Iginla said there were lots of positives. Now they just have to eliminate the mistakes.

"To put a different type of system in that is quite different than what we've played lately, and to look at it and see some periods where it feels like OK, that's what we want to do," Iginla, who will play opposite Cammalleri on a line centered by Mikael Backlund, said. "We haven't been as consistent with it, but we feel that will come and we can draw on the positives."

Here is what the Flames' roster should look like in Vancouver:

Curtis Glencross - Alex Tanguay - Lee Stempniak

Mike Cammalleri - Mikael Backlund - Jarome Iginla

Sven Baertschi - Matt Stajan - Blake Comeau

Steve Begin - Blair Jones - Tim Jackman

Mark Giordano - Jay Bouwmeester

TJ Brodie - Dennis Wideman

Chris Butler - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff

Leland Irving

Injured: Anton Babchuk, Roman Cervenka

Scratched: Roman Horak, Derek Smith

Bereavement: Jiri Hudler

Cervenka and Hudler are expected back on the weekend.

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