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After powerplay benching, Flames' forwards must be better

TSN.ca Staff

12/2/2010 7:05:05 PM

Consider the message sent.

That was the sentiment at Flames practice Thursday following a 7-2 blowout loss Wednesday at home against the Canucks. Trailing 5-2 in the third period, and frustrated at his team's ineffective powerplay, head coach Brent Sutter gave the final 30 seconds of the man advantage to five defencemen.

"We weren't producing and I think it's affecting all of us. It's not like we're not trying. But we have to find ways to make it work," said centre Alex Tanguay. "I think Brent was sending us a message. You guys are making a big deal out of it. I don't think it is a big deal – Brent's just telling us to be better on the powerplay, that's about it. I don't look at it any other way."

Trailing 3-2 after two periods, Calgary was in position to tie the game to start the third, as they started the frame with a man advantage. But their comeback hopes were dashed quickly when Mason Raymond scored on a short-handed breakaway to give Vancouver a two-goal lead, the first of four they would score in the frame.

"We've got a good group in here that's played a lot of hockey games in this league and we've got to be mentally stronger," said Flames' centre Matt Stajan. "That was a bad break – we had a scoring chance and they came down and scored on a breakaway. We've got to come back and make another push and last night we didn't. There's no use making excuses. We rolled over, started taking penalties and we can't have that. We'll learn from it, makes sure it makes us stronger and never see that again."

A day after offering a drastic look to his powerplay, Sutter explained that he was trying to find some kind of momentum for a man advantage that has just two goals in their last 21 chances over a span of seven games.

"Powerplays and specialty teams are a big part of the game and our special teams have to be better. It's just something I did and I've done it in the past, and I'll do it again, too. We need to get the maximum out of everybody that's dressed that night. When your specialty teams aren't playing up to snuff you've got to shake it up a little bit," he said. "At the time I felt it's not working for us, let's throw five defencemen out there and see if they can get something going. However it wants to be taken it's taken. I'm not going to sit around and worry about that."

The coach said he hoped the move would get the regular suspects on their powerplay to want to make more of an impact on the game.

"If that's the way they take it, I hope (they feel that way). It's a good thing then. If they feel that way about it, then obviously it's a positive," Sutter said. "There needs to be awareness put in there that others can do it if given an opportunity. If you don't like, do something about it."

And while you're not going to score on every powerplay, Sutter said, it can't be something that affects the team in a negative way - a statement that all the players agreed with.

"Special teams were a big part of the game last night," said forward Rene Bourque. "(Vancouver) scored three powerplay goals, one short-handed goal and that's the difference in the game really. We've got to stop getting goals against, and take pride in giving up less goals and taking a stance. We can't quit on Kipper and we left him out to dry yesterday and that's not acceptable."

The Flames are in Minnesota to play the Wild Friday night.