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Flames look to improve dismal power play ahead of series against Blackhawks

The Canadian Press
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Calgary Flames' captain Jarome Iginla skates during practice .THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh Author: The Hockey News

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Flames look to improve dismal power play ahead of series against Blackhawks

The Canadian Press
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CALGARY - The Calgary Flames hope to put some power back in their power play ahead of the playoffs.

The Flames suffered through a miserable 0-for-43 skid with the man advantage to end the regular season. They're now looking to erase that stretch of futility from their memory banks by turning around their fortunes during their first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"It's a fresh start for us and it's a whole new season," said forward Michael Cammalleri, who led Calgary with 39 goals this season including a team-high 19 power-play markers. "We'll spin it positive anyway we can."

Despite their scoring woes late in the campaign, Cammalleri has confidence that the Flames can turn things around in the post-season.

"As far as the power play, let's go lead the playoffs in power-play scoring as a team," said the 26-year-old forward, who will play his first-ever playoff game in Chicago on Thursday night. "How great would that be?"

Defenceman Dion Phaneuf said the Flames showed signs of improving their power play during a pair of high-tempo practices in at home on Monday and Tuesday.

"You just want to stay sharp," said Phaneuf, who counted four of his 11 regular-season goals during the power play. "You want to work on things and you want to get better."

Captain Jarome Iginla concurred with his teammates that the Flames have what it takes to capitalize on odd-man advantages against the Blackhawks. Calgary's power play operated at a 17 per cent clip to finish 21st in the league during the regular season, while Chicago's penalty-killing unit finished tied for 17th with an 80.6 per cent efficiency rating.

"We look forward to break out," Iginla said. "In the first game would be nice."

To do that, the Flames will have to solve Chicago netminder Nikolai Khabibulin, who has compiled a stellar 22-5-2 regular season record against the Flames, not to mention a 4-3 advantage in the playoffs when he led the Tampa Bay Lighting to a Stanley Cup victory over Calgary in 2004.

"This year, he's had a good run against us again, but we haven't played the way we could especially on the road," Iginla said of Khabibulin's 3-0 record this past season against the Flames.

"It's going to be a similar storyline. You have to shoot, get to the net, be very determined, get screens and that's really what we've got to do. We know that we're going to have to make it hard on him and put as many (shots) as we can get there."

Like Cammalleri, Olli Jokinen will take part in his first-ever playoff game on Thursday after an NHL-record stretch of 799 games without playing in a post-season contest.

The 30-year-old Finnish centre also has complete confidence that the Flames can produce on the power play against the Blackhawks.

"It's a new season," said Jokinen, who the Flames acquired at the NHL trade deadline from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Matthew Lombardi, Brandon Prust and a conditional first-round draft pick.

"We all start at the same position. Everybody's power play is at zero per cent right now. We've been working on it for the last couple days. We've been doing a pretty good job of it in practice. We're shooting the puck a lot more and are getting guys in front of the net. We've got to keep doing that in the games and good things will happen."

Fellow deadline-day acquisition Jordan Leopold said that the Flames have to go back to the basics to achieve success when an opposing player is sent to the penalty box.

"If we can get the puck to the net, that's a good play at all times," Leopold said. "You look for garbage goals, you look for anything. You never know what can happen."

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Flames look to improve dismal power play ahead of series against Blackhawks