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Calgary Flames in need of a spark as they take to the road

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

But scoring four goals in three games is not what you'd call a blistering start for a team that wanted to be more offensively creative this season.

Equally unimpressive is the team that was the best on defence in the NHL last season has given up eight goals and four of them on the penalty kill.

Head coach Jim Playfair isn't willing to take a few games to iron out the wrinkles.

"It's absolutely a sense of urgency for us," he said Wednesday before the Flames left for the airport. "We're well aware of where we are and we know that it's just about competing harder and getting our players to understand that we're a team that has to pressure the puck and take pucks to the net."

Calgary opens its road trip in Ottawa on Thursday against a 1-2-0 Senators squad with its own scoring issues.

While Ottawa's Bryan Murray has reunited Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson to kickstart its production, Playfair split up wingers Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay after the first two games, in which they mustered a goal between them.

Kristian Huselius joined Daymond Langkow and Iginla on the first line, while Tanguay and Chuck Kobasew are Matthew Lombardi's wingers.

"Kristian Huselius and Daymond Langkow played very well together last year," Playfair said. "That's a real good duo and I think Jarome can benefit from that right now.

"Hopefully Alex and Matthew and Chuck Kobasew can find a work ethic that suits their style and we build up from there."

But line juggling is not the answer without effort from the players, he said.

"I think right now we're moving players around hoping something clicks and the whole focal point has to be getting really clear on our work ethic and getting consistent work from everybody and then you can see where players complement each other."

Calgary is in Toronto on Saturday, heads to Montreal for a game Tuesday and completes the swing against Boston on Oct. 19.

The Flames spent the end of practice Wednesday working on their power play for good reason.

Calgary was scoreless on 24 chances before Tanguay scored his first as a Flame and the team's first this season with a man advantage late in Monday's 4-1 loss to San Jose.

"That has been the biggest letdown in our first three games, our power-play," Iginla said. "We could be in every game if we have those goals.

"We hopefully broke the lid off of it at the end of last game to carry over."

Calgary was picked as a contender to take the Western Conference this season. The Flames' faithful have high expectations of their team and booed it soundly in the third period of Monday's loss at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

"It's not a great feeling, but it's part of sports," Iginla said. "We have passionate fans and if they're booing it means things aren't going good."

Defenceman Rhett Warrener joined the Flames for the trip, but does not know if the knee injury he suffered in the pre-season has healed enough to let him play in the next few games.


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