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CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames may be learning a very valuable lesson this season. Power play goals often times lead to wins in this 2011-12 campaign of the NHL. And one would need to look no further than the Flames month of December to understand this.

Posting an overall record of 8-4-4, the Flames capitalized on the man advantage in all but two of their eight wins. They lit the lamp on the power play twice in two of these wins as well - December 3 in a 5-3 comeback win against the Oilers in Edmonton, and again at home against the Colorado Avalanche in a 3-2 victory the following week.

In both of these games, the second power play marker was scored in the third period and ended up being the game winner too. Mikael Backlund converted a pass from Flames captain Jarome Iginla in Edmonton and Olli Jokinen buried another Iginla feed for the winner vs. the Avalanche.

Nobody knows the importance of a fine-tuned power play more than Iginla.

“We know that special teams can be the difference maker in close games. And when you’re playing in close games, you missed opportunities can easily lead to missed points in the standings.”

Head coach Brent Sutter echoes the captain’s emphasis on capitalizing on their chances – especially at home.

“You look at the teams that are successful in this league and they know how to score on the power play when they need to. If we want to me mentioned with these teams, we need to be better. We’ve identified this as something that we need to work on to be better and I’ve seen some progress. It's a combination of a lot of different things and when you put it all together and you have success with it, it builds confidence.”

And building confidence is exactly what this team is hoping comes from a more balanced and effective man advantage heading into 2012.

Last season the Flames were one of the NHL's hottest teams to start the New Year and the increased efficiency of their power play was one of the major reasons behind this. At the peak of their climb back into the Western Conference playoff picture in mid-March, the Flames had the fourth best power play in the NHL on home ice, connecting 23.9% of the time, and the 11th best overall with a success rate of 18.4%. That coming from a team that didn't score their first power play goal on home ice until November 5th, is a pretty remarkable accomplishment.

This season's Flames team can only hope that the New Year is as kind to them as it was to the 2010-11 club.

Check out previous editions of the Homes By Avi Powerplay Update