-- advertisement --

Flames Refuse To Go Quietly Into the Night

Flames 2 Sharks 0

D'Arcy McGrath
April 20th, 2008

With Mother Nature on your side, how can you lose?

The Calgary Flames returned to their Canadian local after a great effort in game five, despite the 4-3 setback on the score board with their backs planted firmly on the wall. However, with seven inches of snow in the offing, the climate was unwilling to let the hockey season go and the Flames were only too happy to oblige in a complete game 2-0 victory over the heavily favoured San Jose Sharks.

The setting now switches to the no snow NoCal city of San Jose with the Flames just 60 minutes from an improbably upset that very well could harken back to 2004.

So enough Mother Nature, we get your support, but lets get back to playoffs in flip flops, the way the Hockey Gods intended.

On The Line
This section is fun. All season long we've had to talk about how huge each and every game was to the Cowtown Crew. Tooth and Nail each and every contest, the Flames had to battle every inch of th the way for seeding in the West and in the end a playoff spot itself. Tonight, however, was the MUST WIN of the season as the Flames faced elimination for the first time in a series that has been as entertaining and hotly contested as any could be. The Flames win and they force a game seven in San Jose with the pressure switched firmly back into the teal corner, given the fact the Flames weren't picked by  many to advance, let alone take it the limit. Lose and they still go home with the feeling that they finally manged the most consistent set of periods of their entire season when it mattered the most. Now go do it.

The Flow
A great start for the Flames, a little short on the expected body contact, but the Flames carried the play and had a six one shot advantage in the contest's first five minutes. The Flames didn't find the net until the midway point of the period when the former Shark's captain, Owen Nolan found his second goal in the series when he pounced on a live puck created by Kristian Huselius.

The second was more of the same ... a bit of a flat start, but then a solid 20 for the Flames, doubling their lead in the last minute when Jarome Iginla took a hit, squirting the puck up the boards to Daymond Langkow who found the short side on Nabokov. The Flames allowed only 14 shots through 40 while generating 19 themselves. Kiprusoff was solid, but wasn't tested with any sever chances.

The Flames looked to sit on the lead a tad in the third but did a good job in keeping the Sharks to the perimeter and limiting the blue chip chances against, and sending the series to California for a gut wrenching Tuesday Night. Love it.

Three Stars

1 - Owen Nolan: Not a dominating performance by any means, but his 2nd game winner of the series, and an ice breaker in the first period of a game that the Flames simply needed. There are goals that look like can't miss, and then there are goals that are given to those that go to the right spot on the ice; that was Nolan's game winner.
2 - Miikka Kiprusoff: Only 21 shots against, and not a high count of difficult saves, but a playoff shut out is a playoff shut out.
3 - David Hale: Ok, clearly, Robyn Regehr and his ability to lean on Joe Thornton is a story in itself in this series and certainly in this game, but David Hale was a standout in his limited turns on the ice including a shift in the second that may be his best of his Calgary career.

Big Save

Lots of good saves in this one, but the save of the game in my eye was the non shot from Milan Michalek in the second. Anders Eriksson got caught at the San Jose blueline sending the Sharks in on a three on one with the score 1-0 Calgary. Dion Phaneuf took away the pass leaving Miikka Kiprusoff to stare down the talented Czech staring at a board with no holes. Much of hockey these days is forcing your opposition to commit to an action or position, and Kiprusoff was as cool as a cucumber in this one.

Big Hit
Robyn Regehr caught Joe Thornton admiring a dump in during the first period, sending the big center down on an open ice hit that added to the Flames good start; and in the end series tying victory.

The Goat
The Sharks on the whole. Pick a key Shark player that didn't find his best game left in the departure level of the Calgary International Airport. Joe Thornton was invisible (as he has been much of the series), Brian Campbell was invisible (as he has been much of the series), but other guys that have been carrying the mail like Marleau, Cheechoo and Nabokov both struggled. Ladies and gentlemen, the Sharks are the 1995 Calgary Flames! Perhaps it's Calgary's turn to win in double overtime in game seven.

Mr. Clutch
Kristian Huselius. We've been waiting for six weeks for a push back from #20, for a sign of life, for a showing of pride. The Flames finally found that missing link again tonight as the befuddled Swede put in a gritty two way effort including a bodycheck!, and a key play to set up Owen Nolan for the game winner.

Odds and Ends
Very interesting to see Canada's last two teams both heading to gave sevens on successive night, yet both in very different angles. The Flames, the underdogs, have already won in a sense, turning a frustrating up and down season into a great playoff push that has a city proud. While in Montreal, the Habs have let the Bruins off the mat and are at risk of turning a great season into a massive disappointment. ... Good luck putting a bet on game seven in this series. Media, fans, and I'm guessing the teams have had a terrible time choosing the difference in each and every game. Is the victor playing well or the loser playing poorly? A combination of both? The Sharks broke the back and forth ebb to the series in winning four and five, the Flames are looking to answer by winning six and seven. Should be a gooder. ... The Flames out hit the Sharks 32-14 by official stats, something the bitter Shark's coach called into question in his press conference. Yeah that's the issue Ron. ... The Flames out shot the Sharks for the second straight game, this time by a 25-21 margin, and were about as consistent in their own zone as they've been all year. ... Thank you Mike Keenan for sitting down Eric Godard and going with four lines that you can trust and actually like in a rolling four line scheme. The fourth line of Wayne Primeau, Eric Nystrom and David Moss was intense, physical and at times dangerous. The biggest thing, there wasn't a single player to have worry about defensively. The other wrinkle was seven dmen dressed with Jim Vandermeer patrolling the left side on the top line with Iginla and Langkow much of the night. ... Overall a good game from the officials with only five powerplays in the game; a three two split for the visitors. Some mistakes along the way, but overall they let the teams play which is all we can ask... Phaneuf and Eriksson led all skaters with a +2 on the night. ... Given the standout play by Eric Nystrom, it is hard to believe he only garnered eight minutes of ice time on the night. ... Phaneuf led all Flames with four shots on goal, only five skates failed to register a shot. Series standout, Ryan "Cry Baby" Clowe continued to impress with six of the 21 Sharks shots ... The Flames had possession all night starting from the dot where they nuked the Sharks with a 65% faceoff record.

Next up
Game seven for the Flames has always been a gut wrenching experience, but this season it seems like a gift wrapped up under the tree given the circumstances. See you Tuesday from San Jose, CBC, 8pm Calgary time.

Lines: (To start)
Vandermeer - Langkow - Iginla
Tanguay - Conroy - Nolan
Huselius - Lombardi- Yelle
Nystrom - Primeau - Yelle

Phaneuf - Eriksson
Hale - Aucoin
Sarich - Regehr



  Back to Calgarypuck.com
Read other Stories
Talk About it!