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Flames Fall Flat in Game Seven
Sharks 5 - Flames 3

Daniel Lemmon
April 22nd, 2008

The Calgary Flames had their backs up against the wall on Sunday night facing elimination for the first time in the series and they came out and made the San Jose Sharks look like a shell of their former selves. So heading into game 7 the pressure was squarely on the Sharks, the momentum was in Calgary's court and something had to give.

There was no way the Sharks would come out and play as timid a game as they did in Calgary in game 6, but the question lingering in the back of many a Flames fan's mind was to wonder which Flames team was going to come to play. How would they react to the momentum swing? Who was going to step up and make a name for themselves and would it be a Flame or a Shark who did so?

Bitter defeat and a summer of asking how it came to this is all that awaits the loser, but these are the reasons why we're fans.

On The Line
It's game seven. If you have to ask yourself what is on the line then you need to find something else as your passion. These are the games that you dream about being the hero playing street hockey. These are the games where we think back and remember the performance of one player or another and see greatness. This my friends is what it's all about.

The Flow
As could be expected, the puck dropped and the Flames were dealing with a Sharks team that was not ready to walk off into the sunset just yet. The Sharks came out skating, hitting and shooting, but Calgary was weathering the storm and it wasn't until a horrible penalty by Anders Eriksson midway through the first that gave the Sharks the first chance to draw blood. Invisible Joe Thornton slipping behind David Hale and to the open side of the net fired a puck just past the outstretched glove of Miikka Kiprusoff and the Sharks lead 1-0. But a few moments later the Flames got a power play chance of their own and a heads up play by Adrian Aucoin and Jarome Iginla and the Flames had things deadlocked at 1-1 and kept it that way after the first. Perhaps lucky to be where they were, the Flames responded well to being in a hostile building that was nothing short of intimidating.

The second started and the Flames came out strong and three and a half minutes in and Owen Nolan has a breakaway thanks to some hard work by Kristian Huselius and knocks his own rebound past Evgeni Nabokov to give the Flames their first lead of the game. But once again, just a few moments later Jeremy Roenick throws a puck on net and starts the collapse of the Calgary Flames. In a shot that should never get past a goaltender like Miikka Kiprusoff the Sharks tie things up at two and the Flames are already defeated. It was just a matter of circumstances that would lead to the rest of the destruction. Roenick would score one more on the power play followed quickly after that by a goal from Joe Pavelski and that's it for Miikka Kiprusoff. Curtis Joseph couldn't even stop the onslaught as Devin Setoguchi scored his first of the playoffs and the Sharks posted four unanswered goals on 21 shots in just eight and a half minutes. Game over.

Calgary would try to make it interesting by scoring a goal midway through the third period but that was all she wrote on this Flames team, and not even an inspired Jarome Iginla could battle through the trap the Sharks threw up for the remainder of the game.

And so here we are with a broken feeling in our hearts dreaming of what could have been and lamenting the games that got away.

Three Stars

1 - Jeremy Roenick: Roenick was mad after being scratched in game 6 and was intent on proving that he could be a difference maker. Well four points, and two goals prove you right Mr. Roenick.
2 - Joe Thornton: Thornton was nowhere to be seen throughout most of this series, but when you saw big number 19 standing at the side of the net to put away the first goal of the game something in your heart had to sink. Thornton finally showed up.
3 - Owen Nolan: Nolan battled. He wanted to be a difference maker of his own, but couldn't come up with enough tonight.

Big Save

Surprisingly when considering the two goaltenders who started tonight's game it doesn't seem likely that you would have a hard time picking out a save that was a big one, but nothing was a difference maker. The closest thing to one was a Miikka Kiprusoff poke check that went awry and came back to him which he deftly swatted away with his stick near the end of the first.

Big Hit
There was plenty of hitting, but nothing momentum changing. The only thing that came close was David Hale running into a Sharks player on the half boards to keep the puck in for Eric Nystrom and David Moss who eventually created the Flames third goal.

The Goat
Tough call.. There are a lot of ways to go here and with my anger and frustration starting to subside I can look no further than Miikka Kiprusoff simply failing to come up big for his team tonight and allowing that second Sharks goal that should NEVER happen. That took all energy from his team, it set them up for defeat right then and there. Kiprusoff just wasn't a difference maker in this series and even throughout this season. Maybe it's time for some off-season training.

Mr. Clutch
The man who had something to prove to himself, his teammates, his coach and his teams fans had the opportunity to ruin himself in San Jose if he made the type of comments you expect from him. Jeremy Roenick instead said all the right things, said that he was going to make a difference to this San Jose Sharks team and he proved that in spades. Good on you JR.

Odds and Ends
It ended up being pretty clear that the Flames, and more specifically Miikka Kiprusoff, were not prepared to win tonight. I'm sure many are looking to lay the blame, but tonight is not the night to do that. All I know is that for Calgary to win this series they were going to need Miikka Kiprusoff to be better than Evgeni Nabokov and that simply did not happen at any point in this series really. Perhaps you will look at the shot totals and think differently, but the fact of the matter is that Kiprusoff wasn't good enough. Granted he had a team in front of him who just couldn't be counted on to bring their A-game every single night, but it's frustrating none the less. The expectation of a player like Kiprusoff is higher than what he delivered.

Flames fans, and players couldn't expect the San Jose Sharks to come out every game letting the Flames intimidate them. We couldn't expect to see the Sharks just lie down and let the Flames walk over them into the second round. Yes the Flames were embarrassed in the second period, but the Sharks were just downright fantastic to make the Flames look that way.

Speaking of expectations, one needs to take this game, this series, this season in context with expectations. Every single fan is going to have their own expectations of this team, and that's going to be different from fan to fan, and to management and ownership. Looking at it in the right here and right now is this season a failure? Sure it is, the goal is always win the Stanley Cup. But looking at it closer did you expect Calgary to win the Stanley Cup this season? Did you expect them to win every game this season? There are so many angles to look at this from and while the bitter taste of defeat is the only thing that we can feel right now, the way the Flames played in this series can at least make you happier than last season.

Next up
A stop at the driving range before the first tee time of the long off season..

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

Phaneuf - Eriksson
Aucoin - Hale
Sarich - Regehr



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