When the Brier came into town forcing the Flames on the road for seven, each game could be broken down into a certain expectation:
Ottawa – Win
Philadelphia – Toss Up
Carolina – Win
Atlanta – Win
New Jersey – Loss
Detroit – LOSS
Toronto – Are you kidding me?
But along the way, things started to go South. With three straight losses in Carolina, Atlanta and New Jersey, the first two being embarrassing losses, the road trip was on a heading for complete disaster heading into the Joe Louis Arena where the Flames have done nothing but flounder in recent memory.
And as the game wore on, it looked like it was just another loss to the Red Wings. Or so you thought…
On The Line
For Calgary, this was a huge contest. Facing the expectation of their fourth straight loss, the road trip would have been considered utter failure at this point with the loss to the Red Wings, the bandwagon would have looked like this, and cries of disgust would have followed the team into Toronto.
Upon the onset of the game the Flames were fortunate enough to get an early first period power-play that put them up by one on the defending Stanley Cup Champions as Olli Jokinen snuck the puck between Ty Conklin’s pad and the near post. But shortly after that, things started to unravel for Calgary. Henrik Zetterberg tied things up on the Wings first power-play of the game getting a second chance after Pavel Datsyuk rang a shot off the cross-bar. Then Dion Phaneuf was served with a five minute major for boarding after he nudged Daniel Cleary going for the puck in the corner, Cleary lost and edge and crashed into the boards appearing to hurt his ankle. Dubious call at best for two minutes, but five was outrageous. Then it got ugly. Jordan Leopold flipped the puck over the glass and was served a delay of game, just over a minute later, Cory Sarich was gated for cross checking, followed by Adrian Aucoin for roughing AND Jim Vandermeer a double minor for roughing, and a 10 minute misconduct for giving Johan Franzen a little what-for for being a cheap….ugh….I’m going to stop there, because I’m getting all ragey. Suffice it to say Franzen deserved to get decked, and it seems to me Vandermeer payed the price for the Golden Wings getting messed with. So with only Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr left on the back end to defend five on three’s SOMEHOW beyond all reason not named Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary was down to just 1 man down (4:55 of two man advantage killed) before Mikeal Samuelsson roofed a puck over Kiprusoff’s shoulder and the Wings took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
The second was no better for Calgary. Out-shot in the first 28-4, the road woes continued as the Wings would go up 3-1 on yet another power play chance with Dion Phaneuf off for tapping his stick on a Wings players skate (he’s Chuck Norris strong with one hand on the stick) and the teams already 4 on 4, as Nik Lidstrom blasted his 13th of the year from the top of the circle. Following that play, Calgary actually had a bit of momentum with a good shift from Jokinen and Iginla but Iginla would get knocked down, Jokinen was double team interfered with to prevent him from picking up a loose puck in the corner, and with the Flames bench audibly outraged Filppula would go down the other way and put the Wings up by 3. Incensed by the seeming imbalance of penalty calls the Flames charged back down the ice and scored just 33 seconds later as Daymond Langkow tipped a shot thrown at the net by Adrian Aucoin. Interestingly enough, the Flames were evenly matched in the shot department when not down by two men for nearly 5 minutes.
The end of the second period, the way the game had been progressing for the Flames, and the fury that sparked the glowing embers of the Calgary Flames began to burn. Slowly at first, it quickly engulfed Joe Louis Arena. The Flames DOMINATED the Red Wings in the third period. Not allowing a shot on goal until the final stages of the period and throwing 17 of their own at Ty Conklin. It seemed that Conklin had an answer for everything the Flames could send his way. But the fire raged on, the heat forcing the Red Wings to cower in the corners of their own zone, until even the corners could offer no more protection. With 3:22 remaining in the period, Jamie Lundmark picked up a Jim Vandermeer re-bound and fired the puck into the yawning cage; the Flames licked closer and closer; less than a minute later Curtis Glencross held the puck just a moment longer and then fired the puck at the net, squeeking past Conklin (credit to Jokinen), the heat now more like the surface of the sun; finally Jamie Lundmark circled behind the net and tricked Conklin into thinking he was going near side, but instead roofed the puck into the far top corner, the gasoline soaked dredges of the motor city exploded. An Erie calm struck as it looked like there was a chance to contain the inferno when Dan Cleary poked the puck into the net with just 40 seconds remaining in the game, but the Flames could not be denied. The fires raged, longer than expected, but in the shootout….Detroit was left a mere heap of smouldering ashes.
Datsyuk: Kiprusoff attempts the poke check, but Datsyuk anticipates, drags the puck back and gets it up and over the sprawled out Kiprusoff.
Cammalleri: Fakes the shot twice freezing Conklin out of his crease, then goes back hand to tie it up.
Zetterberg: Makes a couple of moves, Kiprusoff attempts to poke check, Zetterberg runs out of room, and Kiprusoff’s outstreched pad keeps the puck out.
Iginla: Goes wide and just shoots, off the post.
Hudler: Hudler goes backhand but Kiprusoff has the answer
Jokinen: Jokinen comes in with speed, doesn’t even bother to fake, goes high glove side for the win.
1. Miikka Kiprusoff: The man, the myth, the legend – Kiprusoff was the reason the Flames weren’t down 6-1 in the first period. Simply outstanding.
2. Jamie Lundmark: Making a name for himself since being called up from Quad Cities, he got the fires burning bright, and lit off the fireworks at the end of the game. Flames fans all over the place experienced this when he took the lead.
3. Nik Lidstrom: A goal and two assists for the ever steady Red Wings rear-guard.
Pick any of the 26 saves in the first period.. hell, pick any of Kiprusoff’s 40 saves on the night. Picking one out of the many seems pointless.
Big hit, and for the wrong reasons, was certianly Dion Phaneuf’s boarding nudge on Dan Cleary. Unfortunate incident for Cleary, but there is no way that should be five minutes.
The Flames defence likely got a message that they needed to clear the trash out of Miikka Kiprusoff’s crease, but they took things too far tonight. Aucoin and Vandermeer, bad!
Mr. Miikka Kiprusoff. I’m not really sure if I can comprehend any more ways to explain the mans greatness.
Odds and Ends
This game was an emotional roller-coaster. From mild surprise at getting an early goal, to return to expected reality as the Red Wings tied things up, followed by complete outrage at the penalty parade, proceeded by elation at killing off 4:55 of five on three, to utter collapse and fury when the Red Wings finally scored on the power-play. Anger just sort of festered during the second period with the goals the Red Wings scored, the appearance of a double standard between the Red Wings and the Flames. Then the third, where hope sprung eternal, and complete and utter bliss at tying things up, then inexplicably taking the lead, and the who cares when Detroit tied it up in the end; because, we knew the Flames would take it in the end.
The effort displayed by the Flames in the third period was simply stunning. Even with all the words that have been spewed onto this page, I still have the feeling of being speechless. There are some who will claim that the Red Wings sat back and let the Flames get back into the game, but as much as that was the appearance, it was derived from the unadulterated rage that was the Calgary Flames desire to win this game.
The Flames head to the center of the toilet on Saturday taking on the Maple Leafs on CBC. Game time is 5 PM MT.
Lines (To Start):
Cammalleri – Jokinen – Iginla
Glencross – Conroy – Moss
Boyd – Langkow – Lundmark
Roy – Peters – Nystrom
Phaneuf – Leopold
Regehr – Aucoin
Sarich – Vandermeer