Flames Bury the Avalanche 

Flames Dominant From Open to Close in Rout 

March 7th, 2004

Every season has a game or two that defines a club's season.

In recent campaigns the Flames have had many a tough loss to point to when the dust cleared on yet another fruitless season of no playoff hockey.

When this season comes to a halt in just less than a month, the Flames could very well be fondly casting back to two huge victories in Denver in the last 20 odd games of the season as the reason their fortunes changed.

And boy did fortunes change in this one as the visiting Calgary Flames shocked the high browed Avalanche by a coach killing score of 7-1.

The NHL has plenty of great case examples of the old adage, money doesn't buy happiness. The Rangers and Capitals are in the midst of a huge fire sale, the St. Louis Blues currently out of the playoffs looking in.

But the Colorado Avalanche are somewhat a case in themselves after adding talented player after talented player over the summer, making many experts opine that they would run away with the circuit.

Thing is ... there is just one puck, and you have to control it at some point in the game to actually use that skill.

But enough about them, the Flames themselves were full credit for the win in this one, with the Chris Simon acquisition making immediate dividends in indirect ways.

The addition of Simon and Steve Reinprecht to the lineup the only way to discern line number one from line number four was the presence of #12 on one trio and Kzys Oliwa on the other. Essentially Sutter could roll four lines all night, a fact that will be especially true if Martin Gelinas can return to the lineup soon.

"With the way we played the other night in Dallas, it was night to come back with a game like this. Pretty much everyone scored", Craig Conroy told Sportsnet after the game.

"This was a huge game, we wanted to be .500 on this road trip after going down 1-2".

The game began much like the start in Detroit on Tuesday with the Flames carrying the lion's share of the play but failing to put one in.

Incredibly the Flames trailed 1-0 in this one when a silly Oliwa penalty turned into a Milan Hejduk powerplay goal.

Oliwa wasn't finished for the night either as he scored a pretty marker to make the game 5-1 Calgary, then proceeded to taunt the Avalanche bench.

A few minutes later, Denver tough guy Peter Worrell jumped Oliwa and had the book thrown at him.

The Flames were even after 20 minutes, but led 4-1 after 40 minutes and cruised their way home.

With the game well out of hand and Worrell sitting for five minutes the Flames clearly were directed to hold up and not embarrass the Denver juggernaught.

Pretty much every player involved took Sutter's queue, save for Oleg Saprykin who continued to drive to the net himself, scoring two late goals.

The Flames return home after this one ecstatic to use a big win in Denver to level yet another monster road trip and keep themselves firmly entrenched in the playoff picture. The win this afternoon bounces the Flames past the Predators and back into 6th place, but they fail to gain any ground on the 5th place Stars who were taking it to the Sharks at press time.

For the Avalanche you have to wonder about changes coming up before the trade deadline. Another blow out on home ice could result in a coach firing - Tony Granato made the faux pas of not having a player in the box to serve Worrells' five minute major resulting in a seven minute run on man advantage.

Could these teams hook up in the playoffs? It would be interesting.

Games like this afternoon's make even the most pessimistic onlooker look optimistically ahead.





1) Craig Conroy - Former captain had a great game scoring once and assisting on two others.

2) Oleg Saprykin - His goals were very unimportant when it comes to the final score, but both came on heads up goal scorer's plays.

3) Chris Clark - Pluggy winger scored the game winner early in the second period, added an assist and dropped the gloves for good measure.

Philip Sauve made some great saves to start the first and second period, but you can't give a guy that allowed seven the save of the game. So we'll go to the key save Miikka Kiprusoff made on a Joe Sakic tip with a handful of seconds left in the second frame to keep the Flames up three heading the third.

Toni Lydman makes a rare appearance in this category with a great bone crusher on Darby Hendrickson in the second period.

Bar none ... the evolution of youth and the addition of skillful hockey player has the current line up plus Martin Gelinas as the best starting 20 we've seen in Calgary since about 1994. ... The Flames had a bunch of ex-Avs the last time they played in Denver including Stephane Yelle, Dean McAmmond, Shean Donovan and Steve Reinprecht. Interesting to see the addition of two others; Ville Nieminen and Chris Simon since their last visit. ... The Flames and Avalanche now have the same number of wins, 34. ... Steve Reinprecht may be handicapped in that he can't shoot, but the man is a headsy hockey player and made a difference with his passing game today. ... If Colorado does deal Derek Morris before Tuesday it will be interesting to sit down and take another hard look at that Chris Drury trade, with only Stephane Yelle still with the same club. ... Chris Simon may not the most fleet of foot hockey player on the club, but it was so nice to see a guy go to the front of the net and stay there on the Calgary powerplay. ... Speaking of special teams, the Flames finally one the battle of the odd man scoring twice on the powerplay and adding a key Iginla shorthanded goal to pace the team. ... The Flames added two double digit goal scorers to their ledger this afternoon with Chris Clark and Oleg Saprykin both getting past the nine mark. Saprykin's tenth goal was a new career best for the winger, he added his 11th with one second left on the clock. Clark now has 10 in three straight seasons, but has never found that 11th. ... The seven goals is the most the Flames have scored this season, and the first time they've scored more than six since March 1st, 2000 when they put eight past the Penguins. ... I'm not about to suggest that Chris Simon is a better hockey player than Peter Nedved, but who would you rather have in the lineup on Tuesday night when the Oilers come to town? ... Me too.

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