Series Preview: Calgary & Detroit
Calgarypuck Playoff Coverage 2004

Marc Ciampa
April 22nd, 2004


After his performance in the first round, it should be obvious to everybody that the Calgary Flames have the best forward in this series. The Detroit Red Wings are going to have to devise a plan to contain Jarome Iginla or they could find themselves down early in this series. The Flames are much more than just Iginla, too, with key forwards such as Shean Donovan, Ville Nieminen, Stephane Yelle, Craig Conroy and others all playing big roles in the team's triumph over Vancouver. But from top to bottom, the Red Wings are simply one of the deepest teams in the league up front. Brett Hull, Pavel Datsyuk, Brendan Shanahan, Steve Yzerman and Ray Whitney are all dangerous.



With Denis Gauthier and Toni Lydman injured, Calgary's top six is sketchy on paper with Mike Commodore, Steve Montador and Andrew Ference among them. However, it should be noted that Commodor and Ference both stepped up admirably last round.

Detroit has a very dangerous top four of Mathieu Schneider, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios and Derian Hatcher. Those four log most of the minutes, with Dandenault and Fischer picking up the remaining 10-12 minutes.



There are still question marks on Curtis Joseph's ability to go deep into the playoffs but a look at the numbers shows that throughout his career, he's put up good postseason numbers. Even last season, when he was swept by Anaheim he had a 2.08 goals-against average and .917 save percentage through the four losses.

Miikka Kiprusoff is a Vezina Trophy finalist who came out of nowhere to lead the Flames to not only a playoff berth but also their first opening round victory in 15 years. He's going to be hard to beat for Detroit and makes everyone on the Flames that much better.



Calgary's power play finished at 15.1% (21st overall) during the regular season, essentially right where it is in the playoffs (15.0%). Detroit's penalty kill has been near flawless so far in this postseason with the PK clicking along at 96.6% despite going against a strong Nashville power play. The Red Wings haven't had much success on the power play (6.9%) but are always a threat to break out.



Darryl Sutter was one of the best coaches in the first round in terms of keeping the Flames on an even keel. He didn't let them get too high and made sure they didn't get too low. Sutter also shuffled lines regularly with some success.



With the early playoff jitters and a huge playoff curse out of the way, the Flames are now a loose bunch with nothing to lose. They are also a much hungrier team than the Red Wings—the majority of which have won a Cup ring previously.



The Flames are not as outmatched in this series as it might seem. Iginla and Kiprusoff can both dominate a game. However, injuries have thinned out the supporting cast while a number of others are playing hurt. The Red Wings are healthy and Joseph has had Calgary's number throughout his career. Every game will be close but in the end Detroit will prevail.


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