With the Flames prevailing in game four, what was once a best-of-seven series has now become a best-of-three and if the Flames hope to win the series they need to win one of two road games. One of those road games is tonight.
In what has been the most entertaining series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to date, one of these teams will be facing elimination by the end of the night. The way the series has been played so far, the result of one game has had little to do with the outcome of the other as both teams have shown some mental toughness.
Will the Canucks put game four behind them and come out with another strong rebound effort tonight? Will the Flames seize the opportunity to take their first lead of the series and put themselves in a position to win the series at home on Saturday? That's why they play the games, and if any of the matches so far in this series have screamed overtime it's this one.
FLAMES KEYS TO SUCCESS:
Since a five-goal outburst in game one, the Canucks have only managed three goals in three games against Miikka Kiprusoff. The Finnish netminder is very close to getting into the heads of the Canucks skaters. The longer Kiprusoff and the Flames can hold off Vancouver, the tighter the Canucks will be squeezing their sticks.
History in this series has shown that if the Flames get the early lead, they become a tough nut for the Canucks to crack.
Goals, goals goals:
In game one, two and four the Flames have scored two goals within a minute against Vancouver. The Canucks appear to have a letdown after allowing a goal and if the Flames can continue to use that to their advantage it would be a huge way to keep momentum on their side.
The return of Stephane Yelle was a huge boost to the Flames last game. Not only did he score a shorthanded goal and help the Calgary penalty killers shut down Vancouver's power play for the first time this series, he also does the little things like block key shots at the perimeter from reaching Kiprusoff.
EVERYBODY SHOULD KNOW...
Alex Auld could be the man in this series sooner rather than later. Dan Cloutier is out for the remainder of this round and Marc Crawford is by no means sold on Johan Hedberg. If Hedberg lets in a weak one early on, Crawford will not hesitate to get out the hook. So what kind of game does Auld play? He rarely ever handles the puck and plays a very solid positional game. In some ways he's an ideal NHL goaltender and better at that level than in the AHL, a more scrambly style of hockey. His biggest weakness is his ability to move laterally and his concentration level early in games causes him to allow weak ones in the early going.
Calgary: Stephane Yelle (hip) returned last game. Dean McAmmond (back) and Steve Reinprecht (shoulder) are both out for the rest of the season. Dave Lowry (abdomen) may return later on in the series. Toni Lydman (upper body) missed last game and will not play again tonight. Mike Commodore, who filled in admirably last game, will get the nod. Chris Simon (leg) is doubtful for tonight and questionable for Saturday.
Vancouver: Todd Bertuzzi (suspension) is out for the playoffs. Mats Lindgren (back) and Magnus Arvedson (knee) are done for the season. Dan Cloutier (ankle) is out. Bryan Allen returned to the lineup last game.
How big is tonight's game? In past best-of-seven series that have been tied 2-2, the team winning game five has won the series 78.9% (206-55) of the time. When the road team wins game five, they've won the series 82.6% of the time (123-26) The Flames are 7-5-1 with Mike Commodore in the lineup this season How much will the Flames miss Chris Simon? Calgary was 8-3-2 with Simon in the lineup in the regular season (9-5-2 overall) Tuesday's win broke a number of streaks. It was Calgary's first home playoff win since May 15, 1995 (vs San Jose), first playoff shutout since May 15, 1995 (Trevor Kidd, 5-0) and Calgary's first win at home against Vancouver since December 29, 2000 (ironically, also a 5-0 win) Flames are now 12-1-1-1 when Shean Donovan scores this year and 25-5-3-1 when Iginla scores.
"I think it goes without saying. A veteran centreman who's been through it and won and is a good faceoff guy, a good penalty-killer, all those things -- he gives you stability. (Yelle's absence) impacts you big time." Flames head coach/GM on how Yelle improves the team's lineup.
"I think it's just the time of year. You can't play that way for 82 games because you just wouldn't last. But in the playoffs you have to do it. It also sends a bit of a message. You can't be a guy that is always getting hit out there. You have to show that you are willing to battle.'' Canucks centre Brendan Morrison on his increased production this postseason.
There are always things you can do differently. You want to get all the goals back. I look at every goal in my head and look at what I could have done differently. I always try to look at the other goaltender and have a game within a game. Miikka had the win tonight and I'll do everything I can to get him back next time." Canucks goaltender Johan Hedberg on how he'll be much better in game five.