Contrary to popular belief, the Flames are not down 2-0 in this series. In fact, a win tonight (CBC/ESPN, 7:00 p.m. MT) would put them back in the driver's seat only a home victory away from a 3-1 stranglehold on the series. But that's easier said than done, considering that the Wings have essentially suffocated the Flames' offensive attack in this series so far letting few shots reach goaltender Curtis Joseph.
The most important thing to note is that for the first time since Doug Gilmour scored an overtime winner on April 14, 1989 to lead the Flames to a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings, the second round of the playoffs will be returning to the Saddledome.
The fans are going to be charged up and the players are going to be charged up. It should be a great experience and, yes, the Flames do in fact have an opportunity to take a 2-1 series lead tonight.
FLAMES KEYS TO SUCCESS:
One problem the Flames had in their first two games is a lack of shots on Detroit netminder Curtis Joseph.
It's rare that the Flames captain is blanked for three straight games. If he comes up empty tonight it might be the beginning of the end. However, it's more likely that he steps up and dominates like he did in game seven against Vancouver.
Home ice advantage:
It will be quite an experience for the Red Wings, playing in front of 19,289 screaming fans clad in red tonight. On top of that, the Flames have last line change which will enable Sutter to use Montador and Commodore more effectively.
RED WINGS FLASHBACK 1...
Does anyone remember the series between the Detroit Red Wings and the San Jose Sharks that occurred ten years ago almost to the day? It was the Sharks' first-ever playoff series and they came in as heavy underdogs with 18 less points than Detroit.
The Sharks pulled off an upset at Detroit in game one, winning 5-4 before the Red Wings bounced back to take game two convincingly by a score of 4-0. Detroit actually won game three at San Jose 3-2 before losing games four and five 4-3 and 6-4 respectively. With their backs against the wall, the Wings destroyed the Sharks 7-1 in game six before a Chris Osgood gaffe late in the third period led to the Sharks pulling off a 3-2 win in game seven.
RED WINGS FLASHBACK 2...
Tonight won't be the first time that the Red Wings have had to deal with a raucous crowd. Tonight probably won't even be the loudest crowd in front of which the Red Wings have ever played. That honour goes to the Winnipeg Jets fans in the Winnipeg Arena in the 1996 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Jets finished the season with 36 wins and 78 points while the Red Wings had 62 wins and a monstrous 131 points. Despite the 53-point gap and a 2-0 series lead, the Red Wings had difficulty playing in front of the Winnipeg Arena White Out, dropping a 4-1 decision in game three. Detroit would go on to win the series in six games.
Calgary: Dean McAmmond (back) and Steve Reinprecht (shoulder) are both out for the rest of the season. Dave Lowry (abdomen) and Denis Gauthier (leg) are out. Toni Lydman (upper body) and Chris Simon (leg) are game-time decisions. Rhett Warrener (eye) will play.
Detroit: Dominik Hasek (groin) has been out since December. Other injuries include Niklas Kronwall (leg) and Mark Mowers (foot) all out for this series. Jason Woolley (back) is likely available to return if Dave Lewis chooses to dress him.
The Flames have not had the lead for single minute in this series, with their only win coming in overtime in game one The Flames lead the playoffs in total goals scored with 23. They also lead in total goals against with 22. In its five wins so far in the playoffs, the Flames have only allowed five goals total while in its four losses they have allowed 17 goals The Flames remain unbeaten in these playoffs when Iginla scores (4-0) Calgary's penalty killing is dismal on the road in these playoffs at 73.5% (25-for-34) but at home it's a solid 88.2% (15-for-17) By contrast, the team's power play is much better on the road at 16.1% (5-for-31). At home, the Flames only have one power play goal in 17 opportunities (5.8%) Detroit's penalty kill is the best in the playoffs at 97.3%. On the road, their PK is a perfect 15-for-15 the Flames have not lost two straight in these playoffs yet. The last time they dropped two in a row was March 20 and 22 at home to Nashville and Dallas.
"I'm not making a big deal out of either one of those games, to be quite honest. It really has no relevance on Game 3. Do you expect the team that finished first overall to not be great in one game, especially in their building?" Flames head coach and GM Darryl Sutter on how the Flames can bounce back from a devastating game two loss.
"He does it four or five times a year. And he does it for two reasons -- when he's hit dirty or someone on his team is. I think that's a great quality that he's got. Is Brendan Shanahan going to do that once or twice a year? That's those guys' identities. It's huge. That's part of his persona and it's a great attribute. He doesn't go looking for it. He didn't start that. Everyone makes a big deal out of every time he fights. The two he's had in the playoffs, one was an uncalled penalty, the other one . . . uh, he didn't start that last fight, believe me." Sutter on Iginla's fight with Derian Hatcher last game.
"I think the smile bothers them. He always runs guys, he's coming in and finishing his checks, and then the big smile when he's in there doesn't help." Craig Conroy on Ville Nieminen.