When this playoff season is done, game four just might end up being the most pivotal of this Calgary/Detroit series.
The Calgary Flames have an opportunity tonight on home ice (CBC/ESPN, 8:00 p.m. MT) to put some distance between themselves and the Red Wings. A 3-1 series lead with three cracks at winning the series, including one more on home ice, would be a tremendous situation for the Flames.
On the other hand, Detroit will come out with the same backs-against-the-wall determination that they did in game two. They know that they're one win away from tying the series at 2-2 with a chance to put a stranglehold on the Flames in game five at Joe Louis Arena where they've been practically unbeatable all season long.
FLAMES KEYS TO SUCCESS:
Whereas in the first two games the Flames looked somewhat intimidated by Detroit at times, in game three they started to play more of that aggressive forechecking style that resulted in success against Vancouver. When the game is played at their tempo, they win.
One key in these playoffs for Calgary has been the ability to swing momentum quickly with a fast goal. On the heels of Detroit tying the last game at 2-2, Shean Donovan scored what turned out to be the game winner to put the Flames up once again.
When he scores, the Flames win.
Martin Gelinas has four points (1 goal, 3 assists) in three games in this series. He had only three points in seven games against Vancouver… Marcus Nilson only had one assist in seven games against the Canucks but already has three points (1 goal, 2 assists) versus the Red Wings and is a +3… Nicklas Lidstrom has four points this round. Despite not scoring, Pavel Datsyuk has three assists. Brett Hull has a goal and two assists.
Craig Conroy has no points in this series and is a -2 after three games… Jarome Iginla scored a big goal last game, but that's been it for his output this round. He is also a -2… Ray Whitney has no points and is a -2 this series… Curtis Joseph has a .885 save percentage in three games against the Flames.
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 very close to returning. After not receiving clearance in game three, Rhett Warrener (eye) is expected to draw back into the lineup tonight.
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) returned last game. Chris Chelios (shoulder) is questionable.
Game three of this series was the third-highest rated television program in the Detroit market with a 13.8 rating and a 19 share. It ranked behind Frasier (14.7/20) and American Idol (14.4/20)… Game three was the first time in five starts that Wings netminder Curtis Joseph allowed more than two goals. Joseph had seven wins and three losses following games where he allowed more than two goals in the regular season… Kiprusoff is only 13th among NHL playoff goaltenders with a 2.24 goals-against average. He's 11th in save percentage at .919. However, he is third in the only category that matters at this time of year: wins… Calgary is second among all teams in the playoffs in goals-per-game average at 2.60. Interestingly, Colorado is third at 2.56. The Flames are ninth in goals-against average at 2.40. Tampa Bay leads all teams by a wide margin at 1.13… Calgary's power play is tied for seventh (with Montreal) at 13.5% and Detroit is tied for tenth (with Toronto) at 11.6%... Despite Calgary scoring with the man advantage last game, the Red Wings still lead the league by a wide margin at 95.1%. The Flames are 14th at 79.2%... Mathieu Schneider leads all Wings in icetime this round at 27:06 average per game.
"It was the greatest 32-second shift I've ever seen." – Flames defenceman Mike Commodore on rookie Brennan Evans' NHL debut. He only had one 32 second shift all evening.
I don't believe in (fate). I think that God has more important things to worry about than hockey. It's not luck, or destiny. It's nothing fancy. It's hard work and perseverance. A lot of belief in our team. When you start talking about, 'is it really special?' -- it's really not. It's really just the basics of hockey. We know what we're good at and that's playing hard, fast hockey. I hope it doesn't get more complicated than it is." – Flames defenceman Andrew Ference.
"It's not brain surgery. We believe that if we outwork another team, any other team, we can never lose. That doesn't mean you never will, because so many factors come into play in any game, in any series. But we like our chances." – Darren McCarty on what the Wings need to do to win.