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Flames Foil Visiting Sabres
Flames 4 Sabres 1

Darren Linn
January 21, 2006

The fear of the unkown is a common conception in almost all aspects of life, and indeed, sports. It's no different in the NHL this season as some teams are facing one another for the first time in many moons. The last time the Calgary Flames and the Buffalo Sabres hooked up for a game, the guys in red had the names Oliwa, Conroy, Gelinas, Clark, Lydman, Turek, McLellan, Gauthier, Green, Betts and Lowry among others on their roster. The Sabres sported guys the likes of Satan, Taylor, Patrick, Delmore, and others.  Much has changed, and as pointed out, much is unknown from that time 27 months ago, but there was little to fear, at least from a Flames perspective.

With a re-invented lineup, a very long run in the playoffs in their pocket of experience, and a mini winning streak of two games, Calgary took the ice to gain some momentum as they head out on one of the oddest 5 game road trips they will see all year.

On The Line

Hmmmm, nothing much really...other than keeping pace with the Canucks and Oilers, while distancing themselves a couple points from Tuesday's opponent the Colorado Avalanche who lost earlier in the day. It's a tight, tight, North West division, and it's not likely to change a whole lot until sometime in late March or early November.

The Flow

The Flames were prepared when they hit the ice at 7:05 and it showed. They came out flying in comparison to the Sabres and held a 1-0 lead before the Sabres registered a shot on net. The Sabres had been touted as the best skating team in the East, and the Flames went stride for stride with them and actually were the quicker bunch. In the 2nd period the referees took over with a parade of penalties to both squads which slowed things up for a while. The 3rd was a typical Flames showing when they have a lead. Dump the puck deep, check check check, and not give the opposition a whole lot of room through the neutral zone. The Sabres broke through a couple times and made for a nervous moment or two, but all in all Calgary was the best team all night long.

Three Stars

1 Robyn Regehr. Many around the NHL have no idea just how good this guy plays the game. Yes his goal should not of counted, but it was everything else he did on the night that I am going to give him the nod for. An absolutely crushing hilight reel hit, the little things he does at both ends of the ice but especially in his own end, and the poise with which he handles himself even in the face of panic on the ice.

2 Miikka Kiprusoff.  The fabulous Finn proves once again why he has to be considered one of the top 3 goaltenders in the world right now. When a goalie is in the zone he is in, things come easy and it looks even easier. He has been doing both for a while now and this one was no different. Surrendering only 1 goal on 30 shots...that's world class goaltending folks. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

3 Maxim Afinoganov.  The slick Russian was the most dangerous offensive player for either team all evening. He scored the Sabres lone goal and was stoned by "kipper" on one other clear cut break away.

Big Hit

This is going to be the easiest call of the year in this department. Robyn Regehr took all of his 235 lbs and helped Ales Kotalik complete his line change. When all was said and done, Kotalik was upside down, his legs in the air, and on the Sabres bench. This was the classic "ass over tea kettle" scenario, and one that Charlie Brown would of been proud of.

Big Save

Though both goaltenders turned away many good chances on the night, as evidenced by the shot totals, I have to give the nod to Kiprusoff this one for his stoning of Maxim Afinoganov with about 6 minutes in the 3rd after the winger was sent in on the Flames net all alone. It may not of been his toughest save of the night, but the timing was imperative and stopped any chance of giving Buffalo a second wind.

The Goat

The NHL, referees Kevin Pollack and Tom Kowal, linesmen Mike Cvik and Brad Lazarowich, and anyone else associated with the most obvious blown call of the NHL season. Though the goal didn't matter in the outcome of the game, Robyn Regehr's marker during a PP in the 2nd period was clearly one that should not of counted. He kicked it in. No way to get around it, even if he didnt mean too. Horrible decision by all involved and something that, in this day and age particularly, should never ever happen in a professional league of this caliber.

Mr. Clutch

One Mr. Andrew Ference gets the tip of the hat tonight, for a couple reasons. Playing with a raw rookie, logging over 20 hard minutes, getting into a spirited fight late in the game, and playing a poised PP QB position when called on, earns him some kudos. He is so very much underappreciated for what he contributes. A solid game all around.

Odds and Ends

 As I am writing this, the Oilers have just lost in a shoot-out, the Canucks scored 6 in the 1st 14 minutes of their game and are cruising and the Avs lost earlier. The Flames will still be sitting in 1st when you open the papares Sunday morning with a bit of space between the Oil and Avs.... The Flames defense first attitude was never more prevalent as early on when they held the Sabres shotless for over 14 minutes to open the game. Unfortunately that shot was a goal, but the only one......Anyone else know that for the 4 years Toni Lydman was a Flame we alla apparently pronounced his name incorrectly? Loodman is now the way it is to be said. Everyone got that?.....Darryl Sutter rarely loses his cool during a game, but when Dion Phaneuf was called in the 2nd period to put the Flames down two men, MSG network showed the Flame grand poobah let loose with a series of "F" bombs towards the referee and not letting up right until the puck dropped again. Hope those kids watching cant read lips yet.....5 of the Flames dmen logged over 20 minutes with Regehr 2.0 skating for just over 12 minutes...Flames won the hitting battle 21-11 according to the off ice officials....They also won blocked shots 22-9 and in the faceoff dot went almost dead even at 49%....Just a couple personal observations on my part. With Ottawa smoking the Leafs yet again I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that should the Leafs lose on Monday night in the rematch, Pat Quinn loses his job. With the Devils now on a 9 game winning streak, Lucky Lou doesn't need to make a move anytime soon and may wait and see who shakes out around the league (yes im suggesting Quinn should he be cut loose).

Next up Up highway 2 to the pill bottle and part 6 of the BOA.

Lines -

Reinprecht-Lombardi- Iginla
McCarty- Yelle- Kobasew
Simon-Nilson- Donovan








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