Flames Possibly Down to One Chance With Wold Loss Wild 3 Flames 1
April 3, 2008
In the 21 team league there were very few regular season games that
would put a knot in your stomach from first wake on game day.
clubs were awarded playoff spots, though honestly a few or so likely
should have been kept back and not bothered. Gaining a spot was clear
cut line between the average and the poor, and not something to boast
during a season ticket campaign in the following summer.
days are a long long way in the past, as evidenced in the magnitude of
tonight's game in Minnesota. Each of the Northwest division teams had
their share of peaks and swoons this season, and at four of the clubs
will likely finish with less points than they had imagined when the
season began. Now a playoff spot is a successful season, a merit badge
already earned by the Wild but being sought by the Flames.
team that has been that much better for most of the season, already
securing a spot was that much better again tonight, sending the Flames
into a "wild" and woolly weekend with a 3-1 win over the now desperate
On The Line
A big win in Edmonton has given the Flames a tiny nudge
of breathing space as they only need one point in their final two games
to secure a playoff spot. Heck even an ugly goose egg might get them in
with some help from the out of town scoreboard. However, the Flames
have designs on their slim division championship chances and need this
one to keep those hopes. And for the sake of the faint of heart getting
that spot secured before the weekend would certainly be appreciated.
A great start for Calgary striking on an early powerplay
when Daymond Langkow notched his 30th of the season. They gave that one
back with the Wild's first man advantage then both teams settled into a
real chess match of tactical play that resulted in very few scoring
chances. On the positive you have to like the Flames not having to
weather any sort of storm from their hosts, with the home ice advantage
cast aside early. Sadly the first period, like many others this season
was more about the officials than the hockey players.
at us call the game" show continued in the second when a Wild hooking
call, a delay of game call to Dustin Boyd, and then a terrible call to
Vandermeer for getting his own stick were called in a matter of
seconds. The second, mostly due to three powerplays, had the Wild with
the majority of the chances though a tip and then multi-rebound chance
by Iginla should have given the captain his 50th. With the penalties
behind them, the Flames settled back in to a solid road road style
again, leaving 40 with a tie, 20 minutes from a playoff spot.
mistake by Adrian Aucoin in the third was the difference in the game
with Marion Gaborik taking advantage and putting the Wild ahead. Later
on a powerplay he scored again to salt things away in a game that
leaves either outside help from the Oilers or some desperation in
Vancouver for the Flames to secure a playoff spot.
1 - Marion Gaborik - Big games need big players, and that's
exactly what the current Wild captain was in scoring two key third
period goals and putting the Flames away.
2 - Pavol Demitra - The other Wild Slovak was slick in picking up two assists, especially a no look pass to Fedoruk in the first period.
3 - Miikka Kiprusoff - The best of the Flames in a close game gives Kiprusoff the star in this one.
In the first period after surviving a second Wild
powerplay Kristian Huselius and Jim Vandermeer combined to make an
innocent play life and death in the Calgary zone. First Huselius didn't
get the puck deep on a simple clear in, then Vandermeer had the puck
float over him creating an odd man chance that ended with a great pad
save by Kiprusoff on Rolston. Early in the second he bested it when he
got across and stoned Marion Gaborik with an amazing stretch save that
only Kiprusoff could make.
Big Hit Dion Phaneuf was over
exuberant in stepping into Stephane Vellieux late in the first period.
A great hit for sure but so late that it had to be interference putting
the Flames in a tough spot. Of late some have wondered if Phaneuf is
hurt as we haven't seen as many highlight reel hits game to game, but
really he's done a better job of picking his spots, but not on this
Easy pick would be Adrian Aucoin for letting the fleet
footed Gaborik for getting past him in the third to put the Wild ahead,
but I'm going to pass on that ... Gaborik has made many a defender look
average. I'm targeting Flame skill as they didn't match the effort of
the Wild's best players and that was the difference.
I didn't give Nicklas Backstrom a game star despite only giving up one
goal in this one, so I'll slap him into the game story here. He didn't
face as many powerplays or chances as his counterpart, but he did make
several quality saves with the game tied at one and looking to fall in
either team's direction.
Odds and Ends
Can there be a better statistical microcosm of the
Calgary Flames odd season than the disparity between home and away
powerplay percentage this campaign? How can a team be a bottom third
powerplay all season overall and yet have a top five powerplay on the
road? Strange indeed. ... The Flames are 24-4 all time with the Wild
when Jarome Iginla gets a point, so given the magnitude of the game you
had to like #12 getting an assist on Daymond Langkow's goal just a
couple of minutes into the game. ... Unlike I'm sure many, I liked the
call on Dion Phaneuf only at the tail end of the first period. If you
can't go after a guy on a late hit that lights up one of your teammates
without getting an instigator then how can hockey teams sort out unjust
hits. However a guy shouldn't have to fight after every clean hit he
throws, something we see too often in today's NHL. ... Don't count on
Kristian Huselius getting a whole lot done EVER again in a Flames
uniform, the guy is shot. The number of simple plays, dump ins, dump
outs, head man passes that he fluttered in this one shows you he may
not recover in Calgary silks. ... OK my fault, I go out of my way to
trumpet more use of Dustin Boyd this morning in an article and the guy
takes two careless minors in the most important game to date this
season. Who does everyone want destroyed next? I'd be happy to write an
article on the Sedins if you like. Boyd didn't play again in the
second. ... Is there a player that fights it harder than Jarome Iginla
when he needs a milestone goal? Talk about chances game after game, but
no red light. ... Five on five the Flames are playing better team
defense than they've managed all season, a good sign for the post
season. Staying out of the box and deferring all their man advantages
to road games would be the other keys. In all seriousness, the Flames
have added a new bend but don't break element to their game that is
quite effective... Every building has an element of said fan, but for
Hockey State Wild fans sure spend a lot of time booing every time a
Wild player falls down. It's hockey! ... Terrible call against the
Wild, waving off what would have been a 3-1 goal in the third. The
whistle blew yes, but after the puck was in the net. Odd given how some
of the tightest calls have gone to a solution without any evidence at
all this season. ... Game one that could have helped Calgary, St. Louis
at Nashville fell to the Predators putting more pressure on the Oilers
and Canucks to help the Flames out and avoid a chilling Saturday night.
One regular season game left on tap and that goes
Saturday night in Vancouver against the Canucks, a 8pm start the second
game on Hockey Night in Canada, a game that could mean in or out for