Cinderella Bites Back 

Flames Force President's Trophy Winner to Brink 

May 1st, 2004

May day! May day!

The Calgary Flames played their first hockey game in May since 1989, the year the Flames won the Stanley Cup. The contest had nowhere near the significance of the last May encounter, but try telling that to the depleted Flames squad that ground the league's best outfit to a 1-0 victory in the enemy confines of Joe Louis Arena.

With the win the plucky, never-say-die Flame club takes a three games to two lead in their Western Semi-Final, with a chance to clinch the series and advance to the Western Final with a win on Monday night, in the sure to be loud Pengrowth Saddledome.

Who'd a thunk?

The Flames did all the little things right in this one.

They came out of the gates strong, putting up their best first period of the three games in Detroit, and possibly their best first frame in the series.

There were no goals to show for the start, but they did have lots of chances, setting the stage for a potential road setup.

The Flames got in some penalty trouble in the second period when the club took three straight second period penalties in the second period, giving the home side a great chance to jump out in front in the contest.

"I thought all the penalties were questionable", Darryl Sutter told the media at his press conference after the game.

"We're not just playing the Detroit Red Wings", he stated, "but that's OK".

OK, indeed as the Flames were able to shut down the Detroit powerplay, the third of which ended with Wing captain Steve Yzerman taking a puck in the eye off of Rhett Warrener's skate and leaving the game. It was ironic that it was Warrener's skate deflection hitting Yzerman as just a week ago it was Yzerman's stick hitting Warrener's eye to send him to the sidelines.

Yzerman was taken to hospital for observation, and as of yet we don't have word on his long term or short term status.

A few minutes after the kill the Flames seemed to find their legs again, mainly due to a great cycle shift from rookie Chuck Kobasew, veteran Stephane Yelle, and the called out Oleg Saprykin.

Saprykin was singled out after the game four loss when he failure to remove the puck from hostile territory led to the Wings game winner in the third period.

The trio kept the puck deep for a long shift and then changed on the fly one by one until Jarome Iginla fought loose the puck and sent a backhand pass into the slot to Craig Conroy. Conroy, playing without the jaw guard that has made him ineffective in this series, took the puck to the net and beat Curtis Jospeh high to the short side for the game's only goal.

The Flames almost went up two late in the second when Iginla one timed a shot that Joseph kicked out to keep the score close heading to the third.

Detroit poured it on in the third stanza, but were unable to get many blue chip chances as the Flames did an admirable job of keeping the Wings from the scoring areas.

The game wound down to a climax with the puck pinned deep in the zone and Stephane Yelle battling without a stick. At one point the puck slid to Iginla who fluttered a backhand short of leaving the zone.

"When I saw Iginla get the puck I thought, just get it out", Craig Conroy told CBC after the game. "When it fluttered over his stick I thought oh no!".

But little came of the miscue as the Flames wound down the clock and sent the game back to the rabid Calgary fan base with something to really cheer about on Monday night.

The Flames biggest triumphs in club history, a list that includes a Stanley Cup win and an upset over the Edmonton Oilers - have all occurred on enemy ice, and not at the Saddledome.

It would be a nice chance to see a little history made on home ice.

With this club, don't rule it out.






1) Miikka Kiprusoff - A shut out is a shut out, and you can't pick a bigger game to pitch one then game five in the Joe Louis arena. He didn't have to be great that often as the team itself played very well, but he was solid. 

2) Craig Conroy - Scored the game winner and was back to his confident self with the jaw guard removed from his helmet. 

3) Curtis Joseph - Was outstanding early or the Flames could have gotten away from the homeside.

Midway through the third period Kirk Maltby took the puck to the slot and fed a streaking Tomas Holmstrom who was robbed on his deflection by a sliding Miikka Kiprusoff.

In the second period Brendan Shanahan did a great job of keeping the puck in by running over Matthew Lombardi on the side boards.

Matthew Lombardi took his first shot in this series during the first period of game five. ... Conroy's goal was his first of this series which brings up a point. How many hands up that would have had the Flames up three games to two on the Detroit Red Wings with Conroy and Iginla having only one goal apiece through five games. Secondary scoring seems to be doing the job in Calgary. ... Speaking of depth, can anyone figuere out this team's future top six defenceman given the play of Andrew Ference, Mike Commodore and Steve Montador in these playoffs? The starting six tonight will be joined by Denis Gauthier, Toni Lydman and Dion Phaneuf at training camp (if there is one) this September. Try cutting three of those guys. ... Rhett Warrener returned to the lineup with a visor tonight and logged a solid 20 plus minutes of duty. Dave Lowry did him one better, suiting up for the first time in four months and playing a solid eleven and half minutes. This begs the question, who sits on Monday night when Ville Nieminen returns to the lineup? Saprykin bounced back, Lowry was solid and Nieminen has to play. ... The Red Wings are now 3 for 20 on the powerplay, having scored all three goals in the game two victory. ... The Flames were on pounded on faceoff's again losing almost 2/3 of the draws. ... Nik Lidstrom led all skaters with almost 30 minutes of ice time. Robyn Regehr was the Calgary leader with just over 26. Mike Commodore was held down to a surprising 6 minutes of play with the return of Warrener. Steve Montador is clearly in Sutter's good books as he surpassed Andrew Ference for ice, coming in at 22:12.

Gelinas Conroy Iginla 
Lowry Nilson Donovan 
Saprykin Yelle Clark 
Oliwa Lombardi Kobasew

Regehr Montador 
Ference Commodore 
Warrener Leopold

  Back to
Read other Stories
Talk About it!