Sunday, April 30, 2006


Flames-Ducks Game 5 review

Now that had all the elements of the '05/'06 Flames' home games that we've come to know and love.
I'm not going to belabour this very long, as he could always come back in Game 6 with a hat-trick or some damn thing, but I hope everyone has now clued in to which Huge Contract Superstar is dominating this series. For some reason after Game 4, watchers even in Calgary persisted in their comments that Scott Niedermayer was "controlling the game from back there", despite plenty of visual evidence to the contrary and a difference of six between his and Iginla's +/- rating.

Last night Jarome chalked up another 2G, +1 while Niedermatador went -1; the numbers alone may not have changed anyone's perspective, but Nied getting pylonned by Iginla in front of the net for a 3-0 score just may have.

If I could pick one defenseman in the league to retrieve a puck in my own end, under pressure, and get it out safely, I might well pick Niedermayer. The number of times he's confounded Flames forecheckers with a quick, accurate pass in an unexpected direction is pretty impressive. And, the offensive element to his game is clearly a big plus. But if I'm picking a defenseman to neutralize the other team's top line or top scorer, he's a long way down the list. There's four Flames D-men who have been doing it more impressively than him, this series.

Speaking of Selanne, how can anyone not be impressed with this guy? I admit it, I thought his career was dead. When Kariya and Selanne moved to the Avalanche before the '03/'04 season (prompting a few people to concede the Stanley Cup right there), I predicted correctly that they'd be ineffective. Usually when a guy like Selanne loses that step, it's gone forever, and furthermore, they can't usually adjust their game to compensate. But somehow he's fast again, and he's still opportunistic, and he might be tougher than he's ever been (leading to the outwardly absurd Kelly Hrudey statement that Regehr may have elbowed Selanne's head into the glass in self-defense).

Now that the game is over, I'm glad the Ducks came back to make the score close. I think that sometimes players have the same problem as fans and media; as a game recedes into the past and memories cloud, they confuse margin of victory with ease of victory. I'd much rather head into a tough road game coming off of a one-goal win than a three-goal win, because I think there's a much better chance that the players will be in the needed mindset.

Postscript: Odds are back at 40.8%. One more win each by the Flames, Oilers, and Avalanche, and we have ourselves a Round 2 Battle of Alberta (a.k.a. the Smythe Division Finals).


Iginla has been outstanding, but how much of it is simply a matter of him having the whammy on Giguere? Is he going to be able to bag those cheap glove-side goals in bunches against some other netminder?

Smythe Division Finals? Whaddya mean? The Oilers and Jets aren't going to play.

Does anyone else really miss that big picture of QEII in the Winnipeg Arena, btw?

Iggy has been excellent and not just when he has been bamboozling Giguere (which is not that tough). There was an early penalty kill last night where Iggy chased the puck into the Duck's corner and then it, the puck, chased him around for the next thirty seconds or so, until Lombardi could streak in and set up Amonte for the empty netter.

And some people are saying Giguere has lost it (maybe that's fair) but I maintain his replacement is not better. In fact, at the risk of awakening the ghost of Wade Flaherty, I saw bring on the backup for game 6.

Now that the Avs have finished off the Stars (who I saw as the biggest threat in the West) the Battle of Alberta is but two wins away on Monday night.

At the risk of awakening the ghosts of 83,84, 88 and 91, I say bring it on.

Go Flames

I have to disagree in your statement that Bryzgalov is no better than Giguere. Giguere when he is playing well probably has a significant edge on Bryz, but the problem with Giggy is that he's wildly inconsistent (at least this year and the season previous). Regarding Bryzgalov's status as a backup, I think (not certain) that he's in line to become the starter once Giggy's hefty contract is up. Rumour has it that Burke was trying to trade away Giguere at the deadline but couldn't find a buyer for the right price.

I would say Bryz is backup in name only at this point. There's no question JSG is struggling in these playoffs.

That's not to take anything away from Old Missing Tooth though. He's been underwhelming all season so it's about time he turned it up.

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