Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Flames Game Day

The Flames are in St. Paul tonight for the 1st of two games against the very, very, very hot Minnesota Wild (6PM MT, Flames PPV). The Wild have won 9 straight, and are 24-5-4 in their last 33. Unlike earlier in the season, a lot more of these wins have been in regulation time, too: 19 of those 24, by my count.

Their goaltending is just sick. Nominal #1 Manny Fernandez is out for the rest of the regular season, at minimum, but Acting #1 Nicklas Backstrom is 2nd in the NHL in GAA and T-1st in SV% (unheralded Finnish goalie comes from out of nowhere to lead league -- where have I heard this one before...). And then there's acting backup Josh Harding, who has only played 243 minutes this year but nevertheless has a 0.74GAA and a .976SV%.

Their Dmen are unspectacular but clearly pretty solid; team GAA is best in the league, bolstered by the #2-ranked PK. Their powerplay is 10th, which bumps their GF totals from the bottom third up into the middle of the pack.

So how do you beat the Wild in Minnesota? Let's take it as a given that "play 60 minutes, do the little things right, stay out of the penalty box, etc." is part of the answer. I don't really know the rest of the answer, but I do like the way A.C. Rob Cookson is talking:
"You have to make [Gaborik & Demitra] play in areas they don't want to play and that's their zone.

"If you watch the games, you'll see they spend very little time in their end. They rely on Wes Walz to be a checking centreman in their zone and, when the puck is turned over, they're gone out of the zone, so you make sure to pull them back in their zone to defend when you're on offence.

"When you do that, they don't have the puck as much."

Makes sense to me. Those guys are playing extremely well and being very productive, but they're still not Lehtinen and Modano c.1999 in their own half of the ice. Also, the Flames should stay out of the penalty box...

I actually have a pretty good feeling about this game. Iginla and Conroy are off a bit in the past few games, but Huselius and Langkow are making a lotta shit happen, and Tanguay is playing as well as he has all season. Final score prediction: Calgary 4 (Iginla x2, Langkow, Phaneuf) Minnesota 2 (Wes Walz' Leg, Brad Stuart's Leg). Go Flames.


"When you do that, they don't have the puck as much."

who knew? elite slovak (?) superduo cannot score without puck from own zone?! alert the masses!

Point taken, certainly. Hey, if 1977 Bob Gainey played the whole game in his own end, the Habs get scored on.

However, I am ignoring this as my own little way of expressing gratitude for rhetoric from a Flames coach that is not the standard must compete on every shift, win puck battles, do the little things, enable us to win 1-0.

Also, I'm gratified that Cookson didn't start any of his sentences with "It's about..", an infuriating speech impediment used frequently by Playfair that has now seemingly infected some of the players (e.g. Iginla).

Just so we're clear, Nicklas Bäckström is actually the Swedish Elitserien centre taken by the Caps 4th overall in 2006. The goaltending gentleman with the Finnish passport in Minnesota is Niklas Bäckström. If they are both allowed to play in the NHL next year, space and time will undoubtedly collapse in on itself.

colby: hot damn, it will be the Petrs Sykora all over again... except both of them will be good.

Matt: my apologies but I've been blissfully unaware of the Flame cliche machine. Either way, I hope Colorado passes it somehow.

Come on Calgary, don't screw this up for me.

Okay, I actually shelled out for Flames PPV tonight, for the first time this season. So, the Flames are going to recognize this and not let me down by winning 4-3 (Huselius, Conroy, Phaneuf, Nilson v. Gaborik x2, Rolston).

Looking at first period shot stats without seeing the action, it seems like a typical Flame road game, a slow start building to a tepid first period. How many road first periods have we been outshot anyway? anyone? Bueller?

6 minutes left in the 2nd, so far seems to be "one of those games" for Hamrlik. He's made at least 2 terrible giveaways, with Gaborik on the ice, no less. Kipper has made a few good saves, but hasn't had to be amazing. Minny has definitely had more of the play, but Calgary has had a few decent chances too. Overall, not great so far, but not terrible, except Hamrlik.

Huselius just had an AWESOME shift, including hitting the post, and creating 2 other chances. Maybe this will get them going.

Hamrlik doesn't give it away *more* than any other player, but he definitely commits more of those "What in the name of all that's holy was he doing there?" giveaways than any other player.

0-0 After 60. Backstrom just made an AWESOME save off Langkow to get it to OT. Flames looked better in the 3rd, I'm going with Tanguay to win it in OT.

Wooo! Kipper has this shootout thing figured out! Iggy and Tanguay with big SO goals. Two big points. Now, Vancouver just needs to do us a solid and win tonight.

KKIIPPEERR!! Thats the kind of goaltending we just have not seen consistently this year from Kipper. It'd be great if he's been saving it for the spring.

The teams combined for 7 third period shots.

That's some thrilling hockey right there.

That's some thrilling hockey right there.

more thrilling than 12 straight losses, I would imagine.

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