Thursday, April 12, 2007

 

Flames vs. Wings: Pepto Time

Sometimes, you really gotta hand it to the pros. Today's Calgary Herald has a comprehensive, and I mean comprehensive, pre-series section, with not 5, not 10, but 34 separate pieces (all online) -- and that doesn't include anything on the other 7 series. Chats with the Flames who hold Stanley Cup rings; reports on Todd Bertuzzi's health; buyers' guides for big-ass TVs and jerseys; a heads-up that Don Wittman and Drew Remenda will be in CBC's booth; the works.

Unanswered and just about unaddressed in those thousands of words is my No. 1 Burning Question: Seriously, what's the deal with Zetterberg's back?

I find the present story to be kind of implausible: that his injury took a little more time to heal than they originally thought, but he was only held out of the last couple games to give him a few extra days for good measure, and now he's basically 100%. I think B or C is more likely:

B) His back is not better, and won't be without a full off-season (or more) to recuperate; he'll dress anyway, and his back will hinder him -- and/or, it'll be in his head that he can't push his back too much, which will hinder him.

C) He's absolutely, completely fine, and essentially has been for weeks; if the playoffs had started March 12, he would have been suiting up; he's been continuing to strengthen his back keeping in shape by squatting a bar with one trainer sitting on each end; Holland and Babcock literally decided weeks ago, "We do not give an emaciated rat's ass where we finish in the regular season -- a healthy full-strength monster Zed will mean much more in the postseason than our seed."

It's a big, and possibly series-determining, question. I give more weight to Darryl Reaugh's opinion than that of most guys who watch hockey for a living, and here's his take from just before Zetterberg's injury:
Watching Henrik Zetterberg play with his food en route to a 3 point night in the Wings come from behind 3-1 victory over our Stars, I got to thinking -- this guy deserves an award.

But what award?... Best Player on the Ice Night after Night?

You see there really isn’t an NHL trophy for a guy like Zetterberg. He could be nominated for the Selke, but is the team’s leading scorer the best defensive forward? Some coaches will argue that is exactly what he is. He has the puck all the time and when you have the pill the other team can’t score.

Well, touche, Razor. I fully expect Pavel Datsyuk to have a pretty good series. He'll keep being a point-a-game guy; there will be a Wings victory where Datsyuk scores a big goal (or two) and the post-game Flames discussion will be roughly, "If we don't do a better job of shutting him down, we're going to lose."

But -- and I almost can't believe I'm writing this, but hey, it's 2007, not 2004 -- the Flames have better top-end scoring talent than the Wings. If it's a matter of returning fire from an effective Datsyuk, they have the big guns to do it. Zetterberg, though, seems to me to be on a higher plane: the kind of player who -- like Iginla was in 2004 and hopefully will be this year -- you look at after a series and say, "He was the best player on the ice, and he was the difference." If he's got a wonky back though, he may be useful but he won't be that guy.

The stats table from yesterday shows us a bit about the Flames and Wings. Against the WC8, Detroit still won more than half their games outright, and were still excellent at EV. Those overall numbers do not appear to be distorted by the Norris Effect.

That's not the case on the PP and PK, though. Versus the WC8, PP% + PK% = 90.3%; that's approximately atrocious. 14.5% PP compared to 18.6% against all other teams; 75.8% PK compared to 90.3% against all other teams. Would the Flames be better off in a special teams battle than in a hard-nosed, mostly 5v5 series? It almost seems too ridiculous to suggest (and I'm certainly not wishing for it), but it's possible.

By the regular season numbers, these teams are pretty comparable, but the Wings have a slight edge. It's hard to believe, but the goaltending matchup looks pretty even. Both teams have a lot of playoff experience; the Wings have more past champs, but the Flames only have 2 playoff newbies (Moss & Giordano), a guy with an OT Cup-winner on his resume (McCarty, who I'm hoping is not required on skates this series) and TWO guys with multi-goal SCF Game 7's (Tanguay & Friesen). I'm not concerned about Bertuzzi; I don't think it makes a difference either way if he plays.

However, I am a Flames fan here, and I felt a lot better about their chances when I woke up this morning than I have for the past 5 days. Got out the car flag and put 'er on (rear passenger window, if you must know).

Pending visual confirmation that Zetterberg is A-OK, I think the Flames have the two best forwards in the series (Iginla & Tanguay); they also have two more excellent ones (Huselius & Langkow), and all four are essentially in their prime. The Wings have Franzen for those shorthanded and/or "where the hell did that come from?" goals, but the Flames have Lombardi for the same (and if there's any Flame who owes the Wings a (metaphorical!) spear in the 'nads, it's Lombardi). There's at least 4 other WC coaches I'd be more wary of versus Nervous Jimmy than Mike Babcock.

For my prediction, I'm gonna rhyme along with my peeps on the Red Mile. Yes, it's Flames in Six! (Show us Your Tits!)

As for tonight's game, well... Calgary doesn't have the greatest record in Game 1. Last season was the first time since '88 that they opened the playoffs with a W, and that took OT vs. the Ducks, and I guess that whole business didn't turn out so hot anyway.

Tonight, Calgary will be outshot (like they will in probably every game this series) and outplayed (which will hopefully be a one-off), but will nonetheless emerge with a 4-3 OT victory thanks to the sudden-death puckly stylings of one M. Alex Tanguay. Go Flames.

[Update: Yes, I'm aware that Regehr is out tonight. I'm hoping it's only for a couple games, and that they'll be just fine without him. It's called denial, people.]

Comments:

According to Dave over at Open Ice Hits, McGeough is reffing the game tonight...

Will have to hit the liquor store on the way home tonight...
 


A couple of additional questions: Whom does a long series favour? The Wings seem to have some old pieces; Chelly, Hasek, Lidstrom. Even though Matt laid out a compelling case for special teams offensive mastery, I still think a banging grinding series doesn't hurt the Flames. Can the Flames get the shot count up? Hasek can be nutso and he can be lights out, but the more work (and the more chances to handle the puck) the better chance for one of those Hasek brain farts. Which team is going to be able to shake off Overtime LOSSES the most effectively? A lot of playoff hockey results in playing your guts out for additional 20, 40, 60 minutes; then to lose those games can be a crushing blow, but its just one game. The team that can wear OT Losses lightly can bounce back quicker and harder.
 


Magoo? Magoo? Not Magoo. I hate Magoo. When i heard Kerry Fraser wasn't working the playoffs I said, "that's it, Flames win the Cup." But Magoo? That guy is dangerous.

But whatever, the Flames usually lose Game 1 of the Playoffs. We can cry about Magoo in the morning, or relive the Flames brilliant victory in spite of him.

I plan to relive victory in the morning.

Go Flames!!!
 


Hey man, what are you talking about? The Flames are going to sweep the Red Wings! :)
Alright, realistically, I pick them to beat the Wings and move on to round 2, even though all of the 'experts' don't agree. Well fuck them!
If the Flames get on a roll, I think they could be the Cinderella team this season. I am saying this and I don't even like the damned Flames. They have a great mix of players that can do it.
If Zetterberg even hurts a little, I don't care. The Flames should be crushing that little Swede all night long in hopes of taking him out for the series. There is no use in showing him any mercy!
 


Are you fucking kidding me?! Fucking Magoo?! The one ref who truly hates the Flames and the league always manages to put him on the ice for important games. Fuckin fuck.

On an 'actually relevant to the game note', I'm extremely nervous about this series, and I can't see any way to predict a Flames victory, so I'll just not make a prediction at all and say "Go Flames Go!!!!!", and hope for the best.
 


Nice to see Magoo tonight (there is a god)!
 


BWAH AH AH AH AHHHHH. It's payback time with Mr. McGoon.
 


McGeough sucks...

Almost as badly as our D are playing tonight...

They are directly responsible for at least two of those goals...

Probably all three...
 


4-0. THERE IS A GOD!!!

Nice fucking shirt, Playfair.

Good thing you guys have home-ice advantage...
 


Well, this is just embarrassing.
 


At least you guys are coming on here and bitching. I really do appreciate it.
 


Nice fucking shirt, Playfair.

What kind of a white guy wears a mustard yellow dress shirt? Huh? Jim Playfair has no clue, across the board.
 


2 periods and the Flames look like they're playing a pre-season game.

Amazing.
 


That shirt has been a recurring joke amongst my friends and I all year. And one of them's a Flames fan. Every game, we look for it. Every higlight, we look for it. Just a beauty.
 


Well, before Oil fans get ahead of themselves, Game 1 isn't everything.

I remember a certain 1990 game 1 in which Bill Ranford was awful and Moe Mantha was a moustached, scoring Adonis.
 


For once I'm coming to this blog during the playoffs and not wanting to kill myself. I'm savoring this moment as a Red Wings fan.

And why Magoo? He sucks.
 


Well, before Oil fans get ahead of themselves, Game 1 isn't everything.

Sure it is. I want every ounce of joy I can squeeze out hockey right now, and this is a good start.
 


WINGS IN FOUR. *spits*
 


Does anyone have a clue why the Flames would play this bad? IT IS THE PLAYOFFS.

I mean, the Wings are playing quite well but the Flames are just awful. Did the team puppy die just before the game or something?

Worse yet for Flames fans, Jarmoe is back (I can't even remember hearing Iggy's name all night).
 


On TSN, they just spent ten minutes debating eliminating extended overtime in the playoffs. Is there anything that people won't bitch about with this game? Dreger said it best: it's only an issue because the Canucks/Stars game was on the west coast. God forbid people in Toronto being forced to stay up late.
 


There is Iginla for the first time tonight, and he's going into the penalty box. hahahaha What a great night of hockey it has been!
 


God forbid people in Toronto being forced to stay up late.

No kidding. Having large crowds that stick around on weeknights for these extended OTs, even in the States, should speak for itself.
 


Does anyone have a clue why the Flames would play this bad?

I've watched more Flames games than normal this year, and they are totally Jekyll and Hyde. Even within games they will be that way. Would Flames fans agree?


Fucking Phanuef. And then Jarmoe with the cheap shot on Zetterberg, too. Clowns.
 


vxzrfvJarmoe's on the board now...

The boys are playing like crap...

Except for Kipper...

If it wasn't him in net they'd be down by at least 8 by now...
 


Hell yeah Andy! One game goes into 4 overtimes, and all of a sudden it might be a problem. The idiots down east need to bugger off.
 


Nice dive by Kipper on that play. Total sell-job.
 


It was nice of Cleary to drop his shoulder going in too...

Bush league...
 


Just an awesome performance by the Flames. Awesome.
 


It was nice of Cleary to drop his shoulder going in too...

He was three feet out of his net, Randy. Cmon, now.
 


He was three feet out of his net, Randy. Cmon, now.

And that has anything to do with anything how, exactly? Kipper had just made a save. Cleary made no effort to get out of the way, in fact driving into Kipper a little extra. Total garbage at the end of a game that's already decided.
 


Cleary made no effort to get out of the way, in fact driving into Kipper a little extra.

Driving into Kipper a little extra? He's making a play for the puck. A defender is on him. Kipper is out of his crease. What do you want him to do? Use his rocket boosters to leap into the sky? Why didn't Kipper get out of the way? Again, cmon now.
 


The skater has the responsibility to get out of the way, not the other way around. Goalies are protected property.

Imagine that was Roloson and tell me if you'd say the same thing. Of course you wouldn't. You're letting your hatred of the Flames cloud your judgement.
 


Greatest game ever. I've seldom seen any team, never mind the Blue-Collar, Never-Say-Die, Gritty, Hard-Nosed, Not in the Least Dirty Calgary Flames, fold that completely in a playoff game. I choose to believe that the Oilers completely screwed up their brains.
 


Andy turns into quite a smack talker when he's got nothing to lose it seems.
 


I choose to believe that the Oilers completely screwed up their brains.

Do so if you wish, but this is the same Flames road team we saw all year: slow, confused and pensive. Andy's right, Calgary is completely Jekyl and Hyde. Many of us *hoped* that wouldn't be the case in the post-season, but...

the only positive is Kipper was great.
 


the only positive is Kipper was great.

He's the one Flame you guys can count on in big games. Looks like the defence has been reading their own clippings from the past three years...
 


Do so if you wish, but this is the same Flames road team we saw all year: slow, confused and pensive.

I in no way meant to imply that my belief was rational. Merely that I really wanted to hold it.
 


that was awesome.


go Wings!
 


Forget winning the series. The Flames' only objective should be to murder Dan Cleary. I don't even care if it was an accident. Cleary, dead.
 


Imagine that was Roloson and tell me if you'd say the same thing.

I wouldn't have, because he barely touched Kipper. And I know Roli would have flopped, spazzed out, and gave up three bad goals afterwards. Whose judgement is clouded again?

Andy turns into quite a smack talker when he's got nothing to lose it seems

Turns into? TURNS INTO? I was born a smack talker. I got soft once I was forced to post on here. Don't know why, but I'll admit it. Tried to keep the peace too much. Now that I'm retired, I'm in the best shape of my life!

Seeing what I've seen from Calgary this year, that game didn't surprise me. But I also wouldn't be surprised if they came out the next game and kicked the shit out of the Wings. They seem to ebb and flow, and go from absolute hot streak to absolute shit streak. They are obviously on a shit streak right now. The question is, how much longer will it last?
 


Dion's facepunch on Zetterfuck was the best thing about that game, I hope he has a concussion.
 


Ah, there's my angry Nathan. Now, if any Flames fan out there wants to get a clip of that Cleary drive and point out to me how horrible of a run it was, I'd be happy to watch and listen. You lost, it sucks, the Oilers suck, I know. But the fact remains: he barely touched him.
 


that was awesome.
Awesome? AWESOME?! Who the hell do you think you are, with your awesome.

go Wings!
In case you haven't noticed the Wings are a bunch of dicks. God, I can't believe I even read this blog with such unsubstantiated, unobjective bullshit on it! GAWD!
 


Dion's facepunch on Zetterfuck was the best thing about that game, I hope he has a concussion.

Yeah, that was pure class. You guys wonder why Cleary didn't ease up going into Kipper.
 


They are obviously on a shit streak right now. The question is, how much longer will it last?

Here's hoping three more games.
 



Yeah, that was pure class. You guys wonder why Cleary didn't ease up going into Kipper.


Dude, I was kidding, you know venting after my team got emberassed? I don't actually think face punches are awesome, unless Bertwosies is breaking Steve Moore's neck, and then it's super good, and you can "take that to the bank". HA! That was a joke too, you know.
 


I suppose we can kill the myth of Canadians cheering for a Canadian team.

People from Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa mostly would rather see, say, Buffalo win the Cup instead of a rival.

Like a bunch of fighting cats in a bag filled with bees.
 


I'd face punch Zetterberg too, just because he's so dreamy.

Hey, isn't this about the point in the year that someone should say they'd rather get a high pick in the draft then get swept in the first round?
 


FLAMES LOSE. *spits*
 


Hey, isn't this about the point in the year that someone should say they'd rather get a high pick in the draft then get swept in the first round?

KLowe keeps telling himself that very same thing, over and over until he falls asleep. It's one of his many techniques he has learned in order to deal with the grumpies.
 


Dude, I was kidding, you know venting after my team got emberassed?

Fair enough. Typical Phaneuf though.
 


McGeough shoulda given Phaneuf two minutes for being a TOTAL PUSSY.
 


McGeough shoulda given Phaneuf two minutes for being a TOTAL PUSSY.

No way man, he shoulda given 'im FIVE minutes for being a stoopid poop face.

I'm pretty sure anon is, in fact, Grabia trying to bait somebody.
 


I'm pretty sure anon is, in fact, Grabia trying to bait somebody.

It's possible, though there certainly has been a bigger number of anonymous mouthbreathers 'round these parts lately.
 


Try as I might I can't root for the Wings. I mean Chelios...and Sneider...fucking Chelios? How in the fuck can anyone root for Chelios?
 


You are crazy to think that your hurtin Flames are gonna beat the Wings. They aint got a chance. They are a over-rated team with weak Dmen and poor coaching. You should be grateful that Bertuzzi didnt play tonight, He has missed the whole season and still is miles better than anything you have to offer. Iginla craps his pants when they share the same ice :)
Wings in 5, cause the hurtin Flamers will win one at home.
 


Iginla craps his pants when they share the same ice :)

I'm told that loss of control of bodily function sometimes occurs when one is criminally assaulted into unconciousness.

That said, the Flames and their fans are, by and large, a bunch of douchebags. Here's hoping for a sweep and a G4 so quiet that you can hear fans thinking about where to return their new jerseys purchased with the assistance of the Herald guide (Other articles in that special section: "Why the gentleman wearing padding pushes the puck away from the net" and "How To Celebrate A Flames Win By Hitting on Your Sister."
 


I won't be in the least bit upset if the Flames lose but I did pick Iginla, Phaneuf and Huselsis in my draft so I'm picking them for the long run. On the other hand if me spending 20 bucks and winning 200 while depending on the Flames has somehow swayed things, well I guess that's the best 20 I ever spend:D

That being said, this team is dead without RR. It messes up their D rotation and tonight the Flames got their asses kicked. Not like G1 last year Oil/Det when the Wings had all those shots from the outside, tonight was a severe outchancing.

I guess I naively believed that the Flames road suction wouldn't carry into the playoffs and I still don't for that matter, RR's injury just messed them up and I have to believe that if he couldn't go tonight, he's not gonna be in great shape anytime soon no matter when he begins playing, if at all
 


"Why the gentleman wearing padding pushes the puck away from the net" and "How To Celebrate A Flames Win By Hitting on Your Sister."

MC79, you are hilarious.
 


Your point about Zetterberg's value reminds me of what could be said about Sergei Fedorov ten years ago. He usually didn't put up eye-popping offensive numbers, but when he was on the ice, the Wings had control of the puck constantly. I don't think there's anybody in the game today who's better at going after the puck carrier and swiping it away than Zetterberg.
 


I suppose we can kill the myth of Canadians cheering for a Canadian team.

And the sooner the better. Any rivalry that can be turned on and off like a faucet depending on the fortunes of one's own team isn't worth the name. I, for one, perfer not to sully my pure hatred for the Flames and 'nucks with post-season nationalist bandwagoneering.
 


Well, that sucked.

I'd say that things can only get better after that little turd of a game, but I said that after the first period last night and things got, unbelievably, even worse.

At least Kipper looked to be on his game.

But things WILL be better on Sunday. I know this to be so.

Go Flames.
 


I suppose we can kill the myth of Canadians cheering for a Canadian team.

This is a select group. They are out there, those people. In fact...
 

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