I have some good news and some bad news

Ryan Lambert
April 17 2009 10:49AM

lncl

The good news is the Flames probably played Chicago far tougher than anyone expected. The bad news is it ultimately got them to the same destination as if they had played like garbage.

First some good news: the Flames played the first 50 minutes or so of that game like the Flames of a couple months ago that were pretty much unstoppable. You remember those guys. Played a big, physical game, scored opportunistic goals, limited shots in both quantity and quality.

Basically, they bossed the Blackhawks around for a good portion of the night in their home rink in front of a sold-out and what was a raucous, jam-packed United Center. The crowd, like the Blackhawks, were more or less silent for the majority of the game.

They played far better than anyone who's watched them since the deadline could have reasonably expected and even in that somewhat empty triumph (given the end result), have already surpassed my expectations for the series. I leave it to you to determine how much of an accomplishment "not getting steamrolled" is.

Now the bad news: Martin Havlat took over the game with just over 5:30 to go, scoring to pull the 'Hawks even and then once again, just 12 seconds into overtime, to steal a win, a 1-0 series lead, and perhaps whatever confidence to which the Flames may have been clinging.

That's real bad news.

The Good

Miikka Kiprusoff — First and foremost, I thought he was outstanding and it's rather difficult to fault him for any of the goals the Blackhawks scored. It will go down as a 3-on-28 performance which, statistically, is poor, but as the game went on, he had to face a higher volume of shots that were of increasing quality. His saves before the first Havlat goal were rather spectacular, as were a few after. He deserved better than he got.

Physicality — Want to compete in road playoff games? Hit everything. And the Flames did that. They sent a clear and emphatic message that the outcome of this series, whether it was a win or a loss, would be decided on the basis of attrition. Sure, Chicago, you can get to the second round, but first Bourquey's gonna put Kaner on Queer Street for a period and a half.

Speaking of the Bourque hit on Kane — That was the point at which I stopped worrying that the Flames had perhaps left their hard hats back in Calgary. The boys were very focused on the game plan (Hit. Everything.) from the giddyup.

The Cammalleri-Langkow-Bertuzzi line — They were the best line last night for either team, and they did everything well. Couldn't have asked for a better performance from those boys.

Dion Phaneuf — I thought he imposed his will on the opposing forwards, bum wheel or not.

Team defense — Comprehensive is a very good word for it, especially given the patchwork nature of a D corps that featured Anders Eriksson in his first NHL game this season, Phaneuf playing on his aforementioned injury and Adam Pardy in his first-ever Stanley Cup playoff game.

Makin' like Ric Flair — No matter where he goes next year (hint: not Calgary), I will always like Mike Cammalleri for this dirtiest-player-in-the-game cheapshot on Havlat. WOOOOOOO!

The Bad

Stars missing in action — You didn't hear a whole hell of a lot out of Jarome Iginla or Olli Jokinen, did you?

Anders Eriksson — I understand, it's a tough situation. You play close to 30 minutes a night in the AHL for a full season and then finally get the call-up because of injuries. Then you play 22 minutes a night against some pretty significant competition. And you finish minus-2 as a consequence. I get that this isn't exactly fair to him. But he also just stood there while Martin Havlat danced out of the corner, around him like he was a ghost, and scored the game-tying goal inside of six minutes to go. That was pretty damn frustrating.

The Ugly

The 12 seconds of overtime — No joke, this is the running play by play on NHL.com for the ENTIRE overtime:

0:00 FAC CGY won Neu. Zone - CGY #12 IGINLA vs CHI #36 BOLLAND 0:08 GIVE CGY GIVEAWAY - #40 LEOPOLD, Neu. Zone 0:12 GOAL CHI #24 HAVLAT (2), WRIST, Off. Zone, 41 ft. Assist: #36 BOLLAND (1)

The only thing it doesn't tell you, of course, is that in the four seconds between the ATROCIOUS giveaway on attempted cross-ice stretch pass through the neutral zone, Jordan Leopold busied himself with shoving Andrew Ladd backward into Kiprusoff. Some of my friends were arguing that it should have been goaltender interference, but Leopold's play was so mind-numbingly daft that he deserves to cost the Flames a game on principle.

The power play — I'm considering making this spot permanent. Now 0-fer in its last 47, I think. I don't care how good people say it looks, if the puck's not going in the net, it looks like garbage.

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Yer ol' buddy Lambert is handsome and great and everyone loves him. Also you can visit his regular blog at The Two-Line Pass or follow him on Twitter. Lucky you!
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#1 Jonathan Willis
April 17 2009, 11:36AM
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Kipper seriously rates in your good books after that game? The first shot was screened a little bit but was from a horrible angle; Kipper shouldhave had the net covered. On the second goal, yes one of the three Flames on Havlat should have had him, but Kipper overcommitted to the left of the net and kicked that rebound right into the slot. On the third goal, it didn't look like Ladd went into Kiprusoff all that hard; if he'd done a simple butterfly he would have had it.

On any one goal there's some room for arguing Kiprusoff wasn't to blame, but on all three there's a basis for saying he really should have had it. Besides, most of his spectacular saves were on shots that wouldn't have happened if he'd had his rebound control down pat.

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#2 Kent
April 17 2009, 11:52AM
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Yeah, Kipper rates, at best, average for me in that game. Great saves + lackluster goals against = average.

Im with you on the Bert line though. They played really well..even the oaf himself, which is rare.

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#3 ngthagg
April 17 2009, 11:53AM
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From your other website, it seems you missed the lowest point of the game, which rates a mention as ugly: the strategy between Calgary's second goal and Chicago's second goal.

Keenan, reliving the 90's, decided that a one goal lead with 16 minutes to play was ironclad, so he switches to an attempted shutdown game. For the next 10 minutes, the shots go 8-0 for Chicago, and on the ninth shot they score.

Here's a selection of comments from Kent W's SBN blog last night:

"Flames suddenly look terrible. Stupid sit back mentality, I hate it."

"Rope-a-dope only worked in Zaire in 1974, to the best of my recollection."

"Flames are going to get scored on at this pace. They’ve totally given up moving the puck forward."

How is it that a bunch of nerds sitting in front of computers can see something like this, and Keenan, a professional hockey coach, can't?

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#4 DFT
April 17 2009, 12:50PM
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I hate to do this but heres another "Bad" (I could do this all day)

Andre Roy- Or should I say "Not Boyd". Why the hell would Keenan dress Roy? The only reason I can think of is so that Roy could fight someone to send a message or to swing the momentum of the game. But can anyone think of a time when an Andre Roy fight has done any good? They guy gets his ass handed to him every time. Boyd has more skill, more speed, and with him on the 4th line has more potential to swing the momentum of a game. Oh never mind Roys a funny guy, so he gets to play.

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#5 TLP
April 17 2009, 01:02PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Kipper seriously rates in your good books after that game? The first shot was screened a little bit but was from a horrible angle; Kipper shouldhave had the net covered. On the second goal, yes one of the three Flames on Havlat should have had him, but Kipper overcommitted to the left of the net and kicked that rebound right into the slot. On the third goal, it didn’t look like Ladd went into Kiprusoff all that hard; if he’d done a simple butterfly he would have had it. On any one goal there’s some room for arguing Kiprusoff wasn’t to blame, but on all three there’s a basis for saying he really should have had it. Besides, most of his spectacular saves were on shots that wouldn’t have happened if he’d had his rebound control down pat.

granted that if you look at the total overall performance from a statistical point of view, kipper had a below-average night. but you can't go from "well none of them were especially his fault" to "because he had three that weren't his fault, that becomes his fault."

so much went wrong in the lead-up to those goals that i can't be upset with kipper for it, and really he kept the flames in the game for its entirety.

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#6 TavisCarr
April 17 2009, 02:19PM
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TLP wrote:

but you can’t go from “well none of them were especially his fault” to “because he had three that weren’t his fault, that becomes his fault.”

You just blew my mind TLP

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#7 Jonathan Willis
April 17 2009, 03:27PM
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TLP wrote:

but you can’t go from “well none of them were especially his fault” to “because he had three that weren’t his fault, that becomes his fault.”

But I can go from "well, all three were stoppable" to "Kipper had a bad night".

Kipper may not have been the primary culprit on any of the goals (although I'd argue he was on Barker's), but he was at least partially to blame on all of them. If he lets one stoppable goal in, we say he had a good night. Two, well, that's pushing it. Three? That's a bad night.

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