Makin' it look mean

Ryan Lambert
April 21 2009 11:38AM

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At least it's a series now.

There was a lot to take in last night. Lots of good, strong play. Lots of physicality throughout the game. Lots of emotion, some of which boiled over in the final two minutes or so.

In other words, lots of stuff you didn't see in Games 1 and 2. That's the reason there has to be a Game 5.

Because the Flames came out and, instead of playing one period of hithithithithithithithithithithithit, they instead played three periods of hithithithithithithithitskatehithithithit, and that made all the difference. They still racked up 45 checks last night, with no more than 17 coming in any one period, and five players had four or more by themselves (Todd Bertuzzi led the way with six).

Basically, Calgary played an even, tempered game, but never removed its foot from the gas. Chicago, obviously, didn't take too kindly to it, but you'd rather they be upset with the Flames' insistence upon hitting everything they can than be cool with it. What kind of interesting hockey does that make?

The Good

David Moss — For obvious reasons. But he also had a very good defensive game that would be easy to overlook thanks to his heroic offensive contribution.

Curtis Glencross — If there was an offensive chance, it's a safe bet he was involved in it somehow. Huge night.

Olli Jokinen — I had an old coach that would call the infraction that led to Patrick Sharp's goal, "an asshole penalty." And that's what it was. But after he left the box with his head low, he elevated his game to a level we haven't seen in weeks. Blocking shots, throwing the body around, creating turnovers and more. He was instrumental in making the offense work last night, and his hit to separate a Blackhawk from the puck behind his own net turned into the game-winning goal at the other end of the ice.

Cory Sarich — It's not often a defenseman that was held pointless has an impact on the game as big as Sarich's. It was, for one night at least, enough to forget about Robyn Regehr's steadying influence at the back. Sarich was everywhere last night and was, to me at least, the best Flame on the ice.

Jarome Iginla — Didn't get any points, but he was a ball of fire all night. He did a great job setting a tone for Calgary, something which he failed to do in the first two games for any significant length of time.

Rene Bourque — This is what I wrote about Bourque after Game 2: "He may not be getting on the scoresheet, but I guarantee every Blackhawk, especially Patrick Kane, knows exactly who he is." That still holds up, I think. But those slashes gotta go.

Jim Vandermeer — Very quietly had a perfectly good game.

Miikka Kiprusoff — Two goals against on 38 shots? I can handle that.

The Bad

Dion Phaneuf — He was pretty strong at times, but his insistence on lingering over the admittedly massive hit he dropped on Jonathan Toews in the third period (and when's the last time you saw a player of Toews' caliber get ragdolled like that?) led directly to the second Chicago goal. He wasn't outwardly brutal or anything, but he shouldn't be making that kind of mistake at this point in his NHL career.

The Ugly

Discipline — I don't mean all that gobbledygook at the end of the game. I love that. Wish there had been more of it, in fact. I mean the Flames gave the 'Hawks waaaaaaaay too many power plays, especially in the third period, and if the Chicago power play had been running like it was on Saturday, we wouldn't be here talking about a win right now.

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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 walkinvisible
April 21 2009, 01:28PM
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(and when’s the last time you saw a player of Toews’ caliber get ragdolled like that?)

when dion took out heatley about three months ago.

but yeah. he definitely lingered and was obviously out of position, with no urgency to get back into it, when it really mattered ten seconds later.

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#2 Keith M
April 21 2009, 02:06PM
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I agree with what you said about Sarich, he earned his entires seasons paycheque last night, he was solid and kept hearing his name all night long. Also really like Jokinen last night.

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#3 Smitty
April 21 2009, 05:03PM
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I think what I noticed most about the Flames last night was their ability to clear the garbage in front of the net.

If ever Kipper left a massive rebound and was out of position for the save, somebody in red was there to get rid of the puck. It was a very refreshing change.

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#4 Blazing Ace
April 21 2009, 05:44PM
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WHOLE NEW BALL GAME!!!

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#5 R O
April 21 2009, 08:10PM
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I disagree that Vandermeer's game was that good. He looked to me like he was in over his head at times, turning the puck over and being caught out of position. This manifested itself in Chicago's second goal (and, might I add, their only ES goal).

It was very refreshing to see no soft goals let in by Kipper. I'm concerned by the D getting beat twice by those cross-crease passes though. But I'm happy Sarich is back as he has done his mighty best to settle down the D. Candidate for unsung hero.

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