Welcome to the first Playoff Fire Drill, for this, Calgary’s second postseason game on April 18, 2009.
I have always been of the opinion that winning the second game of a series is the most important thing in the playoffs.
You lose the first game, and it’s no big deal. You’ve got six more of the goddamn things, and the result isn’t as important as setting a tone and letting people know who you is. Certainly this was the case on Thursday, when Calgary may have lost (in overtime) but let Chicago know that they’d at least be playing smash-mouth hockey.
The Flames, though, can ill afford to play as recklessly tonight as they did at times two nights ago. Lose tonight, for any reason (soft goals or not), and you’re in a two-game hole and return home being in the unenviable position of NEEDING to win twice. Against a team like Chicago, that’s bad news for two reasons.
1. The Blackhawks are more skilled than the Flames and can be almost as mean if they need to be. The pluck they showed in the waning minutes on Thursday is indicative of their ability to elevate their game and level of urgency, which is not a characteristic that any sane person would ascribe to Calgary in the last two months or so.
2. Chicago is more than likely going to win at least once at the Saddledome. This is something to which I’ve resigned myself. And so, in theory at least, the Flames could be staring down the barrel of a 3-1 series deficit headed back to the Windy City? Not good.
So, uh, a win tonight, then?
The Calgary Flames (the fifth seed in the West) and the Chicago Blackhawks (the fourth seed). The latter team leads the series 1-0 and 3-2 on aggregate.
7:00 p.m. Mountain time and 9 p.m. Eastern time. All other time zones should .
United Center, Chicago, Illinois.
Calgary is now 19-21-2 away from home this year in all competition, and still has yet to win a game against Chicago this season. The Blackhawks were 25-9-8 at the United Center.
What (to hate about the Blackhawks):
The City with a Lot of Nicknames — Chi-town. The Second City. The Tiny Toddlin’ Town. The Windy City. Hog Butcher to the World. The City with the Big Shoulders. City by the Lake. City of the Century. The City that Works. City on the Make. Chicagoland. Hey, you arrogant midwest weirdos, pick a name and stick with it. You’re not New York. Stop acting like it.
Dustin Byfuglien — He doesn’t know his place. He had the third-most shots on the Blackhawks with 202 in 77 games. Only Pat Kane and Marty Havlat were ahead of him. And he also scored the eighth-most goals. Just 15. Four less than Offensive Superstar Dave Bolland, who got his 19 on just 111 shots. Attn Dustin: Be better at hockey.
Denis Savard — If he’d just stuck around as coach we wouldn’t be IN this mess.
Martin Havlat, again — His face is just so punchable.
Because going into a 2-0 hole would be no good! Enjoy the game and work through your hockey-related depression in the comments section.