Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Steve MacFarlane of the Calgary Sun,
Miikka Kiprusoff has to make a difference.
He needs to be the difference.
Incapable of shutting down the Chicago Blackhawks offence in the regular season, the Calgary Flames defence has an even bigger hole that could be exposed with Robyn Regehr out of the lineup a couple more weeks.
Even Regehr had trouble containing some of the speedy Hawks forwards as the Flames dropped all four games to the up-and-coming Original Six squad that has given new life to the Windy City this winter.
That means Kiprusoff can expect to be tested.
from Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times,
How the precocious Hawks respond to the expected bullying will punctuate a season that has rekindled Chicago’s passion for its Original Six franchise.
‘‘We don’t know any different,’’ second-year winger Adam Burish said with a grin. ‘‘We don’t know what we’re supposed to do, how we are supposed to feel or how we’re supposed to act. We act like we think we should and have fun with it.’‘
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
After playing the final two games of the regular season with only 15 skaters, three short of the NHL maximum, the Calgary Flames had a cast of thousands out for Tuesday’s final day of practice, prior to the start of their first-round playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Altogether, 31 players skated including Mark Giordano, out recovering from shoulder surgery, who left before the contact drills and isn’t close to returning. Robyn Regehr, out with a suspected medial collateral ligament tear, was nowhere to be seen. Another defenceman Cory Sarich, recovering from a suspected broken ankle, skated on his own at 8 a.m. and is not scheduled to play in Wednesday night’s opening game.
As a result, the defence pairs for the opener figure to be Dion Phaneuf-Jordan Leopold; Adrian Aucoin-Adam Pardy; and Jim Vandermeer-Anders Eriksson. Eriksson rejoined the team today after clearing re-entry waivers.
from George Johnson of the Calgary Herald,
By the time anthem singer launches into the “oh, say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wa-a-ve . . .” bit on Thursday night, the vast wall of sound will be rising up, moving outward, like a massive rogue wave at sea, bent on levelling anything in its path.
Eardrums might burst. Floorboards will shudder.
And any old-timers at the United Center, those familiar with the long out-of-date, completely out-of-this-world old barn that once stood across the way, those who remember, will dab nostalgically at moistened eyes.
via Vicki Hall of Flames Insider,
Not surprisingly, the Calgary Flames have placed Anders Eriksson on re-entry waivers in an attempt to bolster their injury-battered defence.
The question remains whether another team will put in a claim just to deny the Flames his services in the first round against Chicago.
Coach Mike Keenan said last week that such a move would violate the unwritten code among NHL executives, but anything is possible.
from Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun,
They’ve won only one of their last six games away from the Saddledome, were shutout three times and scored a grand total of four goals in those games.
Add the way Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin has dominated the Flames—a 22-5-2 career mark, plus the seven-game series win for Tampa Bay in the 2004 Stanley Cup final—and the Flames’ putrid powerplay that’s been blanked the last 10 games (and on a zero-for-43 skid), it’s easy to write off Calgary.
“The pressure will be on them,” said centre Craig Conroy, trotting out the ‘us-against-the-world’ matra you’ll hear many times in the coming days. “Everybody is expecting them to win, and has kinda written us off a bit.
“That’s OK. That was the regular season and now things start fresh.”
from Allan of the Globe and Mail,
...But the optimistic captain of the Flames sees something else: His best shot yet to win a Stanley Cup.
Seriously. Iginla said that. Even after all the recent setbacks – the losses, injuries, a power play that hasn’t scored since Hakan Loob played here – Iginla has gone on record to say that facing the Chicago Blackhawks in the postseason is “a good matchup for us” and that the Flames will persevere in the end.
“Do I still believe this is my best chance to win the Cup? Absolutely,” he confirmed.
This is what captains say in the darkest hours, and make no mistake, there hasn’t been a lot of sunshine around the Flames lately. Soon after Calgary ended its regular season Saturday night with a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers, several players offered a battle cry that sounded bleak yet hopeful at the same time. “We’ve been bad against Chicago,” the players said. “We can’t be any worse.”
from Vicki Hall of the Calgary Herald,
So much for a mellow Mike Keenan.
Without naming names, the Calgary Flames head coach lambasted his stars Friday after a dismal 5-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers in a game that meant nothing—absolutely nothing—to the hosts.
“I expected more out of our best players,” Iron Mike snarled in the bowels of Rexall Place. “We were missing the net or we weren’t bearing down and we didn’t have the instinct to bury it.”
Indeed. The Flames missed the net 29 times compared to eight wayward shots for Edmonton.
“They’ve got to come out with a lot more determination about that part of their game, Keenan snapped.
from Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun,
Jarome Iginla is as nice a person you’ll meet.
But the Calgary Flames captain sure can be greedy at times.
Asked whether it was more important to go into the playoffs firing on all cylinders or having won the division title, Iginla’s choice was both.
“I don’t think it’s all just about the division, but playing our best would probably lead to winning our division,” he said. “I think our game’s improved as a team the last 10 days and going in the right direction, which I think is the most important thing.
“But (the division title) is in our hands. We don’t have to watch Vancouver. It’s two games and we can win the division.
“I think they go hand-in-hand and we want both.”
Flames forward David Moss has signed a multi-year deal with the team.
The Michigan native has 20 goals and 18 assists this season.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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