Some good, some bad from last night. The Flames were probably the better team through the first half of the game and lead for most of it. Course, it only matters if you're leading at the end of the game, so...
I was particularly impressed by 2 of the 4 lines: Conroy's unit (duh) and, surprisingly, Langkow's trio were consistently dangerous (kudos to...Bertuzzi...yuck I feel so dirty). The 4th line did little more than get scored on and the First line was - at least from my couch - a disaster.
A lot of the story lines from the regular season persisted into last night: the PP went oh-fer again, Kiprusoff sullied an otherwise strong outing with another stinker, Olli Jokinen went scoreless and Jarome continued to struggle against the Blackhawks.
Perhaps the biggest issue was the coaching of Mike Keenan. I thought he made a lot of fundamental errors. For example, the Flames fourth line (featuring Andre Roy for no good reason) was caught on the ice with Hawks first line, resulting in the first goal against. And it wasn't because of an icing call - Quenneville changed on the fly and caught Keenan napping. Here's the other errors I noticed:
- His preference for the Jokinen/Iginla duo. Not just in sticking with it, but he put the line out during important portions of the game. I couldn't believe he went with Iginla et al for the final (own zone) face-off at the end of the third period: they'd spent most of the evening losing face-offs and getting schooled in their own end. The Hawks got a number of quality chances as a result.
- Anders Eriksson. 22:44, -2, 0 shots on net -11 corsi. Anders Eriksson is a fringe NHLer, at best. Anders Eriksson shouldn't be playing 20 minutes a night in an NHL play-off game. What are we paying James Vandermeer 2.3M for if he's going to be usurped in important matches by the likes of Anders FRICKEN Eriksson? (Most glaring stat? 3:03 SH ice for Eriksson. Vandermeer played 52 seconds short-handed. Honestly). ~fume~
- The decision to fall back into a "prevent" defense in the third period was just plain baffling. The Flames had been enjoying success with the existing strategy all night. Not to mention, prevent defense isn't exactly the forte of a club lacking two of it's best defensive rear guards and a goalie with the 32nd best SV% in the league. It was obvious as the gut on Britney Spears that the Hawks were going to tie it up once the Flames started sitting back and floating pucks into the neutral zone.
One begins to wonder, after watching Keenan make odd decision after odd decision, if the Flames bench boss is simply past his prime. Last night was a fairly important game for both himself and his boss (Sutter) and the dude flubbed it. It'll be instructive to see what adjustments he makes (if any).