Flames PK Snuffs 'Hawks #1PP for the ‘W’

CALGARY CANADA - FEBRUARY 7: Miikka Kiprusoff #34 of the Calgary Flames makes a save on Troy Brouwer #22 of the Chicago Black Hawks in third period action at Scotiabank Saddledome February 7 2011 in Calgary Alberta Canada. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)

Post-Game Summary

The Calgary Flames stormed out of the gate and dominated the ‘Hawks in a tight checking first period, allowing only three shots in the first twenty minutes. Rookie Lance Bouma fed fellow rookie Mikael Backlund for the first goal of the game and only goal of the opening frame. The Flames were pressing the ‘Hawks throughout the entire game, rarely allowing time or space to set-up or make clean passes. In the second period, the ‘Hawks feared powerplay, #1 in the NHL, got its chance to go to work three times, and all three times was snuffed by the Flames PK. Seconds after Curtis Glencross scored the go-ahead goal in the third it went to work yet again only to be killed with authority by the Flames PK.

This key win has taken the Flames into playoff position for the first time this season.  A strong game against the Stanley Cup Champions indicates that the Flames are showing no sign of breaking their winning stride despite the shoot-out disappointment against the Kings. This was an exclamation mark of a win for the Flames--who truly are in the playoff hunt from here on forward.

Analysis

The high scoring game I expected did not emerge and the game itself was a much tighter-checking game than I anticipated. It was like playoff hockey had started early. The story of this game was without a doubt the Flames PK, which played a large part in the win. When the 'Hawks had the PP, they made lightening fast passes and had several set plays going, yet it was the Flames PK and defence that stifled them with excellent stick work, breaking up passes and plays.

Although Kipper was certainly solid in net, he was not required to make the breathtaking saves we have seen him make so many times before to bring in the win. A more consistent Flames team has begun to emerge in front of him, no longer requiring him to perform miraculous saves each game. He was required to be solid, but it was the team in front of him that earned the win. An aggressive but responsible PK collapsed to protect the house in front of him when required.

Although Toews did set up the one and only goal for the Hawks, slipping a pass through JBo, both Regehr and Bouwmeester largely neutralized him for the majority of the game. Kane was consistently hit and for the entire game, the Flames showed a lot of jump, taking advantage of a Blackhawks team in the middle of a six-game road trip. 

A solid overall team win for the Flames that tells me this team has finally got it together in a sustained way and is going to push realistically for the playoffs.

My original take on the 'Hawks turned out to be an ironic one. The element I feared the most from them, their #1 PP, was their weakness as well. They rely very heavily on it and appear to even be working a little too hard on 'drawing' penalties. The call on Brent Seabrook had a rather blatant head-snap that is usually the 'tell of a sell' to the ref.

The 'Hawks spent a lot of time falling down throughout the game in what I thought was pretty soft contact. They did get 4 PP out of it but if they fail to convert they become a very beatable team. A bit of a shocking strategy of play for a Cup Champion but the reality from this game was that 5 on 5 I did not see the Hawks ever holding the edge. The Flames controlled the 5 on 5 game entirely. 

The 'Hawks frustration with the refs became blatantly evident in the final minute when Seabrook took a unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for yapping at the referee, essentially sealing the win for the Flames and allowing Rene Bourque to put in an empty net goal on an unthreatening 5 on 5 in the final minute.

The bottom line is that it was a well earned all around team win for the Flames and an ominous sign to me of a Cup Champion that may miss the playoffs.

If the Chicago Blackhawks continue to play soft 5 on 5 hockey with the hope of drawing penalties from the refs they just may miss the big dance this year. 

It is an extremely rare event for a Stanley Cup Champion to miss the playoffs the following year but it has happened before. 

Scoring Breakdown


The Flames

The BlackHawks

 

Goals

Assists

 

Goals

Assists

M. Backlund

1

0

P. Kane

1

0

C. Glencross

1

0

T. Brouwer

0

1

R. Bourque

1

0

J. Toews

0

1

O. Jokinen

0

2

 

 

 

A. Pardy

0

1

 

 

 

J. Iginla

0

1

 

 

 

R. Regehr

0

1

 

 

 

L. Bouma

0

1

 

 

 

 

Shots

Saves

 

Shots

Saves

M. Kiprusoff

23

22

C. Crawford

27

25

 

 

 

 

 


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