Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Flames Beat Detroit. Finally.
I return from the Red Sea a changed man. Prior to the start of Game 3 in the Detroit-Calgary series Calgary Flames fans had many questions, where were their beloved, gritty, pain delivering Flames? Why couldn't Jim Playfair outfox Mike Babcock? Did the Flames even want to play in the post season? Hushed whispers regarding the return of Big D to the Calgary pine could be heard in the darkest of alleys. Rumor has it, some fans spoke of miracles (did they not see the first two games? the miracle has happened, it's called Kipper).
Rushing to perch in seats (procured at the last moment by the worlds greatest fiancee) at the highest point possible in the Calgary Saddledome, I gamely inflated my thundersticks, assembled the paper helmet and gritted my teeth waiting for the puck to drop. Calgary fans brought their A game. Outside of the venue, I am sure it was a dull roar, inside it was another world. Detroit, welcome back to Calgary it's been too long.
The first period, mixed with raucous cheering, brought out the best in the Flames. They appeared settled, strong defensively and even had moments of offensive consistency. Despite an early 4 minute minor assessed to Wayne Primeau, the officials seemed content to let the boys play. Detroit, ever dangerous, showed signs of their classic blitzkrieg style but Flames defenders responded well and Kipper was ice cold and determined. A scary moment when Warrener took a Zetterberg shot to the face and dropped to the ice writhing in pain. Rhett returned in the second, thankfully. The first period closed with a curious stat, the Flames outshot the Wings.
Tangs and Lombo connected to open scoring at 9:20 in the second. In a gritty give-n-go that beat Hasek and drove him into his net. This was a nice gritty hardworking goal and a much deserved tally for Matt Lombardi. Kris Draper, answered back for the Wings converting a goofy rebound into redemption. Notably, Datsyuk and Lidstrom were oddly quiet. In his first NHL playoff experience, Giordano blasted one past Hasek on a Flames power play. Sadly, this lead was short lived as Kris Draper struck again, leveling Dion Phaneuf and capitalizing on the momentary man advantage. Personally, I felt play should have been halted and a penalty assessed for elbowing but I think the Wings have an exemption from the NHL. This period closed early as a pane of glass shattered behind Mika.
Early into the fire alarm did indeed go off. Calgary Fans are a tough bunch, a mere blaze won't keep them away from a tie game. Instead, chants of, 'The Roof! The Roof! The Roof is on Fire!" were reverberating through the Dome. This period looked evenly matched until the Captain himself out stepped a pesky Lidstrom to wire one past Hasek. Hasek looked old and busted on that play to be sure. The rest of the period was a nail biter for Calgary fans as Kipper, as always, made sure the lead was protected.
I think this was a good game for the Flames. Juice appeared composed with the puck, Tangs was back to his self and Iggy finally got on the board. With excellent efforts from secondary lines and secondary scoring I think the Flames can drag this series out if they continue to play hard. You can't underestimate the Wings, they are a great team with immense depth. I don't think JimmyP has everything dialed in yet but let's hope he can learn. And quickly. Till this game, Babcock was owning him.