PreGame PostUp: Anaheim @ Calgary

Posted: 03/30/2011 by bc in Uncategorized

The Stakes: The Flames flickering playoff hopes are on life support. With five games left Calgary needs to run the table to reach 97 points. Even the Flames themselves seem to be saying there’s no room for a loss. After coming back from a 3 goal deficit to take two points out of the Edmonton game Saturday, Jerome Iginla noted, “That was our playoff lives and we get to live again.”

In Flames Today, Torie Peterson writes, Tom Kostopolous said they are even more focused on their performance, and their performance alone, as the stretch drives rolls on.

Nobody cares how you win, only that you win. Consider the current status of the Flames and our Ducks. Heads up our Ducks are 3-0 with a chance to sweep the series tonight. Each of those games was decided by one goal, two in OT and one by SO. It doesn’t get any closer. Had those games gone the other way the Flames are in 6th place with 93 points while our Ducks would be 10th, five points outside the playoffs.

Perhaps just as significant is the fact that our Ducks are also 3-0 in games following a match against Calgary.  The Flames are 1-2 immediately following battling our Ducks. There is a deep emotional response from each team following head to head competition.

Our Ducks can go .500 in their remaining six games and finish with 97 points. BTW, I read somewhere recently that 97 points is enough to make the playoffs 97% of the time.

Following tonight’s tilt, Flames finish the season on the road against St. Louis and Colorado before hosting Edmonton and Vancouver. Running the table in the final five games is certainly within the realm of the possible.

The #1 Matchup: Coach Sutter gets the last change. Look for the #1 D pairing of Jay Bouwmeester and Robin Regher to go against our Ducks top line. In the last game, J-Bow took Bobby Ryan to school as Ryan got picked clean in their one on one battles. You can bet Ryan will be looking to even the score.

Keys to the Game: Feisty Randy Carlyle vs. Brent Pup Sutter is as meat and potatoes as it gets in the new NHL. These tilts are decided by who wins the majority of the one on one battles in the game within the game. In head to head competition this season their respective teams have combined for 36 PIMS and two penalty shots.  Obviously the Refs tend to let the guys play and battle. Make no mistake, Flames/Ducks games are brutal and exhausting physically.

These are tight, close checking affairs. Following games like these Retired Hockey Mom used to count the welts and bruises and try to guess when I got each one. I never knew. You tend not to feel games like this until the next morning anyway. And then you go, “Oh yeah, I remember that stick, puck, fist or elbow now.”

Look for an intense, physical battle won by the last man standing.

The Impact: For the Flames with little to no margin a win is a one down, four to go as they tighten up the race. For our Ducks, a win, especially in regulation time practically eliminates a rival from playoff competition. It’s the kind of win that can propel a team to a whole other level.

Go Ducks!

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