It’s a good thing for the Calgary Flames that playoff games aren’t decided by shootouts. They lost tonight to the visiting Detroit Red Wings 2-1 after missing both attempts in the shootout.
The Flames equalled the league-leading Red Wings for the entire game without much problem. They killed off 7 penalies -including one in overtime- and tamed one of the most potently offensive teams in the NHL for 65 minutes. But they couldn’t get it done in the shootout.
Even with one of the league’s best goalies in net, the Calgary Flames have had little success in shootouts this season. They have won only 3 of 8 games that were decided in the shootout because they have had problems scoring goals after overtime.
But if tonight’s game is any indication, the Calgary Flames are looking primed for the playoffs. They are playing with energy and sticking to the style of play that is going to win them playoff games.
It’s the style of play that made Detroid Red Wings coaching consultant (and future hall of famer) Scotty Bowman say that he would rather play any team other than Calgary in the first round of the playoffs.
The Flames play a grinding, hard hitting, and merciless game. They finish their checks, they hustle, and they wear their opponents. It’s the kind of game that has other teams looking over their shoulders every time they touch the puck or go near the boards. It is the kind of play that knocked Detroit out of the playoffs last season and lead the Flames to within one win of the Stanley Cup.
And Calgary is already getting some playoff Practice.
The end of this season, more than any in the past, seems like the playoffs have already begun. The tight race in the Western Conference and the fact that teams play exclusively within their own conference for the final 35 games of the season makes for some interesting hockey action. Watching Calgary’s last 3 games seems like watching the playoffs. The team is into it, the fans are into it and the hockey is good.
Calgary now sits in first place in the NW, three points ahead of Colorado with 7 games remaining.
CGY: Phaneuf (18) A: Amonte, Kobasew
DET: Yzerman (14) A: Datsuyk
DET: 2 Datsuyk, Williams
CGY: 0 Lombardi, Iginla