I finally watched game 2 the other day and two things became evident to me: #1 the Calgary Flames can beat the San Jose Sharks, and #2 to do this they need to stay out of the penalty box.
During the first period and the first half of the 2nd period, the Flames played many minutes of dominant hockey. The forecheck was strong and caused a lot of turnovers by the Sharks in their own end. The Flames also had many great scorning chances: (Moss to Sarich on the rush, Tanguay to Iginla with 2 secs left in the 1st period, Lombardi on the rush). The fact that Nabokov was on fire was what kept the Sharks in it early on and ahead after Pavelski’s spin-around shot got through Kipper in the 2nd. Sure San Jose had their chances in the first half of the game… but that’s why the Flames have Miikka “The Great Wall of Finland” Kiprusoff.
It really became evident that the Flames need to keep out of the penalty box when they went on their 6-in-a-row penalty streak midway through the 2nd period. This 10 minute period (with about 2 full minutes down 5-3) killed the Flames momentum, and energy. To come out of this was next to impossible, and though they tried, the Flames just couldn’t pierce Nabokov’s net.
Iginla had a chance 9 mins into the 3rd period, but he did not get a good pass from Phaneuf. Then we had Owen Nolan’s point-blank shot (with 5 mins. left) that Nabokov somehow grabbed before it went in. After that save, you knew that the Flames weren’t going to score.
So for tonight’s game 3 – the Flames first home game in 15 days – the keys will be to stay out of the box and keep their ‘passion’ under control. The Flames will have to use the energy of their home crowd in the Saddledome, but they will need to play disciplined. Flames head coach Mike Keenan said it perfectly yesterday, “It’s a matter of having your players stay at a fairly steady state. The emotions are high, but they’re in check. Under control. Then they can use that energy in a positive fashion.”
If the Flames can keep their heads on and get some offense going early, they will be in a great position to win game 3 to go up 2-1 in the series.