Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Boiled Shark meat on the menu

Calgary was on fire from the opening face off and never really looked back. Scoring in the first twenty seconds of the game on a pinball style of shot that eluded Evgeni Nabakov, the Sharks were on their heels from the very beginning. The Flames took the play to the Sharks and were relentless in their attack, controlling the flow and exposing a weakness of Nabakov’s glove side for the majority of the game.

Shean Donovan had a particularly effective night for the Flaming C’s as he picked up three points on the way to the 4-1 Vancouver victory over the seemingly shocked San Jose Sharks. His line of Ville Niemenin and Marcus Nilson combined for six points and three of the four Flame goals as they totally dominated the Sharks whenever they were on the ice. For the Flames the game showcased the disciplined and fast moving style that head Coach Darryl Sutter has put in place for this hard working Flames club.

There were no passengers as they say on this team tonight, everyone made a contribution, whether on the score sheet, on the hit list or in the team speed category. Miikka Kiprusoff had what must have seemed like a night off as he only faced 17 shots from a San Jose team that looked totally lost in the first period and never really recovered from the fast start of the Flames.

The Sharks have quickly been given a lesson that the Canucks and Red Wings previously learned, this is one determined Flames hockey club. One which sticks to its game plan makes few mistakes and recovers quickly from any errors made.

The faithful of the Sharks were decidedly faithless as the game wound down; they booed their heroes off the ice as the first period ended and much the same reaction was given to the Sharks as they quickly exited the ice at the end of the game. Down 2-0 already in this series and showing no signs of life in this game they are in a bit of trouble now. The Flames on the other hand are playing with the kind of confidence you see when a team has come together to know what it takes to win. They take the series back to Calgary on Thursday night; a loud raucous crowd awaits them for Thursday night’s third leg of the Western final. San Jose is in the unenviable position of already being in a must win situation, another effort like that of tonight and the Flames will be on cruise control.

Sharks coach Ron Wilson put it all in perspective when he exclaimed that his team was whipped Tuesday night, giving the Flames far too much time with the puck, enough time to find a place to deposit it, four times as it turned out. Six of Wilson’s leading players never even got a shot on net, an ominous sign which has Wilson thinking of changes to his line up. And that tells the story of this series so far, Wilson now has to shuffle players in a bid to light a fire. The Flames just need to roll the lines their team burning hot towards a Stanley Cup final berth.

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