Friday, April 28, 2006

Alberta angst!

Both of Alberta’s NHL teams let a chance to take a commanding lead in their respective series slip through their fingers on Thursday night.

The Calgary Flames allowed the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to get even in their best of seven series, as they squandered an amazing third period performance by Jerome Iginla. The Calgary captain carried the offence on his back in this game, taking charge of the play and scoring two goals on J. S. Giguere, bringing his team back from a two goal deficit, only to lose the game early in the first overtime period by a score of 3-2.

Anaheim had taken a 2-0 lead in the second, spurred on by Teemu Selanne who scored his first playoff goal for 2006 in the second. Coming into the third period the Ducks became guilty of backing off on their attack a bit, which gave the Flames an opening to launch their come back, Iginla showed those flashes of brilliance that mark him as a team leader as he seemed to will the Flames back onto the score sheet.

The goaltending was of a high caliber Thursday, both Miika Kiprusoff and J. S. Giguere put on a duel for the Anaheim crowd. Giguere faced30 shots on the night while Kiprusoff had to try and fend of 27 shots over the course of the night.

The winning goal came from an unlikely source, journeyman Sean O’Donnell was the Hero of the night in Duckland as his blast from the point popped through the five hole on the Calgary goaltender, tying up the series at 1:26 of the first over time period.

Effectively a best of three series now, the Flames return home to Calgary for the first of the best of three showdown on Saturday night. If they wish to take the lead they will have to play a more physical game, refuse to surrender their end of the ice and get more shots and chances on the Anaheim net. As Teemu Selanne put it, this series is like a saloon fight, punches and counter punches night after night.

It very well could come down to a game seven and the last team standing moving on to the next round.

While the Flames were trying to put one more goal into the net in Anaheim, they’re northern cousins were learning a valuable lesson at the Rexall Centre. Keeping out of the penalty box goes a long way to keeping the Red Wings off of the scoreboard.

The Oilers took far too many undisciplined penalties Thursday night, allowing the Red Wings to set up their potent power play 13 time, 3 of which were converted into key goals on the way to a 4-2 victory.

In a game that seemed a tad inconsistent in the officiating department, the Oilers failed to realize that when the whistle is going against you, the need to play with a bit of thinking would go a long way.

You sense that the Red Wings are regaining some of their swagger as the series moves along, the Oilers with a chance to put the Red Wings behind the eight ball in game four, instead find themselves now tied at 2 wins a piece and in the uncomfortable feeling of having to now win a best of three series, something that doesn’t leave a lot of room for error over the next three games.

Smarter play in their own end and a reduction in the foolish penalties that end up haunting you will be the two points of study while they wait for the puck to drop on Saturday afternoon in Detroit.

The Oilers have opened the door for the Wings now to reclaim their status as the top team of the league. It would be best to shut it firmly on Saturday in front of what will no doubt be a wild Red Wing crowd. Giving the Red Wings any more momentum could prove to be a fatal mistake in the game plan for Edmonton. The road to Stanley now goes through Detroit, best to speed down the highway on Saturday than have to hope to drive it again in a game seven.

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