They were partying on Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue Monday night, while down the highway on the Red Mile it was a nervous little feeling of giving the Ducks one more chance, one that Flames fans hope won’t be one chance too many.
Anaheim came out of the dressing room at the Pond with one thing on their minds, extending the best of seven series to its full seven games. The Ducks made a change in the nets by sitting J. S. Giguere on the bench and throwing the game and the fate of the Ducks to Ilya Bruzgalov. It would prove to be a move that had paid off nicely by games end. By the end of the night it was mission accomplished as Anaheim edged the Flames 2-1, tying up the best of seven series at three games each and forcing a game seven showdown for Wednesday night at the Saddledome.
Scott Niedermayer was dominant in game six; his goal with 5 minutes left in the third was the margin of victory, his shot off of a Corey Perry rebound, deflected in off of Flame defender Rhett Warrener to give the Ducks the winning goal. One of only two that got past Mikka Kiprusoff, who faced 30 shots in his bid to keep his Flames close to the Ducks, within a goal of sending this one into overtime.
And that almost happened as the game was winding down, at 12:36 of the third the Flames Kristian Huselius got in behind the Ducks defence and had beaten Bryzgalov, only to rattle what would have been the tying goal off the goal post. It pretty well defined the luck for the Flames for the night, who for the most part were outplayed by Anaheim throughout game six.
The two teams move on to the ultimate of NHL excitement, a game seven match with the winner moving on, the loser going home for the season. Calgary can look at one good omen on the series thus far, in each game thus far the team that has lost the last game, has bounced back to win the next one. That would give Calgary the advantage for this game seven.
However, rather than rely on blind luck and coincidence, the Flames would be better off relying on that old Flame standard, hard work. They need to return to the kind of hockey that wins them games, the hard hitting in your fact style that makes teams take notice when they hit the Saddledome ice. If the Flames can return to that type of Sutter hockey that has molded their reputation this year, then the folks on the Red Mile will be able to join their cousins on Whyte Avenue in celebration.
Should the Flames not play the style that got them to where they are, then the Red Mile will be a very quiet and lonely place by late Wednesday night. A situation that would Leave Flames fans in the hard to believe spot of having to cheer for Edmonton for the rest of the playoffs.
The fate of the Flames fans mindset rests in the hands of Iginla, Kiprusoff, Phaneuf et al, now that’s playoff pressure at its best!