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Flames In 2-0 Hole After Another Collapse
Posted By Alex Hamilton On Apr 19 2009 @ 7:21 pm In Calgary Flames | No Comments
It seemed like a virtual repeat of Game 1, only worse. The Flames came out flying and more desperate than the Blackhawks, and came up with the early lead, only to blow it and drop a heartbreaking 3-2 final. It was an even worse finish than Game 1, and now the Flames find themselves in a hole that they have not once been able to come back from in franchise history.
Much like Game 1, the Flames had more jump than the Hawks to start. Jarome Iginla, after being virtually invisible in Game 1, came out and showed some of his old dominance. The Flames finally converted on the powerplay to take a 1-0 lead – just like most Flames powerplay goals, they got lucky; Nikolai Khabibulin bobbling the puck off a point shot allowed Iginla to stuff it in. The Flames even finally got some good luck to go up 2-0. It seemed like the Flames' night until the second period hit. The Flames lost their legs in the second period and never really recovered from Jonathan Toews making it 2-1 less than a minute into the second. The Hawks just seemed to want it more, and outplayed the Flames in every important aspect. Whatever first time playoff jitters the Hawks had is probably entirely gone now. Once again, the Flames squandered their opportunity, and blew what I considered a must win game. Now they go home with a series deficit they have never been able to come back from in the history of their franchise. From a practical standpoint, though, the Hawks speed advantage is really showing right now. The Flames just have not been able to match the Hawks' crisp passes, swift attack and well-oiled machine of an offense. The loss of Robyn Regehr is proving every bit as crucial as anticipated. I have to give credit where credit is due here to Toews and the Hawks. Toews is showing why he will be one of THE players in the next decade or more right now. He is showing every bit the kind of captaincy that the Flames used to be able to rely on from Jarome Iginla and are lacking right now. His game winner with less than a minute left in the second could well prove to be the turning point in this series. And it's not only the young forwards that are helping Chicago get to a 2-0 lead. Duncan Keith, who I consider the most disgustingly underrated defenseman in the league, is shutting down Iginla as well as anyone. The Hawks third and fourth line agitators are also doing an excellent job of getting in the Flames' heads. On the other end, Eric Nystrom is the only one on the Flames' fourth line doing anything worthwhile right now. For all the domination Khabibulin is displaying right now, Miikka Kiprusoff is displaying an equal amount of mediocrity. The first goal he allowed in Game 1 was an inexcusably soft goal that killed the Flames' momentum. Toews' game winning goal may have been an atrocious defensive breakdown by the Flames – Toews broke through three defenders to the rebound unmolested – but it was also a terrible rebound by Kiprusoff. Kipper is looking worse than he did in last year's playoffs, when his bad goaltending cost the Flames Game 7. The two games so far have had a common theme for the Flames that pretty well summarizes their season – blown opportunity. The Flames head home down 2-0, a deficit they have never been able to come back from in franchise history. I managed to talk myself into thinking the Flames had some chance before the series, but I'm not sure how much longer I can keep it up. If the Flames manage to win the next two at home to tie it I might be cautiously optimistic, but right now this team looks just as mediocre as every other first round exit team they have had post-lockout. –Alex Hamilton (The one thing the Flames have going for them is this. Kipper almost single handedly stole two games at home in 2007 to tie their first round series with Detroit, and the Flames were much more woefully overmatched in that series than in this one. They were even a David Moss hit crossbar away from going to Game 7. So I'm not going to say it's impossible).
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