This game went much as everyone expected: it was physical, even tougher than the previous games as the rivalry between the two teams grows.
The amount of collisions and the force with which body contacts were made by both teams is a clear indication that these teams do not like each other. Pierre McGuire has been quoted several times saying things like “the Blackhawks, might be doing to much trash talking” or that “this has to stop” and implying that “the nature of trash talking is classles.”
I know that part of the Hawks gameplan was to pick at Dion Phaneuf, in previous match-ups constant talk about his girlfriend – threw him off his game, in the past if it was one guy Dion would just pound him but a whole team? It's working Dion has been nearly invisible in this series with the exception of the Eager tie up last night his series thus far has been less than memorable.
The second part of this plan was to bump Iggy and Kipper, any chance the Hawks get they'll take the hit, even before playing the puck and again popular or not it is effective – Mike Keenan has complained after both previous games about goaltender contact and Iginla has been kept at bay and last night looked ready to fight anyone, not exactly his normal focus.
What the Flames Did Differently
Calgary where better in a few areas and that ensured their victory. Miika Kiprusoff played great instead of just good and Nikolai Khabibulin did the opposite. The Flames were also very good down low trapping the Blackhawks in their own zone most often with the puck behind the goal line they were able to establish pressure and capatalize. Also Khabby has not been bothered by traffiic, despite it being there at times but did have trouble moving East – West, giving up a weak goal on a wrap around and another tipped goal whilst on the move.
Areas to Improve
Defensive zone breakouts, the Blackhawks had trouble getting the puck out of their own zone often turning it over really because of two reasons – indecision with the puck, several times defenseman either went behind the net to play the puck and took to long to make the first pass or whilst breaking out of the zone telegraphed their pass by visually locking onto it's intende target.
It is not all the defense's fault though the forwards have to commit to coming back to help in the defnesive zone and regularly seemed to far up the ice on breakouts out of the zone – too many icings, or passes broken up in the neutral zone as too many longish passes were attempted.
The last are of improvement is faceoff's, the Hawks had a an awful night in the circle and also lost the puck possesion battle.
Dustin Byfuglien – Buff has credited Sami Pahlsson with his recent play, whatever the catalyst Buff has played amazing he is all over the ice hitting like a freight train and is a load to handle down low for the Flames often winning puck battles.
Cam Barker – forget last night's performance and imagine that every night, it was a tough decision for the organization to let go of James Wisniewski ad keep Cam (providing he resigns) but the decison by Dale Tallon has to be considered the right one given the way he is playing.
About the Author
Written by Terry Shilton