Sunday, 15 April 2007

When You're Known For Something

Every year, teams develop a personality, and it shows over and over again in the playoffs in different situations. Whether it be a plucky team who just won't say die, or a team who scores immediately after being scored on, there is always an identity created for a team. The Calgary Flames, since Darryl Sutter has take over, have always shown a high-level of tenacity and intensity, not to mention a lot of attention paid to the defensive side of the game. Having watched Games One and Two of this opening round of the playoffs, my only question is "what the hell has happened to the Flames".

Look, I'm not blaming one guy here. It's not Iginla's fault or Conroy's fault or Kiprusoff's fault. I am blaming the team. There's no backcheck, there's no solid forecheck, there's no break-out from the defensive zone, and this is leading to Detroit's domination of the first two games. There have been too many two-on-ones and too many bad penalties. There hasn't been the upstart, hard-skating team that showed up in the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Flames.

I don't believe that guys like Martin Gelinas, Ville Niemenen, and Darren McCarty were the reason for the 2004 playoff success. They helped, but they weren't on the ice as much as guys like Conroy, Iginla, and Regehr. They battled hard, forechecked hard, and played their role well, but it seems that this year's version of the Flames are missing that edge. Maybe it's Jim Playfair's coaching style or maybe Detroit is simply that good, but it appears that the Wings are set to sweep the Flames in Calgary this week.

All I know is that the Flames have been outshot 97-35 in two games, and outscored 7-2. They've looked disoreinted and confused. My advice, if I were coaching, would be simple: skate hard, shoot the puck on net, and skate hard. If the Flames don't start creating their own chances, they won't get any. And that's where the problem lies so far.

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