Unsung Heroes – to preface this section, I wanted to take into account guys that do a really nice job every night but in general aren’t taken into consideration the same way guys like Iginla or Lidstrom might be. These are the ‘Fernando Pisanis’ of the playoffs, or at least, the potential ones.
David Moss – first and foremost among the Calgary group. Everyone in Calgary likes Moss, but I don’t think they realize how consistent he is. He’s a 3rd line guy, but his garbage game plays really nice with Huselius and Langkow, and maybe more than anyone else on Calgary, plays a ‘playoff style’ game all year round.
Mark Giordano – Marc has been in and out of the Calgary lineup this year, but he really should be a regular. Remember ‘The Doors’ combo of Montador and Commodore of ’04? This guy could have the same type of impact, and you cannot overestimate the importance of having a reliable 3rd pairing defensive guy. Especially one that teases you with his two-way play.
Matthew Lombardi – Everyone knows Lombardi has had a decent year, but it seems as if he’s a constant whipping boy for the coaching staff (note his benching for one off game). In fact, Matthew has been one of Calgary’s most consistent guys this year. He creates a lot of chances single handily and has the potential to break a game wide open with his speed.
Robyn Regehr – While Dion Phanuef and Brad Stuart grab the headlines, Regehr puts his head down and quietly dominates. Robyn has been taken to task for his play this year, but the fact remains Robyn managed to amass the team’s most impressive +/- (+27) playing with a slew of under performing partners. He’s always willing to finish his checks, and last year he saved his top offensive performances for the playoffs.
Tomas Holmstrom – Sure, he’s heralded, but right now he’s playing at least 4th or 5th fiddle behind Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Lidstrom, Bertuzzi, Hasek, and maybe even Lang. Holmstrom just keeps doing what he does, over and over and over. 1st or 2nd in the league in terms of skill in front of the net.
Kris Draper – I think Drapes is just one of those guys, like Stephane Yelle, that has been around for so long people forget the level at which he can (or is capable of) contribute. He hasn’t yet matched his 24 goal year of a few, but his penalty killing ability, his speed, and his tenacity make him a constant threat.
Johan Franzen – although I confess I don’t know a lot about this guy, they really seem to like him over at Abel to Yzerman. Something to the effect of, if you don’t know his name now, you will by the end of the series.
Dan Cleary – As I mentioned before, Cleary was a nice rescue operation for Detroit. He has a lot of skill, and Detroit has the type of depth that the pressure on Cleary is somewhat minimal. He’ll be going up against soft D-pairings at times, so his secondary (or tertiary) scoring ability could be the difference in this series.
It’s a pretty even contest here, as I like all the guys I mentioned. The main difference between the two groups is that from Calgary there are a lot of younger guys who we don’t really know what we’re going to see from. From Detroit, we can probably guess pretty accurately what we’ll see from the players mentioned, and what we’ll see is very good, but maybe only slightly above average play. I think the guys from Calgary could have a higher top end.
It’s a bit of a shame I couldn’t get into the special teams analysis, or get to some other intangibles like home vs. away advantages, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to get it all done.
When all is said and done, this series is going to depend mostly on which Calgary team shows up. Detroit has been very consistent, we know what Detroit we’ll see, and they’re a very good team. But in my opinion, when Calgary gets its motor going, there aren’t a lot of teams that can hang with them. Unfortunately for Flames fans, Calgary rarely gets its motor going. Sometimes though the playoffs really are a new season, and this could be just the motivation Calgary needs to play at their peak.