Sunday, April 13, 2008

Calgary Flames vs. San Jose Sharks - Game 3 Preview

Having not seen the final two periods of Thursday night's game I have to say I am pleasantly suprised by the way things are going. Miikka Kipprusoff is clearly on his game, as are Iginla and Phaneuf, and the Flames have been competitive for the first three periods of the first game, and at least the first period of the second game, and the Flames end up with a split.

Forget the massive shot differential - MG did a nice job of explaining at least some of it in game 1, and game 2 was a special teams nightmare. The only real concern of the massive shot totals is that it is possible it could eventually fatigue Kipprusoff, (something I am sure the Sharks coaching staff is counting on), but if Kipper was going to fatigue I would have thought it would have been in the first group of 76 games he played during the season, many of which the team hung him out to dry. The fact is, if Kipper plays the way he's playing, the Flames will be competitive in every game this series.

The thing I like most about this series so far is that it has no resemblance whatsoever to last year's first round ass pounding by Detroit. Simply put, the Flames were totally outmatched in the first two games, and although they won game 3 and 4, they probably shouldn't have.

That said, the Sharks are currently licking their chops waiting to face Calgary at the Saddledome. While their home record finished a respectable 22-13-6, their away record is 27-10-4. Only 10 regulation losses all season, that's pretty impressive. Calgary is better at home with a 21-11-9 home record and 21-19-1 away record. Calgary better be hoping they finish it off in regulation though, holy sweet jesus , 9 OT/SO losses at home.

Of course, the Flames number 1 goal for the game will be to avoid taking penalties. They did a great job in game one, but obviously game 2 got out of hand. The Iginla call was bullshit, but that's NO REASON for a team like the Flames, composed mostly of veterans, to totally lose their composure. This is supposed to be where Calgary has an advantage; bad calls are part of the game, they're going to happen, but you can't let it change the gameplan.

The fact that Calgary wasn't blown out is very encouraging, the fact that they had several quality chances to put themselves back into the game was even more encouraging. Nabokov obviously played very well in game 2, but I am sure having an approximately 10 minute break helped keep the offensive chances down for the Flames.

Something to keep an eye on tonight is the matchups; The Flames have two ES goals while the Sharks have three ES goals. Not exactly a clear indication of who was winning the matchup war, however I will say a +1 advantage over two games isn't exactly convincing.

Game 3 starts tonight at the Saddledome, 8:00MST.

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