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THE FAR SIDE OF THE POND: Stomping out the Flames

By:
04/27/2009 10:25 AM -

By Chad Huebner

So here we are, a possible ending to the series that I predicted, but didn’t really want to have happen. Huh? I mean, it’s always easier to clinch a series at home. There’s no Dion Phaneuf tonight (whew!) but Iginla and Kippy will bounce back, the fans will help the Flames bounce back, and don’t expect the ‘Hawks to get the favorable bounces a second straight game. Put the hammer down, and maintain poise while staying out of the penalty box (that’s a tricky one to do). The ‘Hawks can’t go into this game with the mindset that if they don’t win tonight, there’s always Game 7 at home, because the game’s already lost before the puck’s dropped. They must not think failure or all will be lost. Whoa, sounded like Yoda for a second there, let’s go the highlights.

PRE-GAME STUFF

Crowd a massive sea of red that threatens to drown the ‘Hawks (even though the red and black are copies of our colors), check. Another rousing rendition of the Canadian National Anthem that brings shivers down my spine, check. Picture of Jessica Biel in a string bikini to take my mind off the game if things go bad, check and mate.

I’m just kidding folks. It’s really a picture of Olivia Munn.

(I didn’t just write all of that on the fly, as I saw it. I’m so used to watching a game in Calgary by now that I just figured this is the way things will start. It’s been a winning formula for the Flames so far, why change things now? Lucky bastards.)

So Dion’s gone, hope the ‘Hawks can take advantage of this. You’d think all it’d take is a body or two in front of Kippy, but the Flames have been depleted on the blueline heading into this game, and it hasn’t made that much of a difference. There’s that ex-‘Hawks factor again as Anders Eriksson will take Phaneuf’s spot. You might remember Eriksson as the guy the ‘Hawks got in the trade with the Detroit Red Wings for Chelly.

My face is turning as red as the Flames crowd and my fingers are shaking and I don’t think it’s because of the AMP I’m drinking, so I better stop thinking about that trade (if you call it that; “blatant robbery” is what I call it).

1ST PERIOD

Oh great, Foley just said that the six times Kippy was pulled during the regular season, he was 6-0 in the games following his in-game removals. Thanks, Pat, I wasn’t enough of a bundle of nerves.

A chorus of boos must mean the Flames committed a penalty, this time it was Bertuzzi. If it wasn’t for all the pushing and shoving after plays around the net, you wouldn’t know he was playing.

CHA-CHING! A Cam Barker redirect off Big Buff back to the Kaner and a wide-open net: such a glorious and rare opportunity in the playoffs! I believe that puts Barker into the team scoring lead, and if there was a playoff version of the Norris Trophy, he’d be a lock. Now let’s make it 2-0, or 3-0. Or just to be on the safe side, 8-0. Yeah, that should do it.

Hmm, they gave one of the two assists to Kris Versteeg. I don’t have the replay right now, but I swear Barker started the whole sequence. Ah well, Barker will eventually get another point, and I still think he’s the best offensive defenseman in the playoffs.

‘Hawks weather a couple of butt-clenching moments (including a shot ringing off the far post), thanks to the Bulin Wall standing solid. Or really, he crouches most of the time. Then there are those times he’s lying on his back. You know what? He’s just solid, man!

So close! After Sammy Pahlsson makes a charge on net, the puck’s just sitting there five feet to the left of Kippy, and Big Buff had a chance to pop it in. Shot goes wide, and about a minute later he gets whistled for a penalty. The karma gods were NOT smiling on him in that moment.

(Note: this is me at the 1st Intermission going back in time to this moment to say I saw the replay, and Cammalleri of the Flames hit Buff’s stick before the shot, so it wasn’t really Buff’s fault. Okay, better climb into the Delorean and go back to the future* before I frak up the whole time-space thing.

*not a copyrighted term.

Nice PK by the ‘Hawks with some long clears and some timely poke-checking. Love to see the fourth line roughing up the other team’s PP squad.

After the ‘Hawks spend a ton of time in their own zone, Big Buff zips out of there with the puck and goes around the net. He lays the puck for an equally zipping Adam Burish coming down the middle for a 2-0 lead.

That’s right, I said zip. They both can put on the afterburners.

I figured the ‘Hawks needed to score twice or three times before the Flames did to tip the game solidly in their favor, I just didn’t think it was possible. Crowd’s quiet for the most part. Can this be? Can we make the Saddledome sore?

(Yep, that joke was a bit of a stretch.)

Sweet backhand pass from Iginla to Jokinen, Jokinen streaks in on Bulin with Seabs closing in at the last second and. . . nope, not this time. Bulin no foolin’.

Flames are going with the old tried and true strategy of sending the puck in the corners, then passing it out to the slot for a shot attempt. That would normally work, if the ‘Hawks didn’t jam the middle with bodies. Good counterattack.

Toews doesn’t quite have the Playoff Beard, but he’s sporting some long sideburns, almost like mutton chops. He looks a bit like a frontiersman, like Davy Crockett.

John-ny! John-ny Toews,
King of the Sad-dle Dome!!!!


After that little ditty, it’s time to take a break. ‘Hawks have the Flames on the run, but they can’t let up. There’ll be a forecast of cheap hits after the whistle, followed by bangs along the boards for the rest of the game.

2ND PERIOD

Stats say Bulin stopped 16 shots in the first, though it didn’t seem like that many shots were taken. There were a few quality shot attempts, but not that many. It’s a great situation for the ‘Hawks were the offense compliments the goaltending and vice versa.

Dave Bolland gets called for the early penalty, even though the replay shows that Glencross of the Flames could’ve been called for holding and Moss could’ve been called for tripping before that. The Moss trip was the more obvious of the two non-calls. Anyway, another relatively easy PK for the ‘Hawks.

Bulin should kiss the goalposts, if it wasn’t for the risk of his lips freezing to them. Another ringer off the post, another close call averted.

Too much time in the ‘Hawks zone=a greater chance they’ll commit penalties. Another PP to snuff out. Enough mad stick waving in front of Bulin to shake a. . . well, you know. . . but he manages to make a blind save. Are we sure Rutger Hauer’s character from “Blind Fury” isn’t in net?

7:30 gone in the second. All the ‘Hawks have to do is melt the clock.

Okay, all they really have to do is melt the clock and add another goal or two.

Okay, no, all they really REALLY have to do is melt the clock, add another goal or two and stay out of the penalty box the rest of the game.

And maybe put more shots on goal. Grrrr, I give up.

No really, put some more shots on goal (down 8-1 in this period and 24-8 in the game so far). Again, it doesn’t seem like the Flames are shooting that much. Okay, besides the PP situations.

Flames are doing everything short of digging a hole in the ice to get to puck underneath Bulin, but again, Bulin=Solid.

Oopsie, Calgary has six players on the ice, which is one more than the maximum (and it wasn’t even close). At the very least, the ‘Hawks can melt a couple of more minutes off the clock.

But at the very best, a Brian Campbell knuckler shot sails past Kippy’s glove side to make it 3-0. Crowd is very, very quiet, and they’re not hunting wabbits.

(Huh? Obtuse Bugs Bunny reference. Oooookay.)

So let’s see. Flames have 33 shots after two periods, 0 goals. Zero. ‘Hawks have 11 shots, 3 goals, two of which were on the PP. That “sea of red” must be feeling a bit blue right now.

3RD PERIOD

Play your game.

It was true when Herbie said it during the 1980 Olympic run; it’s true now for the ‘Hawks. Man, I miss Brooksie. Hockey could always use a generous dose of him.

Well, it’s no longer a shutout for Bulin. Of all people, Bertuzzi gets the Flames on the scoreboard with a shot that ricochets in the net, a weird-looking shot. Does this open the floodgates, or is it false hope for the Flames? Just hang on, ‘Hawks, hang on . . . AND KEEP THE FRAKKING PUCK OUT OF YOUR FRAKKING ZONE ANY-FRAKKING-WAY POSSIBLE!

‘Hawks aren’t listening to me so far (their forechecking is a fond memory). Either they’re gassed or they already think they have this sewn up. If it’s the latter, BIIIIIIIIG mistake.

Five minutes to go; Flames are in full “now or never” mode. If the ‘Hawks thought they were seeing a lot of action in their part of the rink so far, they’ll probably see the most in these final minutes than they’ve ever seen in their young, professional careers.

Three minutes to go. Clock’s moving slower than John McCain on Valium.

2:23 left, Flames pull Kippy. I THINK I can, I THINK I can, I THINK I can. .

1
7 seconds to go, ‘Hawks ice the puck. Kippy has to come back in for the faceoff. Calgary winning a majority of them, but so what, who cares.
Kippy goes off with 35 seconds left. Cmon, cmon, cmon, cmooooonnnnnnnn. . .


And Big Buff puts the game away with an empty netter with 4.7 seconds left!

Ahem, excuse me for a second, this is a big moment for me. . .

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

All those years of following this team; all those years of watching them fail on an epic scale; and all those years where I supported the team, but hated the organ-I-zation that pinched pennies, let stars leave without any compensation and in general sometimes made me miserable to be a ‘Hawks fan, are justified by this one moment. My beloved Chicago Blackhawks won a playoff series for the first time since 1996, the year before I started watching them on a regular basis. I’ve seen many teams shake hands many times over the years, now it finally means something special to me!

Yeah, yeah, it’s only one round and there’s still a lot of playoff hockey to be played and they’ll play against the Canucks (who beat the ‘Hawks soundly in their last two meetings). But you know what? That’s later. Let us enjoy the moment.

Remember; e-mail me at chadhuebner1972@yahoo.com for anything on your mind. Best responses and/or questions will be answered publicly.



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