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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Calgary Flames at Chicago Blackhawks, Thursday April 16, 2009, 830 pm ET

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davetherave

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Calgary Flames at Chicago Blackhawks, Thursday April 16, 2009, 830 pm ET CgyCalgary at GAME OF THE NIGHT: Calgary Flames at Chicago Blackhawks, Thursday April 16, 2009, 830 pm ET ChiChicago

GAME ONE, 2009 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS WEST QUARTERFINAL

8:30 PM ET, April 16, 2009
United Center, Chicago, Illinois
TSN/Versus

Flames-Blackhawks Preview

ESPN.COM/CBSSPORTS.COM/STATS LLC

CHICAGO (AP) -- A parking lot now sits where the "Madhouse on Madison" once rested, the venerable Chicago Stadium and it's earsplitting confines. It's where
Mike Keenan once roamed behind the Blackhawks' bench.

His stint as coach from 1988-92 produced 60 playoff games, 33 postseason victories and a trip to the Stanley Cup finals in 1992.

"We had a pretty good run there, 60 playoff games in four years. You couldn't get a seat in the building and I think they've brought that back to life," Keenan said this week.

A man who has seemingly toured the NHL filling vacancies, Keenan comes back to Chicago for Thursday night's Game 1 of the opening-round playoff series as coach of the Calgary Flames.

And hockey has also returned in Chicago. Two years ago the United Center could be half-empty, but now after a complete makeover by owner Rocky Wirtz and the infusion of young players, the Blackhawks are a big draw again. And they're back in the playoffs for the first time in seven years.

"There is standing room only," Keenan said. "It's fun for the players on both teams to be involved in that kind of atmosphere."

The Blackhawks swept the Flames in four meetings during the regular season, winning by a combined 19-7 score. But the teams haven't played since early February, perhaps making that head-to-head a little less telling.

"Not to say we don't respect them. We respect their ability, yes," Keenan said. "At the same time the teams have changed and the circumstances have changed."

The Flames added center Olli Jokinen and defenseman Jordan Leopold since the teams last met. And Calgary, which flamed out down the stretch and lost a chance to win the Northwest Division title by finishing 7-11, will be healthier with the return of left wing Rene Bourqe and All-Star defenseman Dion Phaneuf from injuries.

The less experienced Blackhawks, by contrast, closed with a rush, going 6-0-1 in their final seven games of a turnaround season that featured the scoring of Martin Havlat and 20-year-old captain Jonathan Toews and the solid goaltending of veteran Nikolai Khabibulin. Khabibulin has a career 22-5-2 regular-season record against the Flames and also was in goal when Tampa Bay beat Calgary to win the Stanley Cup in 2004.

Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff won 45 games this season and had a 2.84 GAA. His matchup with Khabibulin will be a key in the series, as will Chicago's ability to contain Flames star Jarome Iginla, who had 89 points.

"He's one of those guys who is hard to defend in all situations every second he's on the ice," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said Wednesday after practice.

Keeping Iginla in check could be an assignment that falls to Sammy Pahlsson, one of the Blackhawks' late-season acquisitions, who played on a Stanley Cup winner in Anaheim and has 64 games of postseason experience.

Dealing with Chicago's speed will be a challenge for the Flames, who will also need to turn up their power play if they hope to steal one of the first two games Chicago. Over the final 10 games, Calgary was 0-for-43 on the power play.

Game 2 will be played Saturday night in Chicago before the best-of-seven series switches to the Pengrowth Saddledome -- another noisy venue -- for Game 3 on Monday and Game 4 on Wednesday.

Quenneville, who took over four games into the season after Denis Savard was fired, has brought structure, experience and tougher defense to the Hawks, who won 22 road games this season to tie a franchise record.

Quenneville knows the Flames will test his young team with a physical approach.

"We've got to expect them to come at us that way. We have to respond in- kind," he said.

"At the same time, we have to be smart at how we approach it. We want to stay out of the penalty box, but a the same time the physical part of the game is something we don't mind as well. "

Game notes:
Quenneville said RW Patrick Sharp should be ready to play Thursday night after missing the final five games with what appears to be a knee injury. Sharp scored 26 goals this season, third most on the team behind Toews (34) and Havlat (29).

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Calgary Flames at Chicago Blackhawks, Thursday April 16, 2009, 830 pm ET Flames13

davetherave

davetherave
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Basically you could say any of the games tonight qualify for GOTN, but hey, this is my pick LOL.

Should be a terrific game.

:D:

davetherave

davetherave
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Here's another take on the series by Yahoo Sports, with some fun stuff:

Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:00 pm EDT

Series Preview: Chicago Blackhawks (4) vs. Calgary Flames (5)

By Sean Leahy

Previews of this 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs' opening round, featuring cool pictures and a special guest video...

It's been eight long years since the Chicago Blackhawks have been playing hockey deep into April. Rocky Wirtz and John McDonough have changed the entire culture surrounding the franchise. Gone are the days of Rocky's father "Dollar Bill" Wirtz.

Now, the Blackhawks aren't afraid to spend, or overspend (see: Campbell, Brian), on free agents or be seen on television.

Currently in a franchise renaissance, Chicago isn't just happy to be in the playoffs after a long absence. The Hawks have been consistently towards the top half of the Western Conference all year long; whatever head coach Joel Quenneville instilled in his players, after he took over after the team's fourth game of the season, has worked.

For the Calgary Flames, they came within one game of taking home the Stanley Cup back in 2004 and haven't been past the first round since. Widely considered the trade deadline winners after picking up Olli Jokinen from Phoenix; but after a quick start, Calgary has struggled.

In the span of a month, the talk about the Flames has gone from a potential Stanley Cup parade to where Mike Cammalleri will sign over the summer. After having a 13-point lead on the Vancouver Canucks in the Northwest Division, the Flames were besieged by injuries and lost their hold on the title. Things got so bad that Calgary had to play the final five games of the season missing between one and three players due to injuries and unable to fill their lineup due to salary cap restrictions.

Two teams heading in different directions; one revigorated after exorcising some demons of their past. The other, trying to recapture the chemistry that they had after the trade deadline and with a large gorilla hanging on their back.

Season Series (Blackhawks win 4-0)
Nov 9: at Chicago 6, Calgary 1
Dec 19: Chicago 3, at Calgary 2 OT
Jan 4: at Chicago 5, Calgary 2
Feb 5: Chicago 5, at Calgary 2

Forwards (Advantage: Even)
Youth is being served in Chicago. A strong core has been built that will make sure the Blackhawks are playoff-bound for the next handful of springs. A healthy (I know, crazy!) Martin Havlat took time off from faith healing and had a career season in assists (48) and points (77). Patrick Kane and captain Jonathan Toews are the dynamic duo that put the wheels in motion for Chicago's turnaround. Kris Versteeg opened some eyes during his first full season in Chicago; and like the Blackhawks themselves, Patrick Sharp is enjoying a career revival. Despite not scoring on a penalty-kill this season, Sharp has shown he can be dangerous while shorthanded.

Getting career seasons from Curtis Glencross (40 points), David Moss (20 goals), and Rene Bourque (21 goals before he was injured) added to the scoring depth the Flames possess. Olli Jokinen was playing like a bat out of hell once he got as far away from Phoenix, scoring eight goals in his first six games with Calgary. He now enters his first NHL playoff experience on a 13-game goalless streak, having not scored since his hat trick against Toronto on March 14.

Mike Cammalleri and Jarome Iginla will be the usual scoring suspects, but can their offensive production follow them into the postseason?


Defensemen (Advantage: Even)
If you want to move the puck up the ice quickly, then Chicago's blue liners can get that job done with ease. Brian Campbell and Duncan Keith are two of the smoothest skaters around. Keith is coming into his own and is developing into one of the best young defenseman in the league. His plus-33 rating led all defensemen and was eight in the League with an average of 25:34 of ice time a night. The supporting cast of Cam Barker (40 points), Brent Seabrook (23:19 of ice time), and Matt Walker (79 PIM's) also add some toughness to protect the space around Nikolai Khabibulin.

Maybe Sean Avery's "sloppy seconds" comments got to Dion Phaneuf? The Edmonton native took a step back this season with career lows in goals (11), points (47), plus/minus (-11), and power-play goals (4), despite leading all defensemen in power-play ice time (445:52). Fourth in the NHL with a 83.4-percent penalty-kill rate thanks to the defensively minded Robyn Regehr and Cory Sarich, the Flames counter with the likes of Adrian Aucoin (10 goals, 34 points) and Jordon Leopold (7 goals, 24 points) on the offensive end.

Goalies (Advantage: Even)

When Cristobal Huet left Washington, many assumed that was the end of Nikolai Khabibulin Time in Chicago. Many joined the bandwagon after Martin Brodeur went down with an arm injury, thinking he would be dealt to New Jersey to sure up their goaltending "issue" at the time. A 25-8-7 record later, the "‘Bulin Wall" has wrestled the starting job away from Huet and heads into the playoffs on a roll winning 8 of his last 10. Huet will provide valuable depth at the position, but has played inconsistently down the stretch.

Conventional wisdom would have you believe that since Curtis McElhinney is on a one-game winning streak, and Miikka Kiprusoff has allowed six goals and lost both of his last two starts, 'Iron' Mike Keenan would go with the hot hand. Nevertheless, Keenan is going with his workhorse in Kiprusoff and hoping that he'll be able to win a playoff series; something he hasn't done since Calgary's Stanley Cup run in 2004.
Leading the league with 45 wins and reaching the 40-plus win plateau for the third time in his career, Kiprusoff will again face the questions about being overworked should he falter early in the series.

If This Series Was a Movie, It Would Be ...
The Untouchables. "They send one ours to the hospital, we send one of theirs to the morgue."

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Calgary Flames at Chicago Blackhawks, Thursday April 16, 2009, 830 pm ET Ept_sp10

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Calgary Flames at Chicago Blackhawks, Thursday April 16, 2009, 830 pm ET Ept_sp11

Power Play (Advantage: Chicago)

A ho-hum power-play unit that ranked 12th in the League at 19.3 percent, Chicago had the third-most chances with the extra man with 363; unless you have a penalty-kill that is full of the fat guys from NES Hockey, then you have a good chance at being successful.

Calgary's unit with the extra man has been all sorts of wackiness. Allowing a league-high 15 shorthanded goals, the Flames ranked 21st in the NHL with a 17 percent success-rate.

Penalty Kill (Advantage: Calgary)

Adding super-defensive forward Samuel Pahlsson at the trade deadline helped boost a sagging Chicago penalty kill that was 18th in the NHL at 80.6 percent but seventh overall with 10 short-handed goals.

The Flames have been able to balance their lack of success on the power play with the League's fourth-best penalty-kill (83.4 percent).

Fight We'd Love To See

Can we hope that this series gets testy enough that we see a captain's brawl between Jarome Iginla and Jonathan Toews? That'd turn things up a notch.

Otherwise, seeing Eric Nystrom attempt to get revenge on Adam Burish for his knockout would be fun.




Coaches (Advantage: Chicago)

Since replacing Denis Savard after the first four games of the season, Joel Quenneville has gained the trust of his players and led them to a playoff appearance. It's likely the Blackhawks would have qualified under Denis Savard based on the amount of talent in the lineup, but Quenneville's playoff experience (87 games) is what will help guide his young team in the postseason.

He may be a name-brand head coach, but Mike Keenan coached exactly seven playoffs games since he was behind the bench in St. Louis during the 1995-96 season. He failed in Vancouver. He failed in Boston. And he failed in Florida. His strict, disciplinarian tactics just do not mesh with today's player. There's a reason he hasn't lasted more than four seasons with any single team he's ever coached.

Best Player Nicknames (Advantage: Chicago)
Dustin Byfuglien is "Big Buff," not to be mistaken with former WCW wrestling Buff Bagwell. Brian Campbell is given the tired "Soupy" nickname given to anyone with the same last name, no matter if they play sports or not. "The Bulin Wall" has always been a fan and broadcaster favorite (at least when he's playing well).

Iggy Pop is hip with the kids. Big Bert causes nightmares. Kipper is just lazy. What happened to the good ole days of creative nicknames like "3 Finger", "Boom Boom", or "The Duke of Padocah"?

Home Ice (Advantage: Even)

Both have been solid at home. Chicago (24-9-8) and Calgary (27-10-4) will want to keep that going in the playoffs, especially the Flames who were 19-20-2 on the road. Winning that first game will be incredibly important for Calgary.

Essential Blogging

Windy City folks should definitely add Second City Hockey to their daily reading. Follow Adam Burish's blog via the Chicago Sun Times Web site and there's always Mouthpiece Sports featuring the foxy Sarah Spain.

Kent keeps things up-to-date at Matchsticks and Gasoline. The Battle of Alberta is always a fun read and Flames Nation is your source for the snark.

Captains (Advantage: Calgary)

"If Jarome Iginla had been captain of the Titanic, he would have talked about the great start to the voyage, how everyone came together and gave his all, even that refreshing dip in the Atlantic, which is something the team can learn from." Allan Maki, Globe and Mail.

That being said, Iginla feels that this is his best shot to win a Stanley Cup.

There's no doubt that Jonathan Toews will become a fantastic captain for the Blackhawks franchise, but when you're facing off against one the NHL's best leaders on and off the ice, it's tough to win that battle.

Pests (Advantage: Calgary)

Ben Eager is that kid in gym class who'd keep pegging people even after everyone was eliminated in dodge ball. He gets under opponents skin and won't stop. Adam Burish is a skilled expert in the art of agitation.

Dion Phaneuf isn't afraid to run someone and then stand up for himself. Cory Sarich (100 PIM) and Jim Vandermeer (108 PIM) have no problem finding trouble. When not being praised by Don Cherry, Eric Nystrom can be found dropping the gloves and finding himself in the middle of post-whistle scrums.

Potential Unsung Heroes

Kris Versteeg has been a nice story so far. Wouldn't he be a nice fit in the Boston Bruins lineup had they not dealt him for Brandon Bochenski?

Craig Conroy is a sentimental pick and was a big offensive component during the '04 Cup run (6 goals, 17 points). A few big-time goals or game-winners could put David Moss into another level.

Prediction: Blackhawks in six.

Some teams limp into the post-season, but Calgary is crawling. Olli Jokinen hasn't done anything since mid-March and the chemistry between he and Jarome Iginla and Mike Cammalleri has vanished. The power play isn't scaring anyone. And Miikka Kiprusoff could be hit with the "Are you overworked?" questions if he struggles early on.

Chicago is still a bit green to make a real shot at the Stanley Cup, but they have enough offensive weapons to overpower the Flames. Can Nikolai Khabibulin rekindle the playoff magic he discovered in 2004 with Tampa Bay?

PKC

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Calgary will wear them down. People forget that Calgary stumbled their way into the playoffs last year too and pushed a phenomenal San Jose team to the limit...

davetherave

davetherave
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PKC wrote:Calgary will wear them down. People forget that Calgary stumbled their way into the playoffs last year too and pushed a phenomenal San Jose team to the limit...

We'll see...the Flames certainly didn't show any signs of that capability in losing all four games to the Hawks this year...and I watched all of them.

SensGirl11

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We'll see if the fans are a factor too. They can always lift a team when they're down.

I still think it's the Hawks series, in 6. Prove me wrong! :D:

shabbs

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Luckily this won't be too late of a night...

GO FLAMES GO!!!

SensFan71


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shabbs wrote:Luckily this won't be too late of a night...

GO FLAMES GO!!!

unless you stay up for the SJ game, 11:00 or 11:30 start out here on the Atlantic coast.

shabbs

shabbs
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SensFan71 wrote:
shabbs wrote:Luckily this won't be too late of a night...

GO FLAMES GO!!!

unless you stay up for the SJ game, 11:00 or 11:30 start out here on the Atlantic coast.
Crap - forgot about SJ/Ducks... 10:30pm ET start...

Hmmmm...

We'll see how I'm holding up by then...

SensFan71


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shabbs wrote:
SensFan71 wrote:
shabbs wrote:Luckily this won't be too late of a night...

GO FLAMES GO!!!

unless you stay up for the SJ game, 11:00 or 11:30 start out here on the Atlantic coast.
Crap - forgot about SJ/Ducks... 10:30pm ET start...

Hmmmm...

We'll see how I'm holding up by then...

That would be the game that would go into double or triple OT as well if there is going to be one, so it might end at like 3 in the morning Laughing3

Hockeyhero22000

Hockeyhero22000
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this should be a really good game a lot of hitting and some fast paced exciting hockey probably not as grinding as in vancouver last night

davetherave

davetherave
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Hockeyhero22000 wrote:this should be a really good game a lot of hitting and some fast paced exciting hockey probably not as grinding as in vancouver last night

All the Hawks-Flames games this year have been very exciting.

:D:

The boys on both teams really skate, hit hard and have excellent goalies....

Here Come The Hawks...

:##:



Last edited by davetherave on Thu Apr 16, 2009 6:53 pm; edited 1 time in total

shabbs

shabbs
Hall of Famer
Hall of Famer
davetherave wrote:
Hockeyhero22000 wrote:this should be a really good game a lot of hitting and some fast paced exciting hockey probably not as grinding as in vancouver last night

All the Hawks-Flames games this year have been very exciting.

:D:

These boys skate, hit and have excellent goalies....

LET'S GO BLACKHAWKS!

:##:
Didn't the Hawks sweep the season series?

Hockeyhero22000

Hockeyhero22000
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yea they did

davetherave

davetherave
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shabbs wrote:
Didn't the Hawks sweep the season series?

Nobody in Chicago is taking the Flames lightly...Calgary's a proud team led by a great player.

It's a VERY special moment for the Blackhawks franchise and the fans...first playoff since 2002.

And a very special group of guys who play for each other--and not their individual stats.

:KKK:

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