Five-game winning streaks are awesome. But if you’re a Calgary Flames player, fan, coach or stickboy, road victories over quality opponents are even better. The Nashville Predators are the definition of quality opponent, the class of the Western Conference so far. This is not a Smythless Edmonton or a St. Louis Blues squad without Bill Guerin and Keith Tkachuk. This is a team that, already a Stanley Cup contender, acquired perhaps the best player in the NHL when he’s healthy, Vitali Vishnevsky. And also Peter Forsberg.

But personnel-wise, top-to-bottom, the Flames should compete with this team. Never mind that the Preds have had their number since 2004, Calgary should and will have to compete with Nashville if they have any playoff hopes this season. Bottom line, this is the Flames’ biggest game this season β€” and maybe the rest of the way. They can build much-needed confidence on the road, strike fear into the hearts of every other Western Conference team, and keep pace with powerhouse ex-Flame Jeff Cowan and the Vancouver Canucks. It’s HUGE.

But hell, I’m not telling you anything you already know. It’s just that many times this season, it feels like I’m thinking obvious things that the Flames themselves don’t seem to know, so it’s nice to get it out there β€” sanity and all.

So what will be the keys?

1. Smart, aggressive play from the 5/6 D-pair. I’m confident 1-4 can handle the Preds onslaught, but whatever combo of Warrener/Zyuzin/Giordano/Hale is dressed has to make the most of their 12 minutes. Nashville has too many players who can make you pay.

2. An A+ game from Kipper. Nashville’s going to get their chances, and Miikka has to stay on his roll.

3. The Iginla line, and Jarome in particular. That third period against St. Louis has to be a full-game effort against Nashville. The leaders haven’t led on the road this season, and as great as their years have been, Daymond Langkow and Kristian Huselius aren’t going to lead the team to big road victories.

4. Jim Playfair needs to have a nice outfit. I just think he projects more confidence when he has a proper suit with a contemporary tie instead of a Darryl Sutter-special pants-and-blazer combo with a tie he bought from Moore’s in ’98. Snappy dressers like Rhett Warrener are only going to listen to a man who takes pride in his appearance. Break out the pinstripes tonight Jimmy, it’s all on you.

So, here’s hoping I can pull in the HD feed of the Preds broadcast on Centre Ice tomorrow night, and hear Terry Crisp spin some great yarns about ’89 as he tries to fill time during a third period when the outcome is already certain β€” and it’s an outcome that has us Flames fans thinking ’89 might just happen all over again.


~ by duncan on March 8, 2007.

One Response to “It’s a BIG GAME”

  1. Jim Playfair needs to have a nice outfit

    this does seem key, non ? playfair has a million dollar lineup, a six-figure paycheque (presumeably) and a sally-ann wardrobe. get it together, dude. if you look like a million bucks, your team’ll play like a million bucks…

    and i wish i had a line on all these sportsnet west/HD feeds that all my blogmates do. i have to suffer with peter maher internet radio (which was over a minute behind whatever blues feed my buddy jason was getting) or wheatsheaf action for three periods…

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