Dudes: Break their Backstrom

I’m confident about tonight’s game with Minnesota, and it certainly has more to do with Calgary’s record against the Wild the past two seasons (9-3-2) than its three game winning streak and the “big road win” against Chicago.

But screw streaks and past accomplishments. The differentiator tonight, and in Thursday’s rematch, is going to be goaltending. We know Nicklas Backstrom has been absolutely out of his mind this season, and is most likely going to give up two or less. Meanwhile, speedy Minnesota is going to get multiple chances off the rush, because that’s their game — but that’s a good matchup for the Flames. Miikka Kiprusoff is better reacting to a rush than stopping the one-timer after Calgary blows D-zone coverage, as evidenced by his higher GAA in this season of defensive miscues.

Whatever happens tonight, this will be a low-scorer in the style of last week’s Nashville and Detroit victories.

The other intangible tonight is motivation. Calgary’s desperate, sure, but Minnesota has plenty to gain from a strong finish, not the least of which is the very real possibility of its first division championship — and with a superior string, perhaps even the second seed in the Western Conference. So trot out the old “who wants it more?” cliché, ’cause it’s applicable here.

The Wild’s unbelievable run lately — as the returning MetroGnome notes, they’re 18-3-3 since Feb. 3 — makes it clear they’re capable of winning any game. The TSN and Sportsnet types are starting to talk about the Wild being a “scary” playoff team, which is what they say about any WC team that gets on a run because, having not watched any significant number of western games (and I’ll exclude the actual TSN broadcast teams from this), they can’t offer much real analysis.

I don’t buy that, mostly because I don’t believe that a team with a back end that inexperienced and full of second-tier talent, can take a team to the Cup. Their six defencemen tonight will be some combination of Keith Carney, Kim Johnsson, Brent Burns, Kurtis Foster, Petteri “Shootout” Nummelin, Martin Skoula and Nick Schultz. I’d take any of Calgary’s Top 4 over every one of those players.

But hell, I thought Carolina’s D was insufficient last year, and look what happened there.

Anyway, enough of my rambly, lightly researched outlook. Enjoy more sensible and/or entertaining pre-game words from our suddenly resurgent group of Flames bloggers: Five Hole Fanatics, hit the post, double (d)ion, open. ice. hits. and Battle of Alberta.

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~ by duncan on March 27, 2007.

One Response to “Dudes: Break their Backstrom”

  1. […] the bed in the first period, but that was vintage Kipper tonight (in a goaltenders’ battle, just like I thought), and Rhett Warrener and David Hale were awfully solid. There’s a reason I changed my blog […]

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