It’s all coming together

Of all the things to be excited about from Saturday’s win over the Canucks, Item 1 on my list was the way Calgary played against the Sedins. For the first time this season, the Flames were physical on Daniel and Henrik from start to finish. The d-pair that drew the twin assignment was almost always Robyn Regehr and Brad Stuart, and the forwards were usually either the Conroy line or the Yelle line.

The end result: both Sedins were a -1 with zero points.

So, essentially, Jim Playfair managed to get the matchups he wanted in a road game and neutralize the biggest threats on the ice for the opposition. Good on him. He was able to do it because, finally, he’s established a four-line, three d-pair setup that seems to work against teams playing varying styles. Here’s what we saw for the most part on the 4-0 road trip:

FORWARDS

1. Tanguay-Conroy-Iginla

2. Huselius-Langkow-Lombardi

3. Nilson-Yelle-Friesen

4. Amonte-Primeau-Ritchie

DEFENCEMEN

1. Regehr-Stuart

2. Hamrlik-Phaneuf

3. Hale-Warrener

Eric Godard, God bless him, is not a guy who’s going to spot in during the playoffs. So we’re only looking at having to insert a healthy David Moss at this point — and as good as he’s been, I’m not sure where you’d place him. Lombardi is finally looking comfortable on the wing. He needs to be on one of the top two lines to be effective, and his speed is opening up lanes and space for Daymond Langkow and Kristian Huselius. Meanwhile, it looks like Jeff Friesen has taken the Ville Nieminen spot from that great checking line in the ’04 playoffs (minus the bad penalties), and I actually like Tony Amonte as a fourth liner. He’s still a strong forechecker and energy player, which is exactly what you need on a fourth line. He just can’t finish at a Top 6 level any longer.

Wayne Primeau is too versatile to take out, which leaves Byron Ritchie’s spot — and I think that even in limited duty, he’s provided a ton of energy in the last few games that you don’t want to lose.  Bottom line is that this group is winning, and right now Moss is just a top-notch insurance policy in my books. And you know he’ll be needed as an injury replacement at some point during a long playoff run.

On the back end, David Hale has clearly solidified his spot at No. 6, while Andrei Zyuzin has been excellent spotting in for Dion Fluneuf the last two games and seems to be No. 7. I feel for Mark Giordano after the great start he had this season, but his confidence seemed to go south fast after Ference was dealt. But he’s still great to have in a depth spot, especially if you need to key in on offence from the back end.

I suppose Darren McCarty may also be ready, and with his playoff experience I think he wouldn’t hurt in five or six minutes of a fourth line role if need be. But he draws in after Moss if you ask me.

So, is this group capable of tackling any other in the Western Conference playoff picture?

Yeah, I think it is.

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~ by duncan on April 1, 2007.

3 Responses to “It’s all coming together”

  1. I honestly believe hiding Amonte on that 4th line has made a big difference.

  2. I honestly believe hiding Amonte on that 4th line has made a big difference.

    Agreed. Amonte is finally playing where he belongs.

  3. Item 1 on my list was the way Calgary played against the Sedins.

    Finally! I feel like breaking into song and dance.

    Andrei Zyuzin has been excellent spotting in for Dion Fluneuf the last two games

    I guess maybe I should have told Susan to keep up the blog too. 😀

    So, is this group capable of tackling any other in the Western Conference playoff picture?

    Yeah, I think it is.

    I detect a convert to YAY OPTIMISM!

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