Why the Flames will beat the Wings

I said it yesterday: I’m picking the Flames to win Round 1 against the Detroit Red Wings. I will admit that it’s a pick made as a fan first, and hockey observer second.

That said, I don’t think this pick makes me sound crazy — I’m certainly not the only one who thinks Detroit’s destined to fall to Calgary. And I am a guy who picked Edmonton to beat the Red Wings in the first round last season (though I wasn’t blogging then, so you’ll have to trust me on that).

I respect Detroit as a franchise and as an opponent. In fact, I think that for pure entertainment, this is the team I prefer to see face the Flames in Round 1.

I’ve already read many excellent breakdowns and compelling arguments on this series from both sides — check out Flames and Red Wings in the blogroll on the right for a mountain of great reading.

If you’ve read this blog at all (and if you haven’t, please feel free to spend some time in the archives), I have plenty of experience at explaining why the Flames will lose, and plenty of ammo fo this series as well.

  • Can inconsistent rookie coach in Jim Playfair outcoach savvy veteran Mike Babcock?
  • Calgary is without home-ice advantage and have yet to figure out a winning road game this season.
  • The Flames have difficulty playing puck-possession teams.
  • You just know Playfair will insist on giving Tony GrandpAmonte major minutes in cruicial situations, during which he’ll go offside and miss the net with shots so much you’ll think he means to do it.

But like I said, I’m picking Calgary to win the series, so enough of that crap.

Here are my Six Reasons the Flames Will Win:

1. TODD BERTUZZI
The Wings decided they needed a boost at the deadline, so GM Ken Holland made deals for the Flyers’ underachieving Kyle Calder, and professional asshole Todd Bertuzzi. Yeah, yeah, I can hear you now: “Gee Duncan, haven’t heard that one before. Can’t you just leave the past behind with Todd? It’s a new day!” Thing is, with Bertuzzi I don’t think there will ever be a new day. Forget about Steve Moore and that he’s proven to be an irresponsible human being. Todd Bertuzzi is a selfish player, and it only gets worse in the playoffs. He takes bad penalties. Horrible, horrible penalties. He says things to the media to draw attention to himself, even if he says he doesn’t want the attention. He promises victory to crowds of Minnesota Wild fans, and we all know how that turned out. He sulks when things don’t go well, then takes more penalties. Forget “motivation” and “something to prove,” because a dog like that has to have his bone. Detroit will have an easier time winning this series if Bertuzzi can’t return from his concussion.

2. MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF
Firstly, Kipper’s clearly on some kind of mission, as he’s joined Darren McCarty in some kind of brotherhood of black hair. And Kipper on a mission is scary, because most of the time he just shrugs his shoulders and heads out to smoke a fag with Dion Phaneuf.

Seriously, and this isn’t just a Flames fan talking, I think Kipper is more capable of a 26-game run of excellence than any other goaltender in the league — including Roberto Luongo, who every eastern pundit is in love with despite never seeing him play. Miikka, along with all his technical skills, is first and foremost unflappable. And if you’re a goalie, that can be the differentiator in the playoffs.

3. CRAIG CONROY
This blog’s favourite player is just the leader the Flames needed to run shotgun with Jarome Iginla. As incredible as Iggy is, he couldn’t do it alone — and Games 6 and 7 against Anaheim during the 2006 playoffs, which were nothing short than a complete collapse for Calgary, proved it. Craig Conroy is the perfect compliment to Jarome Iginla, and is the kind of light touch needed on the bench when Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom start looking like the best players of all time.

4. PAVEL DATSYUK CAN’T PLAY IN THE POST-SEASON

Regular season: 363 GP, 108-220-328, +84

Playoffs: 42 GP, 3-12-15, -1

You’re a big talent and when you’re on, you’re as on as anyone in the league. In the playoffs, you’ve been off, and I expect you’ll be off until you prove you’re capable of something else.

5. THE SEA OF RED
Last I checked, good tickets were still available at the Joe. That ain’t the case in Calgary, and it won’t be as long as that team is still in the playoffs. And even if Detroit wears red, you’d have to be the Spartans from 300 to not be intimidated by that crowd at its best.

And finally …

6. THE RED WINGS AREN’T AS GREAT AS THEIR RECORD INDICATES
And they weren’t last year, either, which is why I called that Oilers win. If I had only one minute to explain why the Red Wings will have fits in Round 1, it’s this: They play more than a quarter of their games against Central Division pals the St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets. And don’t give me that crap about “tough divisional games” and “St. Louis was great after Andy Murray took over.” Those teams are terrible. Detroit’s record against teams in the Central Division teams this season? A ridiculous 22-4-6.

The Flames, meanwhile, got a total of eight divisional games against a sub-,500 club — los Oilers — and that team didn’t suck until the trade deadline. Calgary was still 17-12-3 against the Northwest.

It’s not just about the points in those games, either. A tough game against a divisional rival can take a hard physical and mental toll on a team, and affect it in surrounding games. An easy game can make a rest day really feel like a rest day, and a preparation day just a little bit easier.

The Northwest Division, in other words, is a place where you can prepare for the playoffs. The Central? A place where you finish first in the conference, then lose to the Flames in six games.

Enjoy the series. I’ll make the rest of my playoff predictions tomorrow, and take a closer look at the lineups and matchups before Game 1 on Thursday.

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~ by duncan on April 11, 2007.

17 Responses to “Why the Flames will beat the Wings”

  1. Good stuff and I agree on all fronts. Especially in regards to that scumbag Bertuzzi.

  2. Duncan,

    I agree that Bertuzzi could be decisive, but for different reasons. If he’s healthy, I think he has something to prove and will be a force. If not, the Wings lose that element.

    As for Kiprusoff, he scares the crap out of me, but the Wings have a pretty good goaltender themselves. That category is a draw. Also, Luongo played his whole career in the East so “eastern pundits” have seen him play many times and have knowledge to back up the hype.

    Pavel Datsyuk is going to surprise a lot of people this postseason. Last year, he wasn’t healthy going in, but this time around, he is and I think he’s going to tear it up, regardless of what Regehr says. When Steve Yzerman predicts playoff success for Pavel, I’m willing to believe it’ll happen. He and Henrik Zetterberg are going to be huge.

    No argument on the crowd. The Wings will be very hard pressed to win in Calgary, that’s for sure. I’ll just point out, though, that tickets in Detroit are extremely expensive and with Michigan’s economy the way it is, it’s not surprising fewer people want to pay US$68 for a standing room ticket. Even so, I’m told 14,000 of the 17,000 season ticket holders paid up. A lot of hockey markets would kill to have those numbers.

    Lastly, the argument that the Wings’ record is misleading because they’re in the Central is no longer original and has become very tiresome. Comparatively speaking, the Flames have a very similar record against Central Division teams, and I don’t hear Flames fans talking about discounting those 11 wins. The Wings’ 9-5-6 record against the Northwest is worrisome, but head-to-head this season, they came out even with the Flames, which is what matters here.

    It’s difficult to compare teams across divisions these days. It’s easier to compare personnel, like you did in the first few points of your post. These teams are pretty evenly matched, I think, with one team’s strengths in one area offset by the others in another area. No one can say with any certainty which way this series will go, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. That’s why I say Wings in 5.

  3. Hi Matt, thanks for the response — I love this kind of debate! Makes the games more interesting …

    I don’t think Kiprusoff-Hasek is a draw, not anymore. There isn’t a team in the league that wouldn’t want Kipper over Hasek at this point, and that’s not to say Hasek isn’t capable of stealing a series, or even a Stanley Cup. I just think Kiprusoff’s a better bet at this stage in his career.

    As for Datsyuk, the prospect of him being a force scares me silly. Only point I’m making is that at this point, it’s a prospect — and Zetterberg has been hurting, so he’s no sure thing either.

    As for the divisional comparison, I’m sure I’d be tired of hearing it if I was a Wings fan, too. But just because an argument isn’t original doesn’t mean it’s not accurate. A four-game head-to-head, to me, isn’t as telling as a 32-game portion of an entire regular season. Yeah, the Flames scored 11 wins against the Central, but that’s on a 20-game sample size only. And yeah, I will discount those 11 wins as being cheaper than some others, and have all year. Wins over St. Louis don’t feel that super — and losses to Chicago feel horrible.

  4. There isn’t a team in the league that wouldn’t want Kipper over Hasek at this point

    I’ll give you that. But that’s more a function of Dom’s age than anything else. I don’t even Kiprusoff at his best isn’t yet as good as the Dominator at his peak. Of course, that debate is academic, because they didn’t hit their peaks at the same time. You’re right, Kipper may be better at this point, but this is key:

    … that’s not to say Hasek isn’t capable of stealing a series, or even a Stanley Cup.

    At this point, that’s what matters. Both goalies are capable of doing both of those things. So, they’re even there, for all practical purposes. Any advantage Kipper has is largely negated, I think, by the Wings arguably better supporting cast. That cast will make the difference when both goalies are playing top flight hockey.

    You have no doubt that Jarome Iginla will perform in the playoffs, right? Or Sidney Crosby or any of the other stars, correct? Well, I think the same goes for Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, who are stars of similar caliber, though they don’t get as much press. Henrik Zetterberg had six goals in six games last postseason and Pavel Datsyuk was playing hurt to start, but was just getting warmed up as the series was brought to an end. Now, neither of them single-handedly won the series for the Wings, but I didn’t see anyone do that against the Oilers last year.

    Of course, the pundits could be right and Pavel, at least, could be a bust because, as you say, right now it’s only a prospect. Still, I think both of them, and Zetterberg in particular, are big game players and this is the year they’re going to prove it.

    Okay, you may not be as impressed with wins over Central Division teams, but you’re not going around saying the team should have those games docked from its record (which is what you’re saying, in effect, if you assert the Wings’ record lies). Every team plays bad teams throughout the season and the fact that the Wings played a higher number of them doesn’t change that. They acquitted themselves pretty well against non-Central teams, I can tell you that, so it’s not like all their wins came against those teams and they just squeaked in on the 8th seed. I just think it’s a pretty shallow perspective to look at them purely through the Central Division lens. You take wins over the good teams and the bad teams. The Wings have them over both, as well as losses to both, just like any other team.

    I see very few people talking Nashville down because they’re in the Central. Personally, I think the presence of the Preds alone in the Division ought to silence at least some of the whining about the Wings’ schedule. The Predators are one of the best teams in the league and the Wings won that season series 6-2. That ought to be worth something. Even relatively speaking, it’s better than the Flames’ 1-3 record against the Preds.

  5. whoah…. are you guys gonna fistfight ?
    😉

  6. bah…this is a friendly little chat compared to some of the “comments battles” I’ve had with friend over at FHF.

    Though, granted, these are some of the LONGEST comments I’ve ever seen.

  7. […] at the Flames Blog has six reasons why he is going with his favorite team, Calgary, to win the series: 3. CRAIG CONROY […]

  8. Though, granted, these are some of the LONGEST comments I’ve ever seen.
    It’s my fault. I’m longwinded by nature.

    Matt:
    1. Hasek and Kipper are both capable. Kipper is more capable at this stage in his career.

    2. I do have doubt in some of Calgary’s stars, Dion Phaneuf in particular — because of his poor performance last year. Yeah, he had a broken foot. But I have nothing to show me that he’s going to be any better healthy, nor do I know how bad his foot really was last year.

    3. The Flames just suck against Nashville, and have for years. Bad matchup. But I’ll make the same comments about their record, and I’m picking San Jose to beat them partially because of it. It’s an equal opportunity argument.

    Anyway, you can trust me on this when it comes to my take on the Central: If I’m proven wrong, I’ll be the first to admit my mistake.

  9. […] I think I’ve covered this one. […]

  10. […] bloggers: Open Ice Hits Flames Blog Five Hole Fanatics The Real Deal (forwards, coaching, […]

  11. […] said all I need to say on what I think about Bertuzzi, and why I’m pretty sure he’s only going to hurt the […]

  12. 3 of your 6 reasons are bunk, and here’s why.

    #1 (Bertuzzi) – his past is his past. what you are apparently unaware of is the Wings’ ability to bring players into the fold and turn them into responsible, selfless, team-oriented winners. as a 20 year fan I have seen it time and time again.

    #4 (Datsyuk) – do I really have to say anything about this one? he just had his best year (while not having Zetterberg for much of it), and he dominates every time he’s on the ice. now he’s got Zetterberg back, and two goals in two games.

    #6 (Central Division foes) – I get so sick of hearing this crap. part of the reason St. Louis, Chicago, and Columbus have such horrible records is because they have to play two of the best teams in the league so much – Nashville and Detroit. everybody says “they suck that’s why the Wings always win” – well how about looking at the other side of the coin? Detroit and Nashville are great, that’s why they win against the other three division teams. also, Detroit plays up (and down) to opponents. one only has to look at their loss to Chicago vs their win against Anaheim.

  13. So, in other words, the three reasons that refer to negatives about the Wings and not positives about the Flames?

    I kid, but as an obvious Wings fan Paul, what failings do the Wings have that might allow Calgary to come back in this series?

  14. […] the interaction and sharing of emotion that has followed has been a true pleasure. Matt and I had a back-and-forth in a comments string here early in the series, and it was invigorating because it allowed me direct […]

  15. […] have fun anyway! Last year in this space at about this time, I wrote an entry called “Why the Flames will beat the Wings” that has become my most-read entry ever, kicked off a great first-round dialogue with a very […]

  16. haha flames lost, they suck

  17. suck my dick all the flames SUCKKK bouwemiester has blown dick
    all year

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