The Calgary Flames won their 4th game in a row tonight for the first time since early January when they strung together 5 straight victories.
Mikka Kiprusoff blanked the Ottawa Senators 2-0, for his 4th shutout of the season and his first since November 30th; when he shutout the Nashville Predators 5-0. Kiprusoff was sharp all night long as he blocked all 33 shots the Sens through at him. Not to mention the 5 different power-plays that Kipper helped shoo away.
It was vintage Kipper, and in a way, vintage (vintage being 2004) Flames hockey.
The Flames were on the board early with Jamal Mayers’ first career goal as a Flame; a nice short-side-cheese snipe show. Due in part to a savvy dump-in and some nice fore-checking from Curtis Glencross, the Flames managed to get ahead early in the first period.
From there, the Flames sort of just hung on and relied on Kipper to make the timely save, or so it seemed. Much like the hockey Flames fans watched in 2004, the Flames clung to the one goal lead like the lives depended on it; and in a way it did. With the Red Wings posting a win earlier in the night, the Flames were aware they needed to hold serve and they did just that in beating the team from the nation’s capital.
It is amazing how much one week can change things. Last Thursday this Flames team was left for dead by almost everybody, including me, and being ripped apart for the moves they made at the trade deadline. Fast forward to tonight and the Flames have reeled off 4 straight victories and sit in a tie for 7th place in the Western Conference standings. After being harped on for not scoring any goals, they go out and pot sixteen goals in four games; something they have not done since October.
It is not as if they beat up on bad teams either. They took down the Devils (4th in the East), the Wild (21-9-3 at home), the Wings (Fighting with the Flames for 8th) and now the Senators (5th in the East).
I am still not convinced that this team is good enough to make any sort of elongated deep run, but they are making believers out of me that the Playoffs might be on the horizon.
Side notes: Kotalik has become invisible since coming over from the Rangers. 1 goal, 1 assist, and a -1. Not exactly getting what we paid for. He also is no longer on the point on the powerplay. This could have been due to the tightness of the game tonight, but maybe someone can help me on this one as I have missed the last couple of games.
Higgins on the other hand has come alive offensively, sort of. He has 3 points in his last 4 games, including 2 goals.
The top line of Iginla, Stajan and Bourque were shutdown tonight for the first time since being brought together. Before tonight, each player had individual 3 games point streaks going.
The Flames travel to Vancouver for a Sunday night tilt against the division leaders before flying home to face the Red Wings on Monday night. Like I have said in previous blogs, each game becomes the biggest game of the year and these two are no exception.
This has been,
Newman on the Flames
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