Thursday, May 04, 2006

Ducks 3, Flames 0
Anaheim wins series 4-3

"I think they outplayed us at our own game. They were the ones who continually got pucks behind us, were more physical and stuck to that. When you're playing the game in your own zone a lot of the time, it's tough."
— Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr

I unfortunately don't have a ton of time this morning, but Regehr's absolutely right: Anaheim's game was similar to Calgary's, and when it came down to it, they were the better team in more games than the Flames.

In all, Anaheim only managed to score 16 goals in the series (2.29 goals-per game) and allowed the same number (although five came in a game where Ducks netminder J-S Giguere played rather poorly). Ultimately, setting aside Game 5, Calgary managed just 11 goals in six games, and the one weakness the team had — they couldn't score — played a big factor, especially in Games 6 and 7.

The Globe and Mail had both Al Maki and Eric Duhatschek at the game, so there's quite an array of solid stuff at the newspaper's NHL playoffs site this morning. The tidbits that follow are pulled from there.

Maki starts us off:
All season long, there were concerns the Flames were a one-line team and, occasionally, a one-man scoring team. Tony Amonte didn't provide the kind of offence that was expected. It took centre Daymond Langkow months to connect with Iginla. Rookie defenceman Dion Phaneuf had his moments of glory but when the postseason began he was conspicuously edgy and often caught out of position.
Ducks winger Teemu Selanne says he thinks the Flames "ran out of gas" in the series:
“I looked to me, even in Game 6, that they ran out of gas. The way they play, it's a tough way to play. Darryl Sutter has done an unbelievable job. I know him so well. I have so much respect for that guy. That team played exactly how he wants and it's a tough team to play against, but it's a hard style to play. It takes 25 fresh legs – and if they can do that, I don't think anyone can beat them because they're so good in the battles.

“But in Game 6, you started to see little signs that they got tired. They weren't playing that pushing, aggressive style any more.”
And, finally from our pool of experts, we'll get a savvy ask-and-answer from the venerable Duhatschek:
How bad was it?

Midway through the second period, with Calgary going on its third power play of the night (compared to zero for Anaheim, up to that point), coach Darryl Sutter sent out a forward line consisting of Stephane Yelle (a four-goal scorer), Darren McCarty (a seven-goal scorer) and Kristian Huselius (a 20-goal man). In the first 65 seconds of the advantage, they couldn't even get over the Anaheim blue line. Four times, they tried and four times, they were turned away. Calgary didn't record its first second-period shot until the 12:41 mark when Bryzgalov calmly turned aside a Daymond Langkow chance.

It wasn't just that the Flames lost. They were never in it at any point in the game.
With all that said, I was glad to see Matt Fenwick at the Battle of Alberta finally conceed just how strong Scott Niedermayer was. Yes, he turns the puck over often, but that's generally due to the fact he's always on the ice and always has the puck. And, far more often than not, Niedermayer does something brilliant with it.

I said it at the beginning of the playoffs, and it still definitely holds true: Drawing the Ducks in the first round was the worst possible scenario for any of the favourites. I'd been watching this team perhaps more than any down the stretch, and they're as team-oriented a club as I've seen. That's a great trait to have in the playoffs.

With the top four seeds in the Western Conference now eliminated, I wouldn't be surprised if the 'Mighty Ducks' win the Stanley Cup.

James's pre-playoff prediction: Anaheim in 7



At 7:56 a.m., May 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

YAWN.....that was one of the most boring Game 7's i've ever witnessed.

At 12:34 p.m., May 04, 2006, Anonymous Jeff Z. said...

I don't know James, the Ducks are not that deep either, and now they just played a long hard fought series. I think the favorite in the West is actually Colorado, but for the Cup it's probably New Jersey (though Ottawa could be for real too).


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