Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sea of Red April 15, 2008

Sea of Red April 15, 2008
Game 4: San Jose at Calgary
Playoff Blog

Young hockey players line up with Alberta, Flames, and Canadian flags. Harvey slides across to center ice to kick start one of the most impressive pre-game introductions the National Hockey League has to offer. The lights darken, the fans begin its “Go Flames Go” chant, the red glow emanates from the electronic banner circulating the rink -- bouncing off the red jerseys that fill every last seat, save for one or two in most sections. It is something to see.

“It was impressive,” says Curtis Joseph, the star of game three after he took over for Miikka Kiprusoff, who had been pulled after just three minutes. “I had a chance to skate around the warm up (before game three) and take it all in. The Sea of Red is no understatement. It’s pretty impressive.”

Just prior to the opening puck drop, San Jose’s LW tough guy Jody Shelley gives notice to Flames RW Owen Nolan and the two are reprimanded by the officials. The Sharks are fired up with having D Christian Ehrhoff back in the lineup. Coach Ron Wilson believed he would add the extra element they need.

That said, at 3:19 – early in the first, after a couple of back and forth passes back and forth in the faceoff circles, Flames RW Jarome Iginla takes the bite out of the Sharks and banks a goal – letting the shot go as he lost his balance. A rare sight to see Iginla lose his balance, but the fans erupted at the site of the goal lamp. The goal being the club’s second shot on goal. History has shown, as goes Iginla and goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, so do the Flames, but it’s early.

Wayne Primeau gives the Sharks its first power play (hooking) at 6:37. It’s unsuccessful.

Guy has a cool sign: I see red people.

Eight thirty-three left in the first and only four Sharks have shots on goal (5 in total), Marc-Edouard Vlasic has two of them.

Four forty-seven left in the period; the Flames only have two shots and are still leading the game.

The play is kind of choppy. The puck is bouncing all over the place, making it hard to keep control, which is probably why the shot count is still only 2-6 Calgary-San Jose with 2:50 left.

Jody Shelley skated by Kiprusoff and ever so casually let his stick trip him up after the play was dead. Shelley gets two for roughing at 17:18. Not sure what that proved but Wilson can’t be very pleased. A bonehead move like that only fires up the opposition.

That’s a wrap for the first. Shots still 2-6.

The Sharks drew the first shot just under a minute into the second. The Flames better get more shots or this game will be over soon. Kiprusoff held the puck after the 10th shot, seemingly to send a message to his team – “stop them in the neutral zone.”

It’s halfway through the second period and the Flames have mustered one more shot. The Sharks big guns are starting to hit the net and now, hooking to Craig Conroy at 9:43. The odds should be in San Jose’s favor.

Pretty hard to live up to the excitement and intensity from Game 3 and so far it hasn’t.

Well, you saw that coming: a power play goal by Ryane Clowe from Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton at 10:56. Thornton worked Aucoin out of the way, which looks like he may have screened Kiprusoff. The shot came from between the circles. Tie game.

Coach Ron Wilson was pleased after the game. “I think Pat Marleau has been our best player by a country mile. He’s skating, competing, leading by example, but Clowe’s a close second. He’ll be our freshest guy. Mentally, he wants to help his teammates so he’s very motivated, and I guess Calgary, with a big physical defense, he can handle anything and then dish out some, too.”

Sadly, at the timeout, a group of drummers received a larger applause than the Flames of late.

Christian Ehrhoff made the score sheet at 12:18 with a hooking penalty. At least the Flames got one shot on goal.

Not good. 4:01 left and the Flames are out shot 16-5 with no offense in sight.

Another thing, this game doesn’t seem anywhere near as physical as game three.

But – none of that matters at the moment. On the seventh shot on goal, Dion Phaneuf takes a one-timer from the face-off and banks it past Evgeni Nabokov at 18:29. Two – one Flames.

Kiprusoff makes a glove save to end the period. Total shots in favor of San Jose: 18-7 and 2-1 Flames.

Into the third, The Flames’ eighth shot seemed to hit the crossbar. Claude Rivet gives the home team a man advantage at 4:41 with a delay of game penalty.

Patrick Marleau is tripped beside the Flames’ net. It’s Craig Conroy’s second penalty of the game at 7:36. Wondering if there is another Shark player, other than Jeremy Roenick, who has faced so much bruising in his career.

The physicality of the game has certainly picked up tenfold.

Marleau tries to squeeze one in beside the lower post, but Kiprusoff’s leg held tight against it.

Calgary on another power play as Torrey Mitchell goes off at 10:18 for high sticking. Flames do pressure. Up to nine shots on goal with only 7:24 left. But Joe Thornton and Marleau are pressing, too. One can feel the tension as the whole building sits on the edge of its seats, fans holding their collective breath Calgary holds the lead. When the Jumbotron says it’s gut check time – not sure if that’s for the team or the fans.

Well, the Sharks answered back to quiet the building. Jonathan Cheechoo from Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi at 15:16.

Thirty-eight seconds to go in the third and still only 10 shots for the Flames. Then after a flurry of activity around the net, Joe Thornton ties up the series with seven seconds left in the game, giving the Sharks the 3-2 win.

“Doug Murray made a great shot and I just happened to get my stick on it. It was a pretty easy shot to take.”

Coach Wilson admits Thornton struggled mightily for two periods. “I thought we played a tremendous game. Here on the road, and a huge game, and everything about you has been questioned, you only give up 10 shots, I can’t ask for anything more. And Joe hung in there and found a way; I’m very proud of him.”

After the game, Mike Keenan wasn’t impressed with his team’s play. “I am sure that the team has to revisit their thinking in terms of offense. We didn’t go to the net nearly often enough, and we certainly didn’t shoot the puck as often as we should. We had five or six close opportunities in the first period where we missed the net completely, but when you have an opportunity to really make it difficult, we carried some play early, and then it was all San Jose after that. They completely outplayed us after we failed to really generate the offensive chances after we scored the first goal. We could have really pushed at that point. We had a couple of good chances, missed the net and then we really didn’t follow the game plan after that.”


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home