Series Storylines: Flames and Hawks
A look at the storylines in the Flames-Hawks first round series
Flames' Chicago Roots: A number of Calgary's management personnel and players have spent time with the Blackhawks. Flames' GM Darryl Sutter was associate coach to Mike Keenan in Chicago 1990-91 and 1991-92 -- they went to the Stanley Cup Final in their second season together. Sutter played his entire career with the Blackhawks (406 GP, 161-118-279). Flames' assistant coach Rich Preston (six seasons with the Blackhawks) and associate coach Jim Playfair (parts of two seasons) both played with Chicago. Flames' Rene Bourque, Adrian Aucoin and Jim Vandermeer all have played with the Hawks.
Season Series: The Blackhawks swept their four-game series against the Flames, outscoring Calgary, 19-7. Craig Conroy on facing the Hawks in the playoffs: "It doesn’t matter what you do in the regular season. It matters what you do in the playoffs. We get a fresh slate. It will be a new season. Whenever everyone writes you off is when teams come together."
Blackhawks' Patrick Kane on playing the Flames: “We’ve had some success against them this year, but it’s going to be a different game and they’re going to be probably more physical and geared up to play us.”
Experience Vs. Youth: Only five members of the Blackhawks were playing in the NHL the last time the Blackhawks made the playoffs in 2002 -- Brian Campbell, Martin Havlat, Nikolai Khabibulin, Sammy Pahlsson and Brent Sopel. Coach Quenneville on the matchup vs. Calgary: "They’ve got the experience, and we [with a young team that has only 10 players who have participated in a Stanley Cup playoff game] will have to learn on the job.”
Playoff experience: For Chicago, Sammy Pahlsson (64 games); Nikolai Khabibulin (57); Martin Havlat (51); Brian Campbell (47); Brent Sopel (42); Andrew Ladd (17); Cristobal Huet (13); Patrick Sharp (12), Matt Walker (4) and Ben Eager (2). Pahlsson (Anaheim, 2007), Ladd (Carolina, 2006) and Khabibulin (Tampa Bay, 2004) have won Stanley Cups. The Flames, have a wealth of playoff experience, including five players who played in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final vs. Tampa Bay: Jarome Iginla, Robin Regehr, Craig Conroy, Jordan Leopold and Miikka Kiprusoff.
Goalie Rematch: The only previous playoff meeting between Chicago's Nikolai Khabibulin and Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff occurred in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final, with Khabibulin (1.85 average, one shutout) and the Tampa Bay Lightning defeating Kiprusoff (1.72 average, one shutout) and the Flames in seven games. Khabibulin has a lifetime regular-season record of 22-5-2 record against the Flames (2.06 average, .931 save percentage).
It's Been A While: The Flames and Blackhawks have not met in a playoff series since 1996 – the year Chicago last had home ice advantage in a playoff series. It will have been 2,548 days between Stanley Cup appearances for the Blackhawks (Apr. 25, 2002 to Apr. 16, 2009).
NHL Playoff Appearance: 54th (first since 2002)
Stanley Cups: 3 (1934, 1938, 1961)
Last Playoff Series Win: 1996 (Conference Quarter-Final vs. Calgary)
All-Time Playoff Series Record: 40-50
All-Time Playoff Game Record: 188-218-5
Mar. 4: Acquired C Samuel Pahlsson, D Logan Stephenson and a conditional pick in the 2009 Entry Draft from Anaheim for D James Wisniewski and C Petri Kontiola.
The Blackhawks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and will make their second post-season appearance in the past 11 years. When they host Calgary on Apr. 16, it will mark the first time they have hosted a playoff series since 1996 (Apr. 17/96 vs. Calgary).
Chicago’s 46 wins and 104 points are the team’s most since 1992-93 (47 wins, 106 points). The Blackhawks’ reached the 100-point mark for the first time since 1992-93 and improved by 16 points over a year ago when their 88-point total left them three points shy of a playoff berth.
Chicago is the League's only team to improve on its record in each of the past four seasons --- 59 points in 2003-04; 65 points in 2005-06; 71 points in 2006-07; 88 points in 2007-08 and 104 points in 2008-09.
The Blackhawks' rebuild started less than two months after their last playoff appearance in 2002, with the selection of Duncan Keith in the second round of the 2002 Draft (54th overall). Since that time, Draft choices who are on the present day roster also have also included: Adam Burish: 2002, 282nd overall; Brent Seabrook: 2003, 14th overall; Dustin Byfuglien: 2003, 245th overall; Cam Barker: 2004, 3rd overall; Dave Bolland: 2004, 34th overall; Troy Brouwer: 2004, 214th overall; Niklas Hjalmarsson: 2005, 108th overall; Jonathan Toews: 2006, 3rd overall; and Patrick Kane: 2007, 1st overall.
A great deal of the Blackhawks’ success this season can be attributed to their play on the road -- they tied a franchise record with 22 road wins and had a 22-15-4 record away from the United Center. Last season, the Blackhawks posted a 17-18-6 mark on the road.
The Blackhawks ranked fifth in the League with a 2.51 goals-against average in 2008-09. They finished 20th in the league with a 2.82 average last season.
The Blackhawks tied for fourth in the League with an average of 3.22 goals per game this season after finishing 10th in the league in 2007-08 with an average of 2.85 goals per game.
C Jonathan Toews was named the 34th captain in Blackhawks history on July 17, making him the third-youngest player to earn that distinction in League history. The 20-year old (turns 21 on Apr. 29) will be the second-youngest captain to lead a team in the Stanley Cup playoffs (after Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby).
G Nikolai Khabibulin posted a 25-8-7 record this season, marking the 10th time in his 13-year NHL career that he has reached the 20-victory plateau. He ranked fourth among NHL goaltenders with a 2.33 goals-against average.
RW Martin Havlat led the Blackhawks with 48 assists and 77 points -- both career highs -- and ranked second on the club with 29 goals and a personal-best +29 rating.
Head coach Joel Quenneville posted a 45-22-11 mark after being named the 37th bench boss in Blackhawks history on Oct. 16. He earned his first win as Blackhawks head coach on Oct. 19 (4-2 vs. Vancouver). He has a 42-45 mark in nine career post-season appearances, reaching the second round six times.
Oct. 19: The Blackhawks recorded their first win under new head coach Joel Quenneville with a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at United Center. Quenneville was hired Oct. 15 and made his debut behind the bench in a 4-3 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues the following night.
Nov. 22: Dave Bolland scored the winning goal in overtime as the Blackhawks overcame 3-0 and 4-2 deficits to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs, 5-4, at Air Canada Centre. The goal and the win were extra special for Toronto native Bolland, who was playing in front of more than 50 friends and family on the night the home side honored Maple Leaf legend Wendel Clark.
Dec. 16: The Blackhawks continued their surge on a Western Conference road trip by handing the Edmonton Oilers a 9-2 defeat -- the most goals Edmonton has surrendered since a 9-4 loss to Los Angeles on Dec. 28, 1992. Chicago went 4-for-5 on the power play in winning a fifth consecutive game, its longest streak since 2001-02.
Dec. 28: The Blackhawks set a franchise record by recording their ninth consecutive victory, a 4-1 decision over the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The club surpassed the mark of eight consecutive victories set in December 1971 and matched in January 1981. Blackhawks forward and Minnesota native Dustin Byfuglien enjoyed a career night in his hometown, figuring in all four goals (two goals, two assists).
Apr. 3: Captain Jonathan Toews scored the game-winning goal -- his team-leading 32nd of the season -- as the Blackhawks defeated the Nashville Predators, 3-1, to clinch their first Stanley Cup Playoff berth since 2001-02.
NHL Playoff Appearance: 26th (fifth consecutive)
Stanley Cups: 1 (1989)
Last Playoff Series Win: 2004 (Conference Final vs. San Jose)
All-Time Playoff Series Record: 15-24
All-Time Playoff Game Record: 92-110
Mar. 4: Acquired C Olli Jokinen and Phoenix's 3rd-round pick in the 2009 Entry Draft from Phoenix for C Matthew Lombardi, LW Brandon Prust and Calgary's 1st-round pick in the 2009 or 2010 Entry Draft.
Mar. 4: Acquired D Jordan Leopold from Colorado for D Ryan Wilson, D Lawrence Nycholat and Montreal's 2nd-round pick in the 2009 Entry Draft (previously acquired).
The Flames qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fifth consecutive season with a 46-30-6 record for 98 points. The posted 40-plus wins and 90-plus points for the fifth consecutive season and scored 254 goals, their second-highest total since 1993-94.
The Flames made the biggest splash at the 2008-09 trade deadline Mar. 4 by acquiring C Olli Jokinen from Phoenix. Jokinen has made the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in this, his 11th NHL season. With 799 regular-season games, Jokinen's wait will have been the longest in League history when he plays in his first playoff game. Boston's Marc Savard (659 games prior to his playoff debut last year) had the longest wait prior to Jokinen, followed by Dennis Maruk, 581 games (1983); Bob Stewart, 575 (1980) and Scott Walker, 574 (2004).
Flames' coach Mike Keenan enters the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs with a career record of 94-73 (.563). His 94 playoff victories are tied for fourth on the all-time list with Pat Quinn, behind Scotty Bowman (223), Al Arbour (123) and Dick Irvin (100). Among the coaches participating in the 2009 playoffs, Keenan ('94 NY Rangers), Anaheim's Randy Carlyle (2007), Columbus' Ken Hitchcock ('99 Dallas), Detroit's Mike Babcock (2008) and the Rangers' John Tortorella ('04 Tampa Bay) have guided teams to Stanley Cup titles.
No goaltender in NHL history with the exception of New Jersey's Martin Brodeur has played more in a four-season stretch than Miikka Kiprusoff, who matched his franchise record of 76 appearances set in 2007-08. He made 74 appearances in each of 2005-06 and 2006-07. Kiprusoff led all goaltenders with 45 victories, fifth on the list for most wins in a season and just three short of the NHL-record 48 set by Brodeur in 2006-07. The only goaltenders in League history to post more wins in one season were Brodeur, Bernie Parent (47 with Philadelphia in 1973-74), Roberto Luongo (47 with Vancouver in 2006-07) and Evgeni Nabokov (46 with San Jose in 2007-08).
RW Jarome Iginla continued to re-write the Flames record book in 2008-09. Already the franchise's leader in goals with 409 and games played with 942, the Flames captain became Calgary’s all-time points leader as part of a memorable five-point night in an 8-6 loss to Tampa Bay Mar. 1. He also tallied his 400th NHL goal in that contest. Iginla scored his 35th goal Apr. 3 in a 4-1 loss at Vancouver, marking the seventh consecutive season in which he reached the 35-goal mark.
C Mike Cammalleri, an off-season trade acquisition from Los Angeles, prospered in his new locale. Cammalleri ranked second on the Flames in scoring with 82 points (39 goals, 43 assists), surpassing the career high he set with the Kings in 2006-07 (34-46--80). Cammalleri, who has appeared in 364 games over six NHL seasons, will be making his debut in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
D Dion Phaneuf was a force at both ends of the ice, punishing opponents with a team-leading 159 hits, leading NHL defensemen in shots on goal (277) and ranking fifth among all players in average ice time per game (26:31).
Oct. 23: The Flames absorbed a Nashville barrage that netted the Predators three goals in a 2:28 span in the second period -- the fastest three goals at home in franchise history -- but came up with an even better response in a see-saw 5-3 win. Captain Jarome Iginla tallied a hat trick in Calgary's four-goal third period as the Flames erased a 3-1 deficit to claim the early-season road win.
Nov. 6: The Flames raced out to a 5-0 lead early in the second period and hung on for a 7-6 victory over Nashville at the Pengrowth Saddledome. Jarome Iginla tallied four points (two goals, two assists) to spark the Flames' outburst, the first of two seven-goal games the club recorded in 2008-09.
Jan. 15: The Flames ended the San Jose Sharks' streak of 31 consecutive home games without a regulation loss, a run that stretched 11 months. A goal by Dion Phaneuf with 3:57 remaining in the third period broke a 2-2 tie in the Flames' 3-2 triumph, San Jose's first regulation loss at HP Pavilion since Feb. 14, 2008.
Mar. 5: The acquisition of center Olli Jokinen in the biggest deal at the trade deadline the previous day paid immediate dividends for the Flames in a 5-1 victory at Philadelphia. Jokinen, centering Calgary's top line with wings Jarome Iginla and Mike Cammalleri, scored twice in the first period en route to a 4-0 lead at the intermission. The trio combined for seven points in the win.
Mar. 12: In one of the wildest finishes ever seen at Joe Louis Arena, the Flames scored a 6-5 shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings. Calgary overcame a 4-2 deficit by tallying three times in a 2:02 span late in the third period, only to have the Red Wings tie the game with 42 seconds remaining. Olli Jokinen was one of two Flames to score in the shootout, adding to the two goals he scored during regulation.