Flames-Hawks Game 1 Primer

The Flames and Hawks are set for Battle in Game 1 of their opening round playoff series

Thursday, 16.04.2009 / 12:24 PM / News
By Mike Board  - CF.com Digital Content Director
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Flames-Hawks Game 1 Primer
FLAMES LEADING SCORERS

Regular Season
Player
GP
G
A
P
Iginla 82 35 54 89
Cammalleri 81 39 43 82
Jokinen 76 29 28 57

Record: 46-30-6
Season Series: 0-3-1

vs.

Record:
46-24-12
Season Series: 4-0-0

HAWKS LEADING SCORERS

Regular Season
Player
GP
G
A
P
Havlat 81 29 48 77
Kane 80 25 45 70
Toews 82 34 35 69

GAME 1
Flames @ Hawks
6:30 p.m. MT
United Center, Chicago, Il
  TV:TSN, Radio: The Fan 960

GAME 1 MATCH-UP

It's winning time.

The Calgary Flames and Chicago Blackhawks hook up for Game 1 of their first round NHl playoff series tonight and nothing that has happened, for either team, in the last 82 games matters.

"It's like a new season starting," said goalie Miikka Kiprusoff. "Anything can happen now. Every team is at zero points. It's just go-for-the-wins time."

Calgary has had trouble beating the Hawks this season, though. Chicago took all four games in the regular season. No matter says Calgary head coach Mike Keenan. The dynamics have changed. Calgary bolstered the roster with the acquisition of Olli Jokinen and Jordan Leopold at the trade deadline while the Hawks acquired checking centre Sammy Pahlsson and the two teams have not met since then.

"There have been changes on both sides that can impact the series. For that reason I don't put too much emphasis on what happened in the regular season. The teams have changed and the circumstances have changed."

The Flames struggled down the stretch, largely because of injuries and an inability to ice a full roster because of salrary cap implications.

"If you look at the last five games, it was just bad luck. We lost players and we were not able to replace them," said Keenan. "You can't use the results from the last five games as a reflection of our team at all."

The Flames will have defenceman Dion Phaneuf back after missing the final two games of the season. As well forwards Curtis Glencross, who missed the last two games because of an infection, and Rene Bourque, out since mid-February with a high ankle sprain, are back in the line-up. It's not known whether defencemen Cory Sarich will be ready for the first game and top shutdown defenceman Robyn regehr will miss the entire first series. Still, the return of other injured players has boosted morale.

"The energy in the dressing room is great," said Glencross.

"Those guys (who have returned) are huge," said forward Eric Nystrom. "We are happy to have them back. But they can't be the only guys going. Everyone from top to bottom has to be on top of their game in the playoffs."

A couple of key Flames, Olli Jokinen and Mike Cammalleri, will play in their first-ever playoff games.

"Everybody is fresh. As a player you want to bring your best everyday. That's what we are here for. It's a matter of winning now. Nobody is worrying about how we get wins. It's about getting one more goal than them. That's all," said Jokinen.

Kiprusoff will face an old nemesis in Nikolai Khabibulin who will start in the Chicago net. Khabibulin has a 22-5-2 regular season record against the Flames and was the goalie for the Tampa Bay Lightning who defeated the Flames in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final. In that series Khabibulin had a 1.85 goals against average while Kiprusoff had a 1.72 goals against average. Both goalies recorded shutouts in the series.

The key to scoring on Khabibulin, according the Flames, is traffic.

"Khabibulin is a great goalie with a lot of experience. We're going to have to make sure we get shots to the net and get traffic in front. It's the ugly goals that win games so we have to get a lot of traffic and a lot of pucks there," said Nystrom.

The Flames had two solid days of practice before flying to Chicago on Wednesday. They feel they are ready for the noise of the United Center and the young, fast, but playoff inexperienced Hawks.

"It doesn't matter what you do in the regular season. It matters what you do in the playoffs. We get a fresh slate," said Conroy.


KEY PLAYERS

For the Flames…

Iginla

Flames forward and captain Jarome Iginla is a scorer and a power forward who isn't afraid to use his body. He will likely see plenty of Duncan Keith on the Hawks blueline. Thing is, the Flames have a strong second line, too, so the Hawks will have their hands full

For the Hawks...

Toews

Jonathan Toews, the Hawks captain, is heading into his first playoff series but he's been on a big stage before, representing Team Canada at the World Juniors. He is a composed player and the Hawks leading goal-getter this season with 34. The Flames can't give him too much room.


NOTEWORTHY
The Hawks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The two teams met in the playoffs back in 1996 with teh Hawks winning the series. That series marked the debut of a young Jarome Iginla, who joined the Flames after his Kamloops Blazers were eliminated from the WHL playoffs that season...On paper these teams are well-mtached. Both had 46 wins. The Flames had 251 goals for in the regular season, the Hawks 260..The Flames expect to play a physical game and will get it right back from the Hawks. Calgary registered 1,552 hits and the Hawks 1,520 in the regular season.
 

PREVIOUS GAMES


The Hawks won all four meetings in the regular season by a combined score of 19-7. Chicago won 6-1, 3-2 in overtime, 5-2 and 5-2 during the regular season.
QUOTABLE
We're just a bunch of guys having fun - Hawk forward Andrew Ladd, in the Calgary Herald
I think he (Miikka Kiprusoff) has been the Calgary Flames' best player by six furlongs - Flames GM Darryl Sutter, in the Calgary Herald
It's a different season, We've got a lot of experienced guys and that goes a long way in the NHL playoffs - Flames forward Eric Nystrom
THE ROSTER

D Cory Sarich (lower body), D Rhett Warrener (Shoulder), D Robyn Regehr (lower body), F Wayne Primeau (foot), D Mark Giordano (upper body) are all hurt. The closest to returning is Sarich. The Flames recalled goalie Matt Keetley from Quad City (AHL) early Thursday morning.