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Avoiding a Flame-out

Thursday, 04.12.2007 / 12:13 PM / News
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Avoiding a Flame-out
Detroit vs. Calgary, Tonight 7 p.m. on VERSUS

Tonight, the first top-seeded team hits the ice when the No. 1 seed Detroit Red Wings host the No. 8 seed Calgary Flames at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit at 7 p.m. on VERSUS.

While owning the top seed in the Western Conference is a familiar scenario for the Detroit Red Wings, it’s not a position that’s been very lucky for them the last few years. In fact, the Red Wings have found getting out of the first round of the playoffs to be an incredible challenge the last few years, no matter how high in the standings they’ve finished or how low their opponents have finished.

Last season was the most recent example of a disappointing Detroit exit when, as the No. 1 seed in the West, the Red Wings fell to No. 8 Edmonton in six games in the opening round. In 2003, the Red Wings also were erased in the Western Quarterfinals by another eventual Cup runner-up when they were bounced out of the first round by Anaheim in four-straight games. In 2004, the Wings won their fourth Presidents’ Trophy, but they were taken out by the Calgary Flames, also a Cup Finalist.

The Wings won it all in 2002, but in 2001 they also didn’t get out of the first round when the Los Angeles Kings eliminated them in six games.

With their dynasty years in the rearview mirror, the Red Wings are trying to rekindle some of the playoff magic of the past and is hoping to win again with the group of veterans that’s been intact since the 1996 championship. The vets aren’t getting any younger and this may be their last chance at hoisting the Cup again, with the same group.

Standing in the way again this spring are the Flames, a team looking to add to the line of early knockouts suffered by Detroit in recent years. With a hard-hitting defense and stingy goaltending, the Flames might be able to continue Detroit’s disappointing trend. The Flames were the only team in the West to make the playoffs while earning less then 100 points.

The Flames are led by RW Jarome Iginla, who has proved to be one of the best goal scorers out west and can also provide a physical presence necessary in the playoffs. Iginla had 94 points this season (39-55-94) and has shown flashes of dominance in the playoffs with 18 goals and 12 assists over his last two postseasons.

The goaltending in this series will likely be the difference. Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff has been fantastic in his playoff career with a 1.93 GAA in 37 playoff games. His play against the proven veteran goal scorers of Detroit will be the key in this series. Kiprusoff backstopped Calgary in their 2004 upset and is on familiar ground this season. In that year, one game kept the Flames and Kiprusoff from raising Lord Stanley’s Cup, losing in Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. They were also bounced in seven games last year in the first round of the playoffs, and this match up has all the ingredients to go the distance as well.

For Detroit, goaltender Dominik Hasek is one of the veterans who is running out of time to win another Cup. Hasek, now 42 years old, has a 2.03 GAA in 97 career playoff games, but he hasn’t seen the playoffs since the 2001-02 season. If the “Dominator” is able to play like he did five years ago, when he had six shutouts and won the Cup with the Wings in 2002, then Detroit should be able to handle the Flames offense and avoid an early exit.

NHL.com provided additional information for this article.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 44 15 12 1 27
J. Huberdeau 41 8 17 1 25
A. Ekblad 44 6 19 7 25
J. Jokinen 43 4 20 0 24
J. Hayes 36 13 7 1 20
B. Boyes 42 9 11 1 20
S. Bergenheim 33 7 9 4 16
T. Fleischmann 38 5 8 9 13
V. Trocheck 28 4 9 6 13
D. Kulikov 39 1 12 -2 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 17 10 8 .923 2.32
A. Montoya 3 4 2 .887 3.09
 
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