Miikka Kiprusoff seemed to be the only Flame on the ice Tuesday and stopped 29 shots to keep his team close. (Photo by Mike Ridewood/Getty Images)
Well, at least the Calgary Flames don't have to worry about their goaltending.
Not after Miikka Kiprusoff stood on his head against the San Jose Sharks last night. Two nights after he was pulled following an alarming start, and then watched Curtis Joseph engineer what amounted to a spectacular comeback victory, Kiprusoff was his usual dependable self. And for a while, it looked like his singular play might be enough for the Flames to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.
But when a team offers up just 10 shots in support of its goaltender, is it any wonder it loses? You know the answer to that question.
Therein lies the Flames' latest, biggest problem. First no (starting) goaltending; now no offense.
Fact is, the Flames did a pretty good job containing Sharks star Joe Thornton, right up until he scored the game-winning goal on a tip with 10 seconds remaining in regulation time. Now they have to wonder if they have awakened the giant.
Thornton has been under his usual playoff pressure and is, once again, facing questions about his ability to lead his team to the promise land. Tuesday's GWG just might be the kick-start he needed.
As for the Flames, being tied 2-2 against the Sharks is not a bad position to be in. They know they can play better than they did in Game 4, now all they have to do is go out and prove they can.
One bit of good news, defenseman Dion Phaneuf is making a positive impact with three goals and four points in four games. Coming into the playoffs he had just two goals and was minus-12 in 13 post-season games.
If you look at the penalty minutes in the Avs-Wild game - Minnesota taking 24 penalties for 91 minutes and Colorado 13 for 50 - you'd think this was a good, old-fashioned barn-burner. Trust us, it wasn't.
What it was, sadly, was a whole bunch of pushing and shoving and face-washing and phony toughness with a bunch of Colorado goals sprinkled in. The lone fight in the game, if you can call it a fight, was between the Avs' scrappy Ian Laperriere and Minny's Stephane Veilleux. Looked more like Dancing With The Stars the way the two measured each other up and then hugged.
Oh well, at least it wasn't a 3-2 OT game, like the first three games. A little emotion was nice even if it often seemed contrived. As the series extends, expect it to get a little more down and dirty.
THN.com's Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.
Mike Brophy, the co-author of the book Walking with Legends, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor on THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and his column, Double OT, appears Wednesday.
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