Flames Win Game One

The Calgary Flames came out faster and stronger than the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night, scoring early and often to earn a 4-1 win in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals. With the win, Calgary takes a 1-0 lead in the series and Tampa Bay loses their home-ice advantage.

Martin Gelinas, one of Calgary’s postseason heroes thus far, opened the game’s scoring just 3:02 into the game. Flames’ captain Jarome Iginla scored shorthanded with under five minutes remaining in the second period to put Calgary up by two. Less than three minutes later, Stephane Yelle gave Calgary a three-goal lead.

Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis scored a power play goal early in the third period to put the Lightning on the board but it wasn’t enough.

Calgary’s Chris Simon scored while the Flames had a two-man advantage in the final minute of the game to close out the scoring.

It is the third time this postseason that the Flames have won Game One of a series.

Game Two is Thursday night in Tampa.

Flames Advance to Cup Finals

The Calgary Flames will return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since they won the Cup in 1989, having defeated the San Jose Sharks, four games to two, in the Western Conference Finals.

The Flames held a 3-2 series lead heading into Wednesday’s Game Six in Calgary. The road team had won each of the first five games of the series but the Flames were able to finish off the Sharks at home with a 3-1 victory.

San Jose scored only one goal in Games Five and Six combined. It was the only goal allowed by Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff in Games Five and Six of the last two rounds, after he held the Detroit Red Wings scoreless in those games during the second round.

Captain Jarome Iginla and Martin Gelinas scored for the Flames, who also got a late goal from San Jose’s Alexander Korolyuk when his pass from behind the Calgary net missed its mark and slid all the way down the ice into the empty Sharks’ net. The goal was credited to Robyn Regher, the last Flame to touch the puck.

Sixth-seeded Calgary has now pulled off an upset in every round of the playoffs, defeating #3 Vancouver in the first round, #1 Detroit in the second, and #2 San Jose in the Western Conference Finals. In doing so, the Flames eliminated each of the Western Conference’s regular season division champions.

The Flames meet either the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Lightning and Flyers are currently in the middle of their Eastern Conference Finals matchup. Tampa Bay leads the series, 3-2, with Game Five scheduled for Thursday night.

Three Red Wings Named to Canadian World Cup Team

Hockey Canada announced Saturday Team Canada’s roster for the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. Included among their selections are three members of the Detroit Red Wings: Centers Steve Yzerman and Kris Draper and left wing Kirk Maltby.

The roster was determined by Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson, Team Canada’s World Cup management team of Wayne Gretzky, Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini, and coaches Pat Quinn, Ken Hitchcock, Jacques Martin and Wayne Fleming.

Yzerman represented Team Canada at the 1996 World Cup, the only other time the tournament has been held. He also played for his country in 1998 and 2002 at the Olympic Winter Games, helping Canada to a gold medal in 2002. Yzerman played on the Canadian squad at the 1984 Canada Cup – the predecessor of the World Cup tournament – as well as at the World and European Championships in 1985, 1989 and 1990, and at the World Junior Championships in 1983.

Draper played alongside Maltby for Team Canada at the 2003 World Championships as the Canadians claimed the gold. He also played for the Canadian National Team in 1988-89 and 1989-90 and for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships in 1990 and 1991.

Maltby’s only previous international experience was in the 2003 World Championships.

The 2004 World Cup of Hockey will take place from August 30 to September 14, 2004. Team Canada will play in the North American Division alongside the United States, Czech Republic and Russia. North American Division games will be played at the Bell Centre in Montreal, the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, and the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Team Canada’s full roster is as follows:

Goaltenders– Ed Belfour (Toronto Maple Leafs), Martin Brodeur (New Jersey Devils), and Roberto Luongo (Florida Panthers)

DefensemenRob Blake (Colorado Avalanche), Eric Brewer (Edmonton Oilers), Adam Foote (Avalanche), Ed Jovanovski (Vancouver Canucks), Scott Niedermayer (Devils), Chris Pronger (St. Louis Blues), Wade Redden (Ottawa Senators), and Robyn Regehr (Calgary Flames)

ForwardsShane Doan (Phoenix Coyotes), Draper, Simon Gagne (Philadelphia Flyers), Dany Heatley (Atlanta Thrashers), Jarome Iginla (Flames), Mario Lemieux (Pittsburgh Penguins), Maltby, Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks), Brendan Morrow (Dallas Stars), Brad Richards (Tampa Bay Lightning), Joe Sakic (Avalanche), Ryan Smyth (Oilers), Martin St. Louis (Lightning), Joe Thornton (Boston Bruins), and Yzerman

Hatcher Suspended for Three Games

The National Hockey League announced on Tuesday the suspension of Detroit Red Wings defenseman Derian Hatcher for the first three games of a 2004-05 regular season following an incident in Game Six of Detroit’s second round series with the Calgary Flames on May 3.

In the first period of the game, which the Flames won to eliminate the Red Wings from the playoffs, Hatcher elbowed Calgary forward Matthew Lombardi in the head. Lombardi stayed in the game but missed Games One and Two of the Flames’ Western Conference Finals series with the San Jose Sharks. No penalty was called on the play.

It is the second suspension to arise from the Detroit-Calgary series. Calgary’s Ville Nieminen was suspended for one game after skating out of his way to elbow Detroit goaltender Curtis Joseph in the closing seconds of Game Four.

Hatcher missed most of the 2003-04 season, his first with the Red Wings, with a torn ACL suffered in only the third game of the season.

Wings Go Home Empty-Handed After OT Thriller

It wasn’t for a lack of trying, but Miikka Kiprusoff was too hard a nut for the Red Wings to crack. Martin Gelinas scored with 43 seconds left in the first overtime period to give the Calgary Flames the victory in the Western Conference Semi-Finals, four games to two.

The Red Wings were, of course, playing without Steve Yzerman, after the Captain underwent surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone damaged in Saturday’s Game Five. “I’m travelling with the team,” Yzerman said as soon as he came out from under the anesthetic. “No, you aren’t,” said the doctors. The pressure changes of air travel would easily damage the delicate orbital bone. The Captain spent hours on the phone encouraging his teammates late Sunday and early Monday. Before the game, the coaching staff carried a Number 19 jersey into the locker room. “How many of you,” they asked, “are going to play like this guy would play?”

It’s generally expected in Detroit that the Red Wings fall apart without their Captain. This game, they did no such thing. Brendan Shanahan and Kris Draper stepped up and showed the way, leading volley after volley of attacks towards Kiprusoff’s net. Nicklas Lidstrom and Mathieu Schneider barely left the ice, sitting on the bench only long enough to give Derian Hatcher or Jamie Rivers a chance to lay a hard check on one Flame or another and give Mathieu Dandenault or Jason Woolley a chance to get out and skate down loose pucks before the speedy Flames could get to them.

Curtis Joseph excelled under the pressure, making saves at least as phenomenal the saves Kiprusoff made at the other end of the ice. All night long, he stopped backhanders from Jarome Iginla and screened shots from Andrew Ference and Chris Clark. He stopped a high shot by Matthew Lombardi with his helmet.

In the end, Gelinas was only able to score due to a missed defensive coverage. Somehow, he managed to sneak into the Red Wings’ zone and wait by the corner of the net. Craig Conroy was tied up in the corner, but managed to bank a centering pass off the skate of Derian Hatcher. Joseph was facing his right to guard against Conroy and Iginla, which meant that Gelinas was able to fire the puck into an open net.

Now What?

Last year in this situation, writing my last game summary of the season, I strung together a list of predictions for how the Red Wings would pull themselves back together in the off-season.

This year, I don’t feel I can do that. The uncertainty of the collective bargaining agreement and the state of the NHL, not to mention the number of free agents the Red Wings will have come July 1, make it nearly impossible for me to think of what might happen.

The only prediction I have for next season is this one: if there is a season, Stevie Yzerman will play again.

Wishful thinking? Maybe. But the NHL is a changing place. The days of the defensive trap are passing, as young, speedy teams like the Flames, Sharks, and Lightning come to the forefront of the league. The Red Wings’ management is intelligent enough to see this and retool to meet the changing demands of professional hockey. The Captain, old-school player he may be, will wish to be there to help his team on its transition into the future. And the team would be foolish not to keep him and his wisdom.

Flames Regain Series Lead With Shutout

A slow start and defensive errors took their toll on the Red Wings, allowing the Flames to take a 1-0 win in Game Five, giving them a 3-2 series lead.

The Red Wings did not manage to dominate the Flames in the first period as they have often done this series; in fact, Calgary outshot Detroit by a count of 8 to 7. Again, both goaltenders were spectacular. Curtis Joseph held the Red Wings in with a poke check against Martin Gelinas after a giveaway along the boards.

Miikka Kiprusoff didn’t have much to do early in the period, but Detroit started to pressure offensively when they got a power play near the end of the first. Kiprusoff was called upon to make big saves against Steve Yzerman from the side of the net and Brett Hull from the high slot.

The second period started off much as the first had done: the Flames came out with more energy and the Red Wings had to scramble to catch up. Joseph did his part to keep the team in the game with a huge glove save against Jarome Iginla just over a minute into the period.

The Red Wings looked to be finding their skating legs and managing to create some scoring chances against Kiprusoff when the disaster of the game struck. The puck deflected off of a skate in front of the Detroit net and hit Yzerman hard in the face. He fell to the ice and had to be helped off by the team trainer as he clutched a towel to his left eye. Yzerman did not return for the remainder of the game.

The Flames were able to score their only goal a few minutes later. Jiri Fischer hit Iginla along the boards, but Iginla was still able to center a pass to Craig Conroy, who lifted the puck high over Joseph.
The Red Wings seemed to regain some composure for the third period. They did generate more shots against Kiprusoff, but most of the shots were of the non-screened, relatively easy to stop variety. Hull had an excellent chance to shoot into an open net during a power play, but the puck bounced just over his stick.

With the Red Wings’ third period onslaught of shots, Kiprusoff wound up making a total of 31 saves for the shutout. Joseph made a total of 20 saves on 21 shots.

Game Six of the semi-final series will be played Monday night in Calgary.

With Ville Nieminen suspended for running at Joseph in Game Four, the Flames brought Dave Lowry into the lineup. Rhett Warrener also made his way back into the lineup after missing two games with a scratched cornea?. Chris Chelios was again scratched for Detroit due to an upper body injury.

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