The Flames flickered on the road throughout the regular season. So, honestly, why should we have expected anything different last night?
Truth is that, in retrospect, we shouldn’t have.
In the lid-lifter of their playoff series in Detroit, the Red Wings outmuscled, outhustled, outshot (46-19) and even outclassed the Flames. If anything, the 4-1 score flattered Calgary. The Wings, after all, jumped ahead 4-0 and you got the impression that they could have scored a couple more goals if they really, really wanted to do so.
This was all Detroit. Despite some pre-series praise for the Flames from talking heads Don Cherry and Brett Hull, who mentioned the teams physical abilities as a reason for a possible upset in the series, the Flames showed virtually no toughness.
We got up early,” Detroit defenceman Chris Chelios said, and we were able to control the game.”
The Flames, in reality, started the playoffs much the same way they completed the regular season. They stumbled into the post-season, losing their final four games and needing a Colorado Avalanche loss on the second-to-last day to clinch the eighth and final berth.
While they figured they matched up well with the Wings, having split the regular-season series on the strength of two home wins, they didn't assert themselves in any way last night.
There's no question that the Flames are as strong as any team in the NHL on their home ice. But unless they can come away with at least one triumph in Detroit -- which doesn't seem remotely feasible after last night- there will be no upset in this series.
• Bill Berg was a decent NHL player but he's better analyst and that should worry the Ottawa Senators.
Berg, see, suggested yesterday that he didn't think the Sens—despite a superb effort in their 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday — stand any chance of prevailing when the Sens and Pens line up for the second game of their series tomorrow.
In fact, even though the Sens are heavily favoured over the Pens and even though CBC luminary Don Cherry thinks Ottawa is en route to the Stanley Cup championship series Berg is not convinced that the team is for real.
I think the Penguins will bounce back in Game 2,” Berg said. I want to see Game 2 because I think that'll be a true measure of their series.”
• History, by the way, is on the Pens' side.
The Sens have never won the second game of a playoff series after taking the opener.