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Gameday Primer: Who has momentum?

by Mike Board / Calgary Flames


SAN JOSE -- It's time to decide a series winner. Game 7. The first ever here at the HP Pavilion in downtown San Jose. The question most bandied about in the quarter-final series between the Calgary Flames and the San Jose Sharks is which team has the momentum. The answer might be unknown until the end of tonight's game. "I don't know if you could describe any team in this series as controlling momentum," said Calgary head coach Mike Keenan. "It goes in game swings."

Tonight's Line-ups and Game Notes
Analysis: Anything can happen now
Kiprusoff calm, cool and collected 

One shot, one bounce, one bad penalty. That's who quickly a Game 7 can swing.

But the Flames aren't talking about lucky bounces. They are talking about putting together another complete game, rolling four lines and shutting down the hottest team in the NHL after the trade deadline. The heavily-favoured Sharks might not be so heavily-favoured anymore.

"There's pressure on both sides. I don't think there is a favourite anymore," said forward Daymond Langkow.

There's pressure on both sides. I don't think there is a favourite anymore - Daymond Langkow

Forward Kristian Huselius said the team is in the right frame of mind heading into the game and not letting the pressure eat them up.

"We're still playing on ice. We're still playing with a puck. We're playing with five guys and a puck. So are they. Last game we played with a lot of confidence. We did a good job. It was a complete team effort," said Huselius.

"There's nothing to lose," noted Craig Conroy. We have to have a good start and find a way to get the first goal. Keenan said players react differently to the pressure of Game 7. "Some people thrive on the expectations. Some people succumb to the expectations."

After tonight's game we'll know who thrived and who succumbed.

BY THE NUMBERS: In all, the Flames have played in 11 Game 7's over the years. They have a 5-6 record in those games. They have lost their last two Game 7 encounters. In 2004 they lost 2-1 to Tampa Bay in the final game of the Stanley Cup and in 2006 they lost 3-0 at home to Anaheim. The Flames and Sharks have played a Game 7 against each other before, back in 1995. That Game the Sharks won in double overtime when Ray Whitney's hope and a prayer shot from a bad angle beat Flames goalie Trevor Kidd for the winner...Calgary coach Mike Keenan has a winning record in Game 7 behind the bench. He is 5-4...Keenan now has 94 playoff wins, tied for fourth with Pat Quinn. Scotty Bowman (223), Al Arbour (123) and Dick Irvin (100) are the coaches in front of Keenan...Former Sharks Owen Nolan has two game-winners in the series...
BETWEEN THE PIPES: This has been one close series. Both goalies, Evgeni Nabokov for the Sharks and Miikka Kiprusoff for the Flames, have 2-0 shutouts. Both have allowed 14 goals. Four of the games have been decided by one goal. It's been pretty even between the pipes. Both have made terrific saves. Both have one or two goals they would like back. Which one will have ice in his veins tonight?
THE OTHER SIDE: The Sharks must be wondering where Milan Michalek, the team's second-leading scorer in the regular season with 24 tallies, has gone. While many are saying that Joe Thornton has disappeared at times during the series, Michalek has been held scoreless. He has just five shots on net...The Sharks leader in points in Ryane Clowe with eight (4 g, 4 a). He also leads the Sharks in shots on goal with 26 in the series.
KEEP AN EYE ON: For the Flames: Flames captain Jarome Iginla had a dominating performance in 2004 against the Vancouver Canucks the last time he played in a first round series Game 7. He got some much-needed support in Game 6 in the scoring department and that might just open up more ice for Iginla. The fourth line of Wayne Primeau, David Moss and Eric Nystrom have been building through the series, They could be due for a goal, too. For the Sharks: Just as the eyes are on Iginla, they will be on Joe Thornton for the Sharks. They are the big bucks players and they are expected to perform in the big games. Thornton has a goal and five assists in the series. Left unchecked he can be dangerous.

THE ROSTER: The Flames are expected to ice the same line-up meaning F Dustin Boyd and F Eric Godard will likely be sitting. D Rhett Warrener (ankle) is now skating with the team .F Mark Smith (head, neck) is definitely out. The Flames used defenceman Jim Vandermeer at forward in Game 6 and he put in 10 relatively effective minutes. The Flames claimed a 2-0 win in Game 6 so expect very little to change and look for Vandermeer to play up front again. The Sharks are expected to re-insert vet Jeremy Roenick into the line-up after he was scratched in Game 6. Defenceman Kyle McLaren will not play. He is nursing a groin injury, according to the Sharks. With Godard out of the line-up, the Sharks may opt to sit their fighter, Jody Shelley, tonight.

QUOTABLE 1: "You have to have a respectful confidence, not arrogance, not conceit." -- Flames coach Mike Keenan on going into a Game 7.
QUOTABLE 2: "Our focus is keep it rolling, keep going, keep pushing." -- Flames forward Jarome Iginla

WORTH NOTING: Head coach Mike Keenan said he thought Kristian Huselius's effort in Game 6 in Calgary was the best game he had seen the forward play. Keenan has coached Huselius on two teams, in Florida and in Calgary. Huselius said he just wanted to be more involved and keep his feet moving. "I want to keep that up," said Huselius who has three assists in the series...

BROADCASTS: CBC television and The Fan 960 radio. Gametime is 8 p.m. MT
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