The National Hockey League playoffs have arrived. The Calgary Flames are taking on the upstart Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the playoffs. Each week of the playoffs we start a new Flames Playoff Update page.
It includes Calgary Flames news, notes, quotes and anecdotes updated throughout the week with information from practices, games and morning skates. We might even throw in some information about the Flames opponent. Consider it your daily dish of quick playoff information.
Below is the Flames Playoff Update
for the week beginning April 26, 2009
Phaneuf Out: Dion Phaneuf did not take part in the morning skate and head coach Mike Keenan erased all questions about the status of the blueliner for tonight's contest.
"No, he will not," was Keenan's response when asked if Phaneuf would play. "He's not available. And his status is day-to-day."
Phaneuf's teammates expressed their concern about his possible absence but remained positive that they could handle the 24-year-old's workload.
"It's not a good feeling, especially when a guy logs as much ice as he does," said Cory Sarich. "But at the same time you can't sit there and dwell on it, you've got to concentrate and do your job and make sure you do it a little better than you normally do."
Staying Out of the Sin Bin: The Flames were cognizant of how unruly penalties can cost them a game, as it did on Saturday night, and swore they were going to be more disciplined on Monday night.
"They're going to target our best players, and that's what were going to do with them. We're trying to get Toews and Kane, Havlat and Sharp," said Craig Conroy. "We don't want to take penalties on them but we want to finish our check every time and hopefully try to wear them down."
Editors' Note: This space is normally reserved for 'The Day After: The Good, the Bad, and Everything Else.', but in light of Saturday night's 5-1 debacle, we find ourselves two-thirds short on content...Huh?
The Flames undoubtedly spent an introspective flight back to Calgary after their brutal 5-1 loss to the Blackhawks in Game 5. Any momentum gathered during the homestand evaporated quickly as the Flames found themselves down 3-0 after a two-minute explosion from the Hawks half-way through the first period. The team never had an opportunity to build any momentum, as the Chicago team came out flying in front of an electric United Center crowd.
"We just got behind the 8-ball before the game even started," said Eric Nystrom. "The first ten minutes were gonna be their big push and we couldn't weather it."
Though the majority of the game lay ahead of the team, the Flames simply could not recover from Chicago's initial surge. Nystrom blamed the lack of response more on his team than on the Blackhawks performance.
"We were just a little off tonight, we weren't making good passes... they were quick to pounce," said Nystrom, who did credit the Hawks. "They were pretty much beating us at our own gameplan... We didn't have nearly enough shots, enough traffic.
The Flames started the second period strong, and when Dustin Boyd scored his first of the playoffs there was a glimmer of hope for the team, but that quickly disappeared as Andrew Ladd chased Miikka Kiprusoff
and Cam Barker buried Chicago's fifth goal on Curtis McElhinney.
Now back at home, the team must do their best to forget Game 5 in very short order. The performance was one that can hopefully be completely disregarded, but the wiggle room has vanished as the Flames now face elimination. The team can take solace in their return home, where they hope the fans will do for them what the Hawks' fans seemed to do for their team.
"We have to leave this one behind and go back to our great fans in Calgary... we need them to be as crazy as possible, said Nystrom. “Tonight was a hostile environment and it's definitely imposing."
Nystrom remains confident that the team can respond at home Monday, and give themselves one more opportunity to win a game in Chicago on Wednesday.
"Everybody needs to play better... we've got the man power in here to do some great things," said Nystrom. "We're gonna get our first road victory here in Game 7."
First though, the Flames will have to handle a Hawks team that can smell blood in the water with the Flame on the verge of elimination in Game 6 (7:30 pm, TSN, The Fan 960).