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Pittsburgh vs. Calgary Preview

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins (39-27-8-86) vs. Calgary Flames (42-24-6-90)

Where: Mellon Arena
Wednesday, March 25, 2008, 7:30 p.m.
WXDX Radio, FM 105.9
FSN Pittsburgh, the game will be broadcast in HD, available on Armstrong 179, Atlantic Broadband 782, Citizen 737, Comcast 226/774, DISH 428, DirecTV 659 and Verizon Fios 576.
*View FSN's HD Broadcast Schedule here
Season Series:
The Penguins will face the Flames for the first and only time this season.



  Pens vs. Flames 12/6

Outscore the Flames: Duh, right? Well, Calgary is third in the league in scoring but ranks 24th in goals allowed. In other words, expect a shootout between these two teams. No lead will be safe so Pittsburgh will have to keep the heat up on the Flames.

Protect the Crease:
Calgary loves to play physical in front of the net and take the body. The Flames wreak havoc on opposing goalies and will try to establish the crease as their territory. Like predators, they circle the area smelling blood and pounce on rebounds. The Penguins must protect the crease and send an early message that this is Pittsburgh territory trespassing will not be tolerated. 
The Calgary Flames went “all in” this season. There is no more building for the future. For general manager Darryl Sutter and the Flames, the future is now. Calgary opened with a strong hand of core players with Jerome Iginla, Dion Phaneuf, Miikka Kiprusoff, Robyn Regehr and Daymond Langkow. Then Sutter went about adding chips to the pot. In the offseason, he acquired the dynamic Michael Cammalleri and big-guy Todd Bertuzzi.

The Flames got off to a hot start in the season and really hit their stride in December and January, going 16-5-3 in that span to build a comfortable lead in the Northwest Division. When Calgary ran off a 7-0-2 stretch to end February, suddenly the Flames looked like a team that was only a few pieces away from being a legit threat for the Stanley Cup title. That’s when Sutter decided to throw all his chips on the table at the trade deadline, picking up forward Olli Jokinen and defenseman Jordan Leopold. Now the balance in the West has shifted and Calgary will challenge Detroit and San Jose for conference supremacy. In fact, Calgary just knocked off the defending Cup champion Red Wings, 5-3, Monday night (and beat Detroit, 6-5, in a shootout March 12). There may be a new sheriff in the Wild West.
The Flames parted ways with Alex Tanguay, Kristian Huselius and Owen Nolan in the offseason, adding Cammalleri, Jim Vandermeer, Curtis Glencross and Andre Roy. Calgary made the most noise at the March 4th trade deadline by acquiring Jokinen and Leopold. To pull off the deals, Calgary had to give up Ryan Wilson, Lawrence Nycholat, Brandon Prust, Matthew Lombardi and a first-round and second-round pick.
When it comes to offense, there aren’t many teams better than Calgary and the numbers back up their claim. The Flames average 3.26 goals per game to rank third in the NHL (a hair behind No. 2 Boston, 3.27). And the additions of Jokinen and Leopold make the team even more of a threat to score.

Jerome Iginla is everything to the Calgary Flames. He’s more than the team’s captain, leading scorer and best all-around player. Iginla is the heart and soul of the Flames and the city of Calgary. The former scoring champion’s passion and charisma inspire not only the 21 men in the locker room, but also an entire Canadian city. While Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin stole all the headlines last season, Iginla finished third in the NHL in points (98) and goals (50). He is sixth in the league with 83 points this year (31G-52A). Jokinen, the biggest deadline acquisition in the league, is centering the top line with Iginla and Dustin Boyd. Jokinen has tallied 54 points (29 goals) in Phoenix and Calgary this season. Boyd is a former third-round pick that has chipped in 22 points and is filling in for Bertuzzi (out until early April with a knee injury) on the top unit.

The second line consists of Cammalleri, Langkow and Lundmark. Cammalleri (5-foot-9, 185 pounds) has recaptured his form of two years ago when he netted 34 goals and 80 points. After a major drop off last season, Cammalleri has posted 75 points (second on the team) and 36 goals (first on the team) on the current campaign. Langkow is fourth on the Flames in scoring with 46 points (19G-27A). Lundmark has battled through various injuries this season, limiting him to only 17 games played.

Calgary’s third line is composed of Glencross, Craig Conroy and David Moss, while David Van der Gulik, Warren Peters and Eric Nystrom round out the Flames’ depth at forward.
The Flames have surrendered a surprisingly high number of goals this year. The team is allowing an average of 3.04 pucks into the net to rank 24th (tied) in the NHL. Phaneuf is a legitimate Norris Trophy candidate and the Flames’ best defensive player (read more in Player Spotlight).

Alternate captain Robyn Regehr is a nine-year veteran and locker room leader. Adrian Aucoin, 35, is a steadying presence on the blue line who has been rejuvenated since arriving in Calgary. He’s compiled 68 points over the past two season as a Flame. Leopold returned to the team that he broke into the league with (Calgary), while Cory Sarich and Vandermeer round out the defensive corps.
Miikka Kiprusoff may be the best goaltender in the league. However, not many people know that because he doesn’t get nearly enough attention or headlines. Part of the reason is that his struggles with the English language making him a little camera shy, but his numbers speak for themselves. Kiprusoff leads the NHL with 42 wins. He’s tallied 163 wins in the past four seasons with 42, 39, 40 and 42 victories respectively. On the year, the Finnish native is 42-18-5 with a 2.86 goals against average and .904 save percentage. He’s reliable and durable in net, playing in 67, 76, 74 and 74 games in the last four years.
The obvious spotlight pick would be Iginla. However, everyone is well aware of what a dynamic player he is, thus everyone will pay attention to his performance anyway. So we would like to highlight Phaneuf.  

Phaneuf was a member of the bountiful 2003 NHL draft class. He broke into the league as a fire starting 20-year-old after the lockout. The rookie Flame netted 20 goals (including seven game-winning scores) and 49 points. He currently leads all Calgary blueliners with 43 points on 11 goals and 32 assists. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Phaneuf likes to play physical and is a force on the ice. He’s an annual Norris Trophy candidate and a natural leader (and his relationship with girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert garnered national attention following Sean Avery’s now famous remarks).
“He’s a guy that prides himself on being a physical presence. He likes to play that style of game. You expect to get hit when you play him.”
- Sidney Crosby on Dion Phaneuf
> Daymond Langkow recorded his 600th career NHL point Monday

> Miikka Kiprusoff tied a franchise record with 42 wins, previously held by himself during the 2005-06 season.

> Evgeni Malkin will play in his 235th consecutive game, tying for the third-longest streak in Penguins history (Ron Stackhouse, 235). 

Author: Sam Kasan

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