Tuesday, April 20, 2004


*****[NOTE: The Game 7 post is directly below the series post archive.]*****

Game 1 (at VAN): VAN 5, CGY 3
Game 2 (at VAN): CGY 2, VAN 1
Game 3 (at CGY): VAN 2, CGY 1
Game 4 (at CGY): CGY 4, VAN 0
Game 5 (at VAN): CGY 2, VAN 1
Game 6 (at CGY): VAN 5, CGY 4 (3OT)
Game 7 (at VAN): CGY 3, VAN 2 (OT)

A couple of quotes that I uttered/typed that had to do with this game...

"I'm really afraid of Martin Gelinas" --Me to Jeremy when the game was tied 1-1

"F*%K!!!!" --Me after the final goal was scored.

Sheesh, what to say after this series...

The team that wanted it more certainly won it. It's no stretch to say the better team won it either. On paper, Vancouver was the better team. Of course, the cliche here applies -- this is why they play the games.

I've told a couple people this and I think I've mentioned it once or twice here. I equate the Calgary Flames to being the Utah Jazz of hockey. They are a team that works hard, is fundamentally sound, and takes the embodiment of their coach. Darryl Sutter has his prints ALL OVER that Calgary team. Jerry Sloan melded a team of hacks in Utah into a near-playoff team, which frankly they had no business being. This year's Utah team had no stars, though. Before this year, there was Stockton and Malone, and Hornacek at one time. For Sutter? Jarome Iginla as Karl Malone. No one can say Iginla doesn't deliver after what he did tonight and how he responded after Sutter raked him over the coals after Game 1. Craig Conroy as John Stockton. This may purely be from an assists standpoint, but Malone and Stockton were partners in crime, so Iginla needs one too. So who's in the role of Jeff Hornacek, the man in the clutch? Miikka Kiprusoff. I can't really say that Miikka Kiprusoff stole any games in this series, but he was more than adequate for the Flames in this series. The Flames rode him into the playoffs, but he didn't steal any games in this series.

Bottom line is, save for a couple periods and maybe most of Game 1, the Canucks didn't play their game, and never did so for 60 minutes. The Flames controlled the play, plain and simple. Hard work, grit, and determination got the Flames past the Canucks.

I could try to come up with some articulate thoughts here, but I'll leave it to the radio crew on their final broadcast of the year. I'll bold the interesting stuff they had to say...

Tom: what happens next?
John: Auld made two huge stops in close before the game-winning goal. There were nine seconds left in the Jovanovski penalty
Tom: 3 OT shots, all on same play by Ccalgary. Martin Gelinas with his 2nd goal of the series
John: The fans and everyone had high expectations, even w/o Bertuzzi and Cloutier, but this is still disappointing. The offseason begins tonight
John: Gelinas ended it. It was scoreless through one. Iginla scored, then Cooke scored, then Cooke took the double-minor, then Iginla scored, then Cooke scored with 6 seconds left after Iginla missed the empty net, then Gelinas scored in OT on third rebound attempt on the power play (9 secs left in the kill). Shots were 28 apiece, with Calgary 2-for-5 on the power play, to face Detroit
Dan: It was an unbelievable, incredible, etc. finish. I can't begin to put this into words with the finish in third period, and then the OT was short-lived. It was a power play goal from a former Canuck. Calgary wins its first playoff series win in 15 yrs. The Vancouver late tying goal was after a faceoff outside the Calgary blue line. Jarome Iginla missed the empty net and fell. In the overtime, the Canucks couldn't get through the penalty kill as Gelinas scored on the third chance off the rebound from Iginla and Stephane Yelle.
Dan: It'll take a long time to put this into words
John: where do you start? Wasn't this reminiscent of a good chunk of their season? They scored late, got it done in OT (during season, anyway). It seemed like they led a charmed existence for most of the year. Calgary wanted to get it done early on the power play in OT and they did it. They got the puck to net, and crashed the net
Dan: I don't know what you might think, but I think the better team won the series
Tom: absolutely. Sutter is the story of the series, he pushed all the right buttons. He got team to believe in themselves, and believe they weren't just here to get here, but that they were here to do damage. They were the better team. This series, had it turned for Vancouver, would have been the best series of all, but they didn't, unlike the series that ended with the Bure OT winner, or the series with Greg Adams, or Geoff Courtnall
Dan: To come back from 4-0 to lose in 3OT, but still play perfect road game on the road, and answer back after the 1-1 goal, and still be great when OT starts? (Calgary)
John: How do you rally this team after what it's gone through in the last 48 hours? To lose like that and still win, and to keep composure after the Cooke goal...I am so impressed from this Calgary team. They have discipline, desire, work ethic. To battle from this adversity is amazing.
Tom: I just want to mention Bertuzzi only for the fact that this is a different team without him, but it's still a team game, and you have to find a way to win. We've raved about the chemistry, togetherness, and leadership on this Vancouver team, yet we saw a team that had more of all of those things than Vancouver, and that's the biggest disappointment.
Dan: After that goal with 6 seconds to go, I just felt the Canucks were going to win. With the jersey on the ice, it was almost like the football game with the marching band on the field
John: Vancouver had five games this year where they didn't lead until the final shot in OT. When Cooke got the goal, I thought "here we go again"
Dan: could you imagine what Calgary and their fans were feeling after the Cooke goal? It must have been like "this is not meant to be"
Tom: had Calgary not won, there still would have been 12000 fans waiting for them at the airport. That's the series they've given us. Their fans will be nuts when Detroit comes to Cowtown
Dan: Could you have imagined Iginla's long summer if they would have lost?
John: He fell down on the backhand on the empty net attempt
Dan: he set up the game-winner in OT
John: He had a slow start. The series was almost like his season
Tom: He led the team in scoring. Iginla had 9 shots on goal tonight. Didn't you think he was going to score the winner in OT? Auld made a fantastic save off him.
Dan: I can't believe Calgary pulled it off with all the injuries that they had
Tom: this is textbook stuff, what happened with Sutter's team. This is the perfect example of what team play can overcome. We saw hard-working guys prepared to do anything to win. They played with pain and were a beat-up hockey team, and they were able to beat a much better team on paper.
Dan: they were a more physical style of the Minnesota Wild
John: Sutter had an advatage over Crawford. 12 players on the Calgary roster came in w/no playoff experience. Sutter could get away with things like blasting them publicly. Calgary players were all ears to Sutter. Crawford doesn't have the option of blasting guys publicly. Sutter and Crawford are in different situations.
(coaches press conference...break here for my typing)
Dan: it's almost like we should see these teams play more often in the playoffs, maybe every year or two? In some ways, this was a microcosm of the entire season. They didn't force the play, they didn't apply any speed or pressure. They were not a team that dictated the tone in Game 7 in their own building
John: Vancouver roared out of gate at home. From Nov 20 until the end stretch, they didn't find it at home. Games they did win were like this one. They did enough to even the game up, but they didn't dominate on home ice like they should
Dan: with 5-on-5 play, Calgary was so good, Vancouver wasn't
Tom: They were superior. If you're a contender, you don't lose 3 of 4 on home ice. You can look at that during the regular season too. Vancouver was a better team on road. There was something noticeably missing about their home ice play. This was a very experienced group, and that made it puzzling.
Dan: Crawford seemed crushed with this one. How would you sum up this season?
Tom: Wacky is a very good word. It was so promising at the start, they were unbeaten in 10 at home. Then they leveled off, so thank goodness for the hot start. Then they showed class at the end of year and looked like a playoff team. I liked the opener against Calgary. Why did Vancouver get away from what they did so well? Their game is speed, attack, and pressure. When they did that, despite what Sutter says, Calgary looked inadequate when Vancouver played this game. Where was the get-up-and-go in the 1st period? They were playing like they'd play on the road (no mistakes). If Calgary stayed in the game, we knew they'd be tough. I thought Vancouver played right into Calgary's hands in the 1st period (took crowd out). Vancouver played right into their hands in this whole series. They were sitting ducks, and Calgary capitalized. Kiprusoff saw all the shots, but when Vancouver got some traffic, they did some damage. ... They didn't play CANUCKS HOCKEY.
Dan: They reinvented themselves after the Bertuzzi suspension. There were so many ups and downs
John: How many times can you call a 101-point season a disappointment? There was no 10-game winning streak this year, no 14-gm unbeaten streak, no mystique like last year. The Bertuzzi thing was huge, having Dan Cloutier hurt was huge, though Hedberg and Auld were adequate. March 8 will probably go down as an infamous day in the history of this franchise. The Bertuzzi suspension wound up being 20 games so far.
Dan: It was a huge part of their season. They're a different team without Bertuzzi. What kind of offseason will we have? What about Brian Burke?
Tom: I hope he's still the GM. If Vancouver doesn't do well, some people think he should take the fall. I found it disturbing that ownership waited till end of year to discuss any contract terms. I'd be surprised if he was re-signed though.
Dan: The loyal following of this team is fantastic. Say so long, hopefully it's just a normal summer with no long labor situation
John: Vancouver had such a high expectation, hopefully it's only a 5-month offseason. Thanks to Tom for a 6th year. Dan and Jeff for hosting, (more credits). This is the best job in the world. We hear from so many fans that have fun.
Tom: we are priviledged. From a personal viewpoint, this season was the most enjoyable sitting in this seat. I enjoyed Dan as host and as play-by-play (when John was tending to new baby). It's a very professional crew. The radio show is teamwork.
Dan: Have a great summer (no labor situation).
Tom: The NHL and the players ought to give their heads a real shake. This series was a treat for everyone that saw it.
John: we'll talk to you in September

I should note quickly that in both 1989 and 1994, the winning team out of the CGY/VAN series represented the West in the Stanley Cup finals.

There's tons of questions in the offseason for this team. One could argue Todd Bertuzzi, with one punch, may have sealed the fate of the guy who signed him. GM Brian Burke convinced ownership in the early stages of the season to sign Todd Bertuzzi to a new contract, and Todd had a weird season where he never lived up to expectations and never really got hot. Then the punch came, and that was it.

Who knows about coach Marc Crawford? He did a great job getting this team on that 6-game run at the end of the year. However, has any backup goalie ever been comfortable in Vancouver? And what about going with Alex Auld after signing Johan Hedberg for that exact situation?

What about the goalies themselves? Hedberg is more than likely gone. Cloutier's had three straight 30-win seasons, and though the end of the run this time can't be pinned on him, I really doubt he'd be back next year. Alex Auld might be the number one goalie in Vancouver already.

What about the core group of guys? They've been playing together for a few years now, and there's no Cup. Does there need to be a change?

I guess there really isn't that much more to say.

Damn, they really could have used Todd Bertuzzi in this series...park him in front of the net, have him knock people around, maybe he'd deflect a couple of goals in...

Before I go here, I have to say one thing to everyone that scoffed at Sports and B's for my posting of Canuck semi-recaps after most of the games this season: I hope you're happy. I also hope the Canucks are happy for giving me no reason to keep my playoff beard, which has now been trimmed and cropped into a goatee/'stache thing.

I don't think I'm lying when I say that I've invested more time in these 2003-04 Vancouver Canucks than with any other sports team in my life. This might be due to me having to go out and get all the information and stuff, but it's true. Not even the 2000 or 2001 Mariners got this much time from me, at least not in terms of mega-blogging time and knowledge accumulation. A blog will do that to someone. I wish the Mariners would have made some meaningful moves and not set themselves up for failure so I could root hard for them too, but I just can't.

If you're going to pick another team to root for other than the Canucks, you can go with Jeff at Fire Bavasi and root for the Sens. The Flames aren't a bad team to root for, they're really not. If I were a Calgary fan right now, I'd be absolutely enamored with that team. If you want to make an umbrella-rooting, just pick a Canadian team and stick with them. The Cup deserves to be north of the border, it really does.

Now, to our next-best chance at playoff glory in the northwest...


It's been real, y'all.

[Edit ~2:55p -- Just corrected a couple of spelling mistakes, because "cerainly" is not a word and because Darryl Sutter did not rake Jarome Iginla over the "goals."]

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