The #4 vs. #5 matchup in the West pits Calgary against Chicago.
Chicago has been the feel-good hit of the NHL season, from their on-ice resurgence to the Winter Classic, to the mind-blowing attendance increase driven by an exciting team. How long can the party keep rolling? The Flames, meanwhile, acquired star center Olli Jokinen at the trade deadline; how will he perform in his first-ever playoff appearance?
This would appear to be a relatively even affair compared to many series, but an argument was made over at Bird Watchers Anonymous that the Flames beat up on the lesser teams, while struggling against playoff-caliber competition. The Blackhawks had more consistent performance.
|2008 - Miikka Kiprusoff||76||4418||45||24||5||3||209||2.84||2155||1946||.903||4|
|2008 - Cristobal Huet||41||2351||20||15||4||5||99||2.53||1087||988||.909||3|
|2008 - Nikolai Khabibulin||42||2467||25||8||7||1||96||2.33||1192||1096||.919||3|
Most people predicted that having two #1 goalies (at least in terms of salary) on the roster would present a huge issue in Chicago, but in the end, they've gotten decent production out of each. Certainly the Bulin Wall has been more forbidding this year than at any time since his Cup run with Tampa Bay in 2004.
No OtF preview would be complete without a look at Penalty Plus/Minus, to see which players will head to, or send other players to, the box:
|Calgary||Penalties Drawn||Chicago||Penalties Drawn|
|Player||Draws||Fouls||Pen +/-||Player||Draws||Fouls||Pen +/-|
|Jarome Iginla||49||14||+35||Ben Eager||33||45||-12|
|Dion Phaneuf||46||36||+10||Patrick Kane||32||19||+13|
|Craig Conroy||27||14||+13||Dustin Byfuglien||31||29||+2|
|Mike Cammalleri||27||17||+10||Jonathan Toews||29||23||+6|
|Todd Bertuzzi||25||34||-9||Dave Bolland||28||21||+7|
|Curtis Glencross||24||18||+6||Kris Versteeg||27||14||+13|
|Penalties Taken||Penalties Taken|
|Corey Sarich||20||41||-21||Ben Eager||33||45||-12|
|Dion Phaneuf||46||36||+10||Dustin Byfuglien||31||29||+2|
|Todd Bertuzzi||25||34||-9||Brent Seabrook||16||28||-12|
|Olli Jokinen||19||31||-12||Matt Walker||16||26||-10|
|Robin Regehr||15||31||-16||Duncan Keith||8||26||-18|
|Adam Pardy||12||28||-16||Adam Burish||25||24||+1|
Jarome Iginla finished 2nd in this year's Penalty Plus/Minus standings, a valuable contribution above and beyond the point-per-game production that he already brings. At least this guy doesn't complain about the Calgary captain:
This should be an exciting series, but injuries will ultimately hamper Calgary. I like the Chicago Blackhawks to move on.