Flames have decent chance at knocking off Sharks

RANDY SPORTAK

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

There are two huge lessons for the Calgary Flames to take from their first two playoff tilts.

First is the importance of discipline. The number of penalties they took in the second period of Game 2 was foolish and cost them a chance to sweep the road tilts in the best-of-seven series.

Secondly, it's that they can beat the San Jose Sharks if they play a smart and intense game. Plenty of pundits believe they'll come out on the short end of the stick in the series, but the Flames have a chance. And we're not talking Lloyd Christmas, Dumb and Dumber odds. (As in one out of a million? "So you're telling me there's a chance.")

When the Flames play with controlled aggression in five-on-five play, they are capable of creating more than enough scoring chances to upend the Sharks.

They have strong goaltending in Miikka Kiprusoff -- that second-period performance alone proves he can still win a game in the right circumstances -- to withstand the Shark attack and the top-end talent to match goals.

And when their role players such as Eric Nystrom, David Moss, Matthew Lombardi and Wayne Primeau get motoring, they're capable of building enough momentum to unsettle the opposition.

They've proven it. In the first game and in parts of Game 2.

Upending the Sharks won't be easy -- that run down the stretch proves how good they can be (9-1-0 against playoff bound teams in their final 22 games) -- but it's possible.

San Jose doesn't have a juggernaut of a squad, but it'll take the Flames making all the right moves all the time.

Rant time

Enough with the complaining about referees Marc Joannette and Tim Peel. Each of Calgary's penalties in that second-period stretch of Game 2 were deserved. You can't cross-check a player in the back. You can't hold. You can't slash an opponent on the knee.

Too often, officials have given teams the benefit of the doubt when they're already shorthanded and let teams play with prison rules. A penalty is a penalty, be it the first minute, when a team is already down a man, when a team has been flagged five times in a row over 10 minutes or in the final minute.

If the Flames don't want to be shorthanded so often, play more within the rules.

Hopefully the refs call every game the same way.

FLAMING C NOTES

A poll on TSN's website picked the Flames-Sharks series to become the most 'nasty' among the opening round. Sorry, but we don't see it. It's going to remain heated and simmer, and you can bet there will be a touch of fisticuffs. But the way the Anaheim Ducks played all season combined with the kind of shenanigans Dallas Stars forward Steve Ott brings to the table, the guess here says those teams will create plenty of Slap Shot moments ... The noise Sharks fans make in their barn sure throws down the gauntlet for Flames faithful when the series switches to the Saddledome. Although, we could handle less booing in the Shark Tank. The catcalls at Dion Phaneuf every time he touches the puck is great stuff, but it would be nice if San Jose's fans wouldn't complain every time one of their players falls down ... One benefit of the Penguins basically throwing their final regular-season game and losing to the Philadelphia Flyers is the Flyers jumped the Flames in the overall standings, which will put Calgary's draft spot one place higher.

HOCKEY TALKY

If the NHL had courage, it would have suspended Gary Roberts at least one game for his hit from behind at the end of Pittsburgh's series opening win over Ottawa. That kind of hit in the numbers has no business in the game and Roberts should know that ... For a laugh, check out Sports Illustrated's online feature of NHLer's resembling entertainers ... Here's hoping Boston's Patrice Bergeron has a fantastic playoffs after missing almost the whole season from the cheapshot he took from Philly's Randy Jones.


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