CALGARY - A day earlier, Alex Tanguay was waxing on about how his team would be a tough playoff matchup for anyone in the NHL's Western Conference.
With a combination of resilience and goaltending, the Calgary Flames winger argued they just need to get in and see what happens.
Same could be said of the Los Angeles Kings.
And if Wednesday night's performance was any indication, there are probably not too many teams that want to face Jonathan Quick in the first round.
All season long, Quick has stood tall and held his team in the playoff race, much the way Miikka Kiprusoff has for the Flames.
The Kings have too much talent up front not to figure out how to score a few eventually, and Quick can certainly shut a team down.
Tanguay can attest to that. Off a faceoff in the Kings zone in the first period Wednesday, Tanguay got a great chance in front. But Quick waited for the slick playmaker to make a move then slid a pad over for a breathtaking save.
There are plenty of stats to back up Quick's performance this season, but the best one might be this: When shut out this season, the Kings have a 1-8-1 record. Twice, Quick shut the door for 65 minutes, sending his team to shootouts, which we all know are extinct once the playoffs begin.
AGAINST THE GLASS
There is no doubt Darryl Sutter has impacted the Kings players. They are now 23-13-8 after Wednesday's win under Sutter, and they seem to be getting used to his methods, which includes brutal honesty. Jeff Carter is new to the Kings but doesn't have complaints yet. "I've loved playing for him," Carter said. "He's been great. He's old school. He's not shy to tell you what he's thinking. As a player, that's what you need. If you need to be better, he's going to tell you." "¶ Every time the name Clifford appears, the first thing that comes to mind is the big red dog. Kings LW Kyle Clifford is just normal-sized and not a giant, but he has thrown his weight around to the tune of 113 penalty minutes this season "¶ How awful is the Flames' luck? Curtis Glencross was just sitting on the bench minding his own business when he gets hit with Michael Cammalleri's skate as the centre jumped over the boards. Glencross was OK, but, at his height, maybe Cammalleri should use the gate. Just kidding, Mike.
IN THE CREASE
While Cory Sarich sat out his third straight game with a concussion, he certainly wasn't 'watching from the pressbox.' "I usually stay down here," the veteran blueliner said in the Flames locker-room. "I'm not a big fan of heights. That catwalk going across, no thanks. I will be definitely glued to the television, that's for sure" "¶ Pending unrestricted free agent Olli Jokinen isn't doing himself any favours heading into the open market. Heading into Wednesday, Jokinen was minus-9 in the last seven games. A No. 1 centre -- or at least that's how Jokinen wants to be paid -- can't do that in the middle of a playoff stretch drive. However, that minus-9 will look good once he hits the golf course in two weeks "¶ Linesman Pierre Champoux won't argue that Jay Bouwmeester has a hard shot now. On a clearing attempt, Bouwmeester hit Champoux right in the ear-hole of his helmet. Luckily for him, there was an immediate commercial break to clear out the cobwebs.
After the matchup with the Kings, the Flames have one meeting left with the Pacific Division -- the season-finale vs. the Anaheim Ducks. All 19 of the other games came in the past 34 outings, and the Flames compiled an 8-5-6 record after Wednesday's loss. Not terrible. They have been awful against Central Division clubs (7-11-2) but great against teams within their own division (14-5-2) "¶ Sarich skated with the team during in the morning a day after working with fellow injured C Mikael Backlund. Sarich hopes to be ready Friday against the Avalanche. "I felt good physically and mentally skating on my own," Sarich said. "Once I introduced 20 other guys buzzing around, I felt slowed down. It's a hard thing to describe. I just know I'm not right" "¶ Before the game, the Flames honoured this year's winners of the J.R. (Bud) McCaig award for staffers who show respect, courtesy and compassion for individuals in professional and everyday life. Blueliner Mark Giordano and food services manager Art Hernandez were the winners, and there is no argument anywhere that they aren't deserving.
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