Flames and Hawks Sputtering; Carey Price Sighting in Montreal
March 31, 2009 by Big Tony
A few stories of note as the season comes to a close concerning the races for playoff positioning:
1. The Chicago Blackhawks have played well virtually all season, but the last few weeks they have encountered some pretty hard times. Including their loss to Montreal Tuesday night the Blackhawks have lost nine of their last 13 and are in danger of falling out of fourth position and losing the first round home-ice advantage that goes with it. Perhaps it’s the fatigue of a young team going through a long year of high-level performances culminating in a losing stretch as they anticipate the commencement of the playoffs. The dip in play by Chicago is understandable but just because they haven’t made it to the post-season in a while doesn’t mean the fans will be at all forgiving if their late season struggles turn into a first round exit.
2. Tuesday night was a good one for Montreal Canadiens fans everywhere for not only did they down the Blackhawks 4-1 but Tuesday finally marks the return of the good Carey Price. Facing 29 shots, Price stopped 28—giving up only a flukie goal by Patrick Sharp in the third period—price shut down Chicago pretty well. But moreso than simply stopping shots, Price finally looked comfortable again in net; he was standing his ground, staying poised, and didn’t seem like he was overplaying every shot. This is a great sign for the Canadiens who need top-notch play from all positions but especially in net if they plan on making the playoffs and making noise once they get there. At the moment the Canadiens will likely take whatever position they can as long as they qualify for the playoffs but if they stay in 8th as they are now the hated Boston Bruins would be on tap first…and the plot thickens.
3. The trade deadline moves by the Calgary Flames have not had the desired effect as they have lost eight of 13 since March 4th. At first the Flames were having some issues with defense and goaltending but now that those have sured up a bit Calgary is having a hard time finding the back of the net. Calgary has scored only four goals in the last four games and were shutout two games in a row by Pittsburgh and Columbus respectively in back-to-back contests. Much like Chicago, the Flames have played well all year but are now in danger of losing the top spot in their division and may actually end up qualifying for the post-season without first round home-ice advantage. Meanwhile the Vancouver Canucks have really hit their stride and are quickly gaining on Calgary and may in fact pull the division right from under the feet of the Flames.