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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Character Test for Calgary - by Big Tex

Was the Chicago Blackhawks’ epic (6-5-overtime-comeback-from-a-5-0-deficit) win over the Calgary Flames the best Columbus Day game ever? I’m just askin’, because I have DirecTV and the game was on Versus, so…I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Rangers (metaphorically) pull down the Maple Leafs’ pants and spank them in front of an enthusiastic MSG crowd. In between periods of that game, I caught chunks of a hard-fought Lightning win over the cross-state rival Panthers, as well as a bit of the Penguins-Senators game. All in all, a pretty good night of hockey…except for missing the game on Versus. Are you listening, DirecTV? I ain’t happy.

While the young ‘Hawks should pat themselves on the back for turning a humiliating home rout into the greatest comeback in franchise history (tied for greatest comeback in NHL history), the fact that Cristobal Huet surrendered 3 goals in 53 seconds is definitely cause for concern. Equally concerning is the performance of backup Antti Niemi, who looked (based on the two goals he allowed) completely unprepared to play hockey Monday night. All blame for Calgary’s five goals shouldn’t lie with Chicago’s goalie tandem, but neither one turned in a confidence-inspiring performance. What’s Manny Legace’s phone number?

On the flip side, at least Chicago can look back on this night as a character test passed with flying colors. Calgary, on the other hand, has nothing but questions and regret. Seriously, in the National Hockey League, how do you blow a 5-0 lead? As a result of the Flames’ Columbus Day Massacre, tonight’s game in Columbus represents a serious character test for Calgary. Final score aside, the way the Flames play against the Blue Jackets will go a long way towards answering the “Contender or Pretender?” question. Without a doubt, Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock watched the Flames-Hawks game, and will have his team “dug in” and ready for an all-out assault from an angry Flames team. In Sunday’s JabberHockey broadcast, I picked Calgary at Columbus as my Game of the Week, primarily for the match-up of Calgary’s top-ranked PP (43.8%) against Columbus’ top-ranked PK (94.4%). Monday night's meltdown, however, only makes tonight's game much more interesting.

Take me back to On Goal Analysis.

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