They can start salvaging their first-round NHL playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings by living up to their billing at home.
The Flames host the Wings in Game 3 of their Western Conference quarter-final Tuesday at the Pengrowth Saddledome (8 p.m. ET), after getting their hats handed to them in 4-1 and 3-1 losses to open the series at the Joe Louis Arena.
Calgary had the most NHL home wins during the regular season with 30 compared to only 13 on the road. The Flames are 2-0 against the Wings at the Saddledome this season.
“Coming home doesn’t count for anything,” Flames head coach Jim Playfair said. “Coming home and being committed to being a hard-working team gives us a chance.”
And all the seventh-man adrenaline the home crowd can give the Flames won’t mean much if Calgary doesn’t improve on a number of fronts on their performance in Detroit.
Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff kept those two losses from becoming blowouts in the face of a combined 97 shots.
Detroit is showing no early signs of their first-round swoons of recent post-seasons.
So far, this series has looked very much like No. 1 versus No. 8 in the Western Conference.
The Wings have had the better, faster legs and thus the lion’s share of puck possession, while walking the tightrope with the on-ice officials far better than Calgary, whose lack of discipline was a major factor in their losses.
“We’ve been playing the way we wanted to play, but I think we can control the game for 60 minutes even better,” Detroit captain Niklas Lidstrom said.
At home, Calgary will have the right of last line change, which could free captain Jarome Iginla from the clutches of Lidstrom. Iginla has two shots on goal this series.
“We do have to find ways to have the puck,” Iginla said. “We’re not getting the shots and they are and the big reason is they have it.”
And with Detroit bottling up Iginla, Calgary needs more than a combined six shots from Alex Tanguay, Kristian Huselius and Daymond Langkow.
“Obviously I think Jarome has a lot more to give,” Playfair said. “Their top players have outplayed our top players.
“(Tuesday) night is a game we expect that to be improved upon.”
The Flames have to cycle the puck more effectively through the offensive zone and get more shots on Detroit goaltender Dominik Hasek, who has seen just 20 and 15 respectively from Calgary.
“Get pucks to Hasek from every possible angle.” Playfair said. “You’re not going to score on Dominik Hasek very often on your first shot.
“It’s going to be second shot, your third shot. Maybe he doesn’t have his stick in his hand by the time you score because you keep pounding away on it.”
Hasek expects to see more rubber in Game 3.
“I think these games are going to be a little bit different and I can expect more than 20 shots,” he said. “They’ll be home and will be throwing everything at us, so I expect more traffic and more work for me this time.”
It’s difficult for Iginla to shoot at Hasek when he’s on the bench watching his team kill penalties, which they took five of in the first eight minutes of Game 2. Two of them were needless cross-checking minors.
The Flames’ lack of discipline has hampered their ability to generate momentum and has allowed Wings power-play quarterback Mathieu Schneider to tee up the puck a lot from the point.
Detroit led 2-0 after the first periods of both games. The second goals have stood up as game-winners and both came when Flames were in the penalty box.
“Put a team like Detroit on the power play, they are going to kill you every time,” Flames winger Tony Amonte said.
As much as Detroit outplayed Calgary in the first two games of the series, the Wings know the Flames can wrest some momentum back with a win at the Saddledome on Tuesday.
“In all my years of coaching, as long as teams hold serve at home, it makes it a long series, so you’re going to have to find a way to win on the road,” Detroit head coach Mike Babcock said.
Notes – Both Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr (knee) and Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi (concussion) are said to be game-day decisions. Bertuzzi sounded more hopeful than Regehr that he would play Tuesday . . . Calgary beat Detroit 2-1 in their last meeting at the Saddledome on March 20.