Flames, Lightning need to control emotions
ESPN hockey analyst Bill Clement looks at the keys for each team in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals:
The challenge for both the Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 will be managing their emotions. This will be a game won or lost by mistakes, and the team that is more emotionally controlled will make fewer and likely win the game.
Goaltending will obviously also be huge, of course. Both Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff and Tampa Bay's Nikolai Khabibulin have each been outstanding at times in this series, and how they control their nerves will also have a lot to do with which team lifts the Stanley Cup.
What does each team need to do specifically?
Maybe the biggest key for the Flames will be the health of defenseman Robyn Regehr, who was in a walking cast after playing more than 26 minutes in Game 6. Flames coach Darryl Sutter said Monday that Regehr "probably won't play." If Regehr can't go, there will be even more pressure on his fellow defensemen, as well as on Calgary's offense since the Flames will not be nearly as good defensively without Regehr's physical presence in the lineup.
Not much more can be asked of defensemen Andrew Ference and Rhett Warrener -- each have played at least 26 minutes in the last two games -- but Sutter will have to go to the well one more time to rally his troops if Regehr is unavailable. Ference will likely see a lot of time against Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis should Regehr sit out, and someone like young defenseman Jordan Leopold will have to come thorough with the game of his life.
But the single player who could have the most impact on the game is Flames captain Jarome Iginla. He was on the ice for St. Louis' game-winning goal in the second overtime of Game 6 and openly admitted he was not good through the entire game, but expect him to be a man possessed in Game 7. Iginla has not had two bad games in a row this postseason, so the Lightning will have to shut him down again if they hope to win the Stanley Cup.
Ruslan Fedotenko, Vincent Lecavalier and Corey Stillman -- three of Tampa Bay's top six forwards -- were not as good as they could have been in the Game 6 victory and that has to change. With the finality of Game 7, though, expect them to leave nothing in the tank and play a better game.
The Lightning also need to continue the power play success they had in Game 6. Calgary had seemingly taken away Tampa Bay's special teams edge until Brad Richards got two man-advantage goals Saturday, and the Flames will need to stay out of the penalty box in Game 7.
Richards got a fortunate bounce of Kiprusoff's blocker on his first goal and made a great play to strip the puck and beat Kiprusoff cleanly on the second, just the kinds of things big-time players do this time of year. Richards -- who leads all playoff scorers with 25 points -- has certainly managed his nerves and passed every test with flying colors on his way to becoming a big-game player this postseason.
Tampa Bay will also have to contain Iginla, of course. The Lightning's defensive pairing of Darryl Sydor and Pavel Kubina has been fantastic against Iginla during this series, but the two got plenty of help in rendering him ineffective in Game 6. The Lightning backcheckers were hot on Iginla's heels in that game, pressuring him from behind and making it much easier for Sydor and Kubina to stand up and look Iginla in the eyes. If they can keep that gap small again in Game 7 it will be much easier for Tampa Bay to keep pace with Calgary.
Bill Clement played 11 seasons in the NHL and won two Stanley Cups as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
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