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Meet the Flames Defense

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There is a certain amount of familiarity the Hawks have with the Flames Blue Liners.  The Flames currently have former Hawks captain Adrian Aucoin (I just threw up a little) and Jim Vandermeer on the team.  They also  have Anders Eriksson playing in the AHL for them too...  Here's a look at their defensemen stats:


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Adrian Aucoin 81 10 24 34 -8 46 3 0 3 0 126 7.9


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Mark Giordano 58 2 17 19 2 59 2 0 0 0 82 2.4


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Jordan Leopold 83 7 17 24 -15 24 1 0 1 1 107 6.5


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Adam Pardy 60 1 9 10 3 69 0 0 0 0 38 2.6


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Dion Phaneuf 80 11 36 47 -11 100 4 0 4 0 277 4.0


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Robyn Regehr 75 0 8 8 10 73 0 0 0 0 79 0.0


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Cory Sarich 76 2 18 20 12 112 0 0 0 0 57 3.5


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Jim Vandermeer 45 1 6 7 1 108 0 0 0 0 31 3.2

For the most part though - when you think of the Flames D you think of Dion Phaneuf.  Phaneuf leads all D-men in shots and actually is way ahead of a lot of forwards too.  He's got the size that can intimidate any forward especially since he doesn't shy away from the physical side of the game like many offensive blue liners do. 

In the games against the Hawks so far this year though, Phaneuf has been a non-factor.  He has 2 points and a -7 rating. 

The biggest problem facing all the Flames d-men now are injuries.  Not only did Phaneuf miss time towards the end of the year but so did Sarich and Regehr.  Sarich and Phaneuf are supposed to be back for Game 1 but Regehr, he of the 122 hits and 89 blocked shots, is doutbful.

This brings up a key difference between the two teams.  While the Blackhawks focus on players like Keith and Campbell to give the Hawks D some speed, the Flames focus more on toughness and size.  The Flames have 3 d-men with over 100 hits while the Hawks only have one.  Not to say the Flames are just bruisers - they also have their fair share of speed and a surprisingly offensive-minded core on the D-line (hard not to with Phaneuf).

Lets compare the teams even more:

Defense

SA

SA/G

GF

A

P

Shots for

BS

PIM

Hits

Flames

2441

29.8

34

139

173

804

518

602

764

Hawks

2344

28.6

35

154

189

655

501

333

522

Shots against are obviously a lot more of a team stat but they fit in well here.  The teams are remarkably similar on many stats except for three key areas.

Shots taken:  Obviously Phaneuf has a lot to do with this.  Even if you replaced his nearly 300 shots with 173 (Keith's D-leading shot total) - the Flames would still have 700 shots from their blue liners.  Even with their 149 extra shots though, the Hawks have scored one more goal. 

PIM:  If the Hawks can get the power play teams working well - this could be the biggest advantage for the Hawks in the series.  The Flames are one of the most penalized teams in the league.  Their D has taken almost twice as many PIM as the Hawks and it's not all fighting majors or misconducts.  On the Flames D, 6 players have more than 20 minor penalties with Vandermeer right at 19.  The Hawks only have two players with more than 20 on their squad (Keith and Biscuit).  All this experience must really help the Flames though as they have the 4th best PK team in the league. All four games between the two teams this year have been heavily penalized matches.  Interestingly, while looking up stats for this I found out H

Hits:  This is one of the biggest concerns for the Hawks.  The Flames have the size to make this game ugly if they can make the Hawks play physical.  Luckily that hasn't been an issue so far but it's clearly the Hawks biggest weakness coming into the playoffs.  If the Flames are able to use their size to force the Hawks to the outside the Hawks will need to find a way to adapt.  Read just about every preview and it's all about how the Flames will need to pound the Hawks to win - so keep your heads up boys.