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Thursday, May 6, 2004
Updated: May 7, 2:03 PM ET
Breakdown: Flames vs. Sharks

By Brian Engblom
Special to

San Jose has more balance and can roll four healthy lines with six healthy defensemen behind them. Calgary's myriad of injuries, especially among its top defensemen, will be a disadvantage at even strength.

Robyn Regehr
Regehr has not gotten enough credit for playing a ton of minutes against the opposition's top lines, playing an incredibly physical game in all situations and chipping in a key goal here and there. With the top of Calgary's defensive depth chart fighting injuries Regehr will have to continue to be a steadying force.
Jonathan Cheechoo
Cheechoo exceeded expectations during the regular season and continues to do so in the playoffs. He has become a reliable scorer for San Jose, getting a goal in the series-clinching win over Colorado and netting one of the prettiest goals of the season in Game 1 of that series. He keeps getting better and should be an asset to San Jose's balanced offense.
San Jose power play vs. Calgary penalty kill
Percentages don't matter nearly as much as timing when it comes to power-play goals in the playoffs. San Jose's 14.3 percent conversion rate is not outstanding, but the Sharks have scored when it matters with the man advantage. Calgary has allowed 11 power-play goals entering the conference finals, so the chances are good that San Jose will break through at a key moment.

Calgary power play vs. San Jose penalty kill
Calgary's power play struggled mightily against Detroit, with just one goal in six games, and the Sharks have allowed just four power-play goals through the first two rounds. Throwing out the percentages, the total numbers favor the Sharks, especially considering the Flames' injury problems.

An absolute dead heat. Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff began his career in the San Jose organization playing behind his counterpart in this series, Evgeni Nabokov. That adds even more flavor to a matchup of goalies who were tutored by the same goaltending coach and who are both fundamentally sound with great mental toughness. Kiprusoff and Nabokov are in a similar zone at this point, too, stopping nearly everything thrown at them, so this should be a terrific battle to watch.

Both San Jose's Ron Wilson and Calgary's Darryl Sutter are finalists for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year. Based on that fact, along with the superb job each has done to this point in the playoffs, it's hard to say one has an advantage over the other. The teams have different personalities and attributes, but each coach has been able to push the right buttons to get the most out of his players.

No one imagined Calgary would be in this position, playing for a berth in the Stanley Cup finals, but the Flames believe in themselves. Their series wins over Vancouver and Detroit have them riding a swell of fan support that is unbelievable. San Jose is a little fresher and Calgary is a little banged up, but emotion is powerful this time of year and the Flames have that solidly in their favor.

San Jose in six.