Nikolai Khabibulin Ends Calgary's Season, Again

Sandy MacPhersonContributor IApril 28, 2009

CALGARY, AB - APRIL 27: Jim Vandermeer #4 of the Calgary Flames is consoled by goalie Nikolai Khabibulin #39 of the Chicago Blackhawks after the Blackhawks 4 - 1 series winner in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 27, 2009 at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Mike Ridewood/Getty Images)

Special teams, Nikolai Khabibulin, special teams, more Khabibulin, and special teams again are the reason why Chicago won this series 4-2, this game 4-1 and are moving on to face the Vancouver Canucks in round two.

Because Calgary couldn't score on the powerplay, they couldn't put the nail in the coffin in games one and/or two. 

Because they couldn't couldn't put a game away with their young, inexperienced opponents on the ropes, the Blackhawks confidence grew exponentially with each victory.

Even the defeats weren't losses for the Blackhawks, as they rallied back from three goals in one game in enemy territory and outshot the home squad by 10 shots in the other.

Looking at the the stark contrast between the Calgary Flames and the Chicago Blackhawks on the powerplay and penalty kill will give you an idea as to why the Blackhawks were able to defeat the Flames in six games.

The Blackhawks have scored 7 times on the powerplay in the series against Calgary, including twice in the clinching game on Monday.  Calgary scored twice on the power play in this series, each in different games and both relatively inconsequential.

Five Reasons Calgary Lost to Chicago

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  1. Coaching and special teams
  2. Goaltending: Calgary outshot Chicago 44-16 and lost 4-1 in game six
  3. Flames had no answer for for Chicago's toughness, Dion, where are you?
  4. Injuries
  5. Nikolai Khabibulin: no, this isn't the same as number 2.  Khabibulin outright stole three games in this series.  He held them in games one and two long enough for his team to come back, and in Calgary he should get charged with grand larceny after Monday night's 43-save performance.

Nikolai Khabibulin's all time record against Calgary is 30-9-3.