going to help us win the big games—playoff games," says goalie Mike
"Besides," says right wing Joey Mullen, "you're going to play their
way, or you're going to play somewhere else." Spoken with the zeal of a
the Flames last week, the Canadiens know something about defense
themselves—that, in fact, being the one thing they do exceedingly well. When
center Brent Gilchrist's blistering slapshot put Montreal up by a goal midway
through the third period, the Habs put on a clinic in how to safeguard a
one-goal lead. They did not allow Calgary a shot on goal over the final 10
lead late in the game, that's our game," said Montreal center Brian
Still, the loss
hardly obscures Calgary's metamorphosis in the last six months, one marked by
new bodies as well as by a determination to control the score rather than break
games open. Steady defenseman Jamie Macoun, having recovered from nerve damage
in his left elbow sustained in a near-fatal car accident, is back on the blue
line after missing all of last season. And tenacious two-way center Doug
Gilmour, whom the Flames acquired from the St. Louis Blues in September, has
proven to be perfect for Crisp's new system.
arrived in Calgary shortly after a civil lawsuit was filed against him in St.
Louis, alleging sexual misconduct with a 13-year-old former babysitter for his
daughter, Maddison. Gilmour has denied the allegations, and the St. Louis
County prosecutor's office says it believes that the Blues may have been
victims of an extortion attempt by the lawyer for the girl and her parents. In
December a grand jury determined that there was no basis for criminal charges.
"As far as I'm concerned," says Gilmour, "the worst is behind me
In the Flames'
dressing room, the Gilmour trade was received with mixed emotions. "Bullie
[center Mike Bullard, who went to the Blues in the deal] was well liked,"
says one Flame, "and Doug had those problems."
personal difficulties, Gilmour's on-ice performance this season—he has 23 goals
and 54 assists—has been remarkable. The Flames had been searching for a center
who could bring out the best in Mullen, a New York City native and erstwhile
roller-hockey whiz. Mullen's uncanny balance and soft hands enable him to do
amazing things with the puck, and in Gilmour, he finally has a center who can
consistently get it to him.
Fletcher's first steal. Two seasons ago he picked McCrimmon, one of the NHL's
best pure defensemen, from Philadelphia Flyer general manager Bobby Clarke's
pocket. But should the Flames make it to this year's Stanley Cup finals, the
trade that will have helped most was the one that moved Wayne Gretzky out of
Edmonton. The Gretzky Oilers had bounced Calgary from the playoffs four times
in the last six years, but with No. 99 now in Los Angeles, there is an
undercurrent of confidence in the Flames' dressing room.
to count the Oilers out. "They are the champions until proven
otherwise," he says. "They have a lot of pride, and the best goaler in
the world in Grant Fuhr. If they go down, believe me, it'll be with a
roar." The night before Montreal beat the Flames, the Canadiens lost to the
Oilers in Edmonton 3-0. Fuhr, who has had one of the worst seasons of his
career, was sensational, playing as if someone had shown him a calendar and
reminded him what's just around the corner.