With the Calgary Flames finally having an 'x' next to their name in the standings, along with the rest of the West, I can now finally focus a blog post solely on the Flames' playoff prospects.
The Flames were aided by another spoiler team tonight, as the Blackhawks defeated Nashville 3-1 to ensure that the Predators will finish in 8th and the Flames cannot finish lower than 7th. This avoids an exact repeat of last year's playoffs for the Flames, as instead of facing the Goliath of the Wings they will most likely face the similarly giant Sharks. Optimists will point to the fact that Calgary won the season series 3-1, but keep in mind that all of the Flames' wins were by one goal, two were won in overtime, and most importantly all the games were B.C., or Before Campbell arrived in San Jose at the trade deadline. When the Flames faced the Sharks, the Sharks were like the Flames with more talent when considering their consistency. After picking up Brian Campbell at the deadline, the Sharks caught fire and came less than 10 points from the Presidents' Trophy. I don't see this series being any different from the debacle against the Wings last year.
Fortunately, there is still one hope for the Flames - 6th place and a series against Minnesota. The Flames finish out their season in Vancouver Saturday night, and they can grab the 6th seed if they win this game and Colorado loses their final game on Sunday against Minnesota. (Incidentally, the Wild have a 5-2 season series advantage over Colorado and the Avs and Sharks tied their season series, although all games were played B.C.). I am not even going to remotely suggest that Minnesota would be an easy opponent, but the fact remains that the Flames won the season series 6-2 (5 out of those 6 games being won by one goal, albeit). Simply put, the Flames match up better statistically against the Wild than the Sharks. Yet again, though, the Flames can't get into 6th against the Wild on their own - they have to both win and rely, ironically, on their very potential first round opponent from Minnesota.
It will be interesting to see how tomorrow's game in Vancouver turns out. The Flames could decide that a first round series against Minnesota would be preferable to San Jose, and show up and play like a playoff team, or they could just mail it in like they did in last year's regular season finale in Colorado (after the Flames had clinched the 8th seed due to Colorado's loss the night before). No matter what happens over the weekend, though, it would be nice if nothing else if Jarome Iginla managed to finally get number 50 tomorrow.
Go Flames, and Go Wild (on Sunday only). I'll be back on Monday with my pre-playoff post.
(Sidenote: hey, I got through a whole post without a direct pessimistic comment...I'm sure RinkLighter will probably fix that in the comments though..)
I'll behave. Haha!
Sharks or Wild? Everyone is saying the Wild will be a better match-up for us but they scare me, to see how fast they can be and how slow our D can be....then again, the playoffs are a different beast....I'll take the Wild over the Sharks any day.
SKR... I think between you and RinkLighter, Ek should let you two share Blogging for the Flames as our good buddy Vetts seems to have vapourized... I have a feeling the Canucks will come out flying tonight and it'll be a war... We need to watch Naslund as this is more than likely his last game as a Canuck and will want to say goodbye in style. But in saying that I thinks its the best sceanrio for the Flames. A little emotion is what we could use right now. The team is wound so tight lately they look like they stopped having fun playing. Tonight they just need to match the Canucks intensity and play OUR game, not theirs... A win would surely help our cause and hopefully build a little confidence going into Exel or the Shark Tank...I really don't think it matters who we play honestly. My only fear with the Sharks is the momentum they have given their finish to the regular season. We all know the Flames CAN compete with any team in the league (when they show up). As long as they play like there is no tomorrow (because there isn't), we will move on a give ourselves a chance to win. NO ONE outside of us fans gives us a hope in hell, maybe thats a good thing. As long as the players believe they can...
I have to say, for a 17-year old, Rollins impresses me quite a bit with his blogs. I'd vote for him to take over Vetter's spot. (But thanks for the props geta02it!) As for the Flames, the thing that has surprised me over the past few years is how poorly they handle pressure. Think back to the end of last season when we won 1 of 6 or 7 going into the playoffs before getting hammered by Detroit. Or the Anaheim series the year before and that god awful Game 7. And this year is almost a mirror reflection of last year. How can a team with so many veterans and leaders crumble every time things get tough or the pressure mounts? You can argue how much speed and talent they have - but this is a veteran team. How can they always let things get so bad? Anyway...enough of my pressimism...or realism...however you want to look at it. At least we made the playoffs. Maybe the hockey gods will smile on us and we can win a round or two! You never know, I guess!
Hmm...we got lucky tonight as the Canucks just didn't have the motivation to put in an effort and the Flames won 7-1. Great to see Iggy finally get 50 (after he was on the ice for practically the whole third so that he could) and finish with 99 points. It was also great to see the kids have a great night - Nystrom especially - and the sendoff for Linden at the end was one of the things that makes hockey my absolute favorite sport. Total class. Hopefully, the Wild will win tomorrow. But hey, if you're looking for optimism, the Flames finished with the exact same record as they did in '04. Anyway, the lack of enthusiasm by both teams tonight made me thirstier than ever for the playoffs. Thanks for the compliments on the blog, I was considering entering the blogging contest and am now regretful I didn't.
Agreed with everything. And despite the game being more like a pond hockey match, Iggy getting 50 was great. Seeing the excitement and happiness on the Flames bench afterward was a nice sight. (Coaches, players, and everyone!) I don't think the team has looked that happy/relaxed/excited all year. Here's hoping that helps them loosen up a little and take some of the pressure off going into the playoffs. As Conroy said...it should be fun...just go out and play!! :-p (And yes, you should have entered the contest Rollins. I thought about it too, but I'm too lazy. Ha!)
You guys take out the Sharks, we'll deal with the Wings, and life will be grand in both Calgary and Nashville!
Well it's official now, Flames will play the Sharks in Round 1. A daunting challenge for sure but we can win it if we play like an NHL team..stranger things have happened...
*picks 6 SJ players in his playoff pool* Hey...if the Flames win, I'm happy...but if SJ steamrolls them, I want to get something out of it! :-p
RinkLighter: ideally the Flames win in four straight with each game being like 6-5 or 7-4 or something. Then you win on both fronts! :-p (or the Flames just win in seven which would be more realistic)