I know its August 6th, but lets look at October, because really its only 53 days away…
How much does October mean to the Flames? Is the first game of the season really indicative of whether or not they will be raising Lord Stanley’s Mug nine months later? The answer simply is no. But, the first meaningful hockey game of the season is usually the most highly anticipated game of the year by fans and pundits alike. Other than the obvious reason that hockey is back for another year, it is a chance for the public to see the new toys, to see how the team has changed and renew a sense of optimism in the city; at least for a little while until we overanalyze every little question mark that the new season brings with it. How will Jay-Bo gel with the Regehr and Dion? Will Kipper be the Kipper we once knew? Will Iginla regain his scoring touch that took him over the fifty goal plateau twice? Light will be shed on these questions on October 1st, 2009 at 8pm MST.
The Flames start the 09-10 season with four games against Canadian opponents and 9 of their first 13 games under the saddle. With so many rivalry games to start the campaign, it should not be difficult to rev the engine early and get a quick jump on the season.
However, in saying that, the Flames have not won their season opener since the 2001-2002 campaign when they blanked the Oilers 1-0. The Flames do not start quickly. Last year they were pummelled 6-0 by the Canucks in GM place, and continued to lose 4 of their first 5 games, before reeling off 6 straight wins. In 2007, they started with 3 consecutive losses before waking up and winning 4 of the next 5 games. Whether its spotty defence or shaky goaltending the Flames are never the horse that is first out of the gates; or second, third or fourth for that matter.
So why do we assume every year that this year will be different?
Because we hear stories and musings to the contrary.
We hear Kiprusoff is working out even harder to be in shape and ready this year, then he goes out and lets 6 and 5 past him in the first two games. We hear the defence is really coming together as a group, then they let the Sedin sisters slap pass their way through the group without being touched. We hear with the addition of Cammalleri that our PP was going to be stronger than ever but we go out and start the season 2 for 31; a blistering 6.5% clip.
Maybe this year Brent Sutter will somehow convince the team that the September 26th pre-season tilt against the Canucks is actually game 1, so they can get the shellacking out of the way 4 days sooner.
I have come to expect a slow start from the Flames every year, and why will this year be different?
A writer for the Denver Post already predicted the Flames will win the Cup this year. That is great and all, but how about we focus on game 1 before we look at game 101.
This has been,
Newman on the Flames