Game No. 25: A kinder, gentler Northwest

Ryan Lambert
December 01 2010 05:43PM



Finally a game people can get up for.

This is more like it, right?

It's a game against an opponent Flames fans can actually care about. Sure it's nice seeing them play the league's stars like Ilya Kovalchuk and Mike Richards and Chris Pronger and Marian Gaborik and Sidney Crosby and... someone from the Wild recently. But nothing's better than a good old fashioned rivalry game.

Full disclosure: I no longer hate the Canucks as I once did. They're just not the same bunch of borderline criminals (Bertuzzi, Jovanovski) and crybabies (Naslund) and punks (Cooke, Ruutu) they were in the middle of the decade and, particularly, in the 2003-04 season.

You might not like Ryan Kesler very much, and for good reason, but as an American I am contractually obligated to like anyone that almost toppled Canada on their home ice in the Olympics. The only guy on the team I even vaguely dislike is Alex Burrows, and even then, his impression of Marc Crawford makes it awful difficult to line up against him. God help me, I even like the Sedin twins. A lot.

But the Canucks? The most annoying thing about them these days is their fans, who are awful goddamn smug for supporting a team that has never in its history been very good. And the current campaign is no different.

This year they really should have been one of the best teams in the West, if not the whole NHL, and yet here they are, thoroughly mediocre, one point above a non-playoff spot and bunched in with several teams, like Columbus, St. Louis and Anaheim, that you would deem pretty unimpressive. Nonetheless, they're a point out of the division lead because the Northwest is just about the worst division in the league.

The Flames are pretty bad right now, sure, but no one thought they'd be good either. A win here tonight against a team they pretty well dislike would put them just three points back of Vancouver and four back of Colorado for best in the Northwest, if you can believe that. But that's what happens when No.1 in the division is the lowest point total by a leader league-wide.

Hell, of the five teams in the Northwest, only Colorado would even make the playoffs in the East right now, and they'd be the No. 8 seed.

The point I'm trying to make, I guess, is that games like this are important for the Flames. When every team in the division stinks — and this year, do they ever! — every time out is a helluva chance to win a home ice spot.

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Yer ol' buddy Lambert is handsome and great and everyone loves him. Also you can visit his regular blog at The Two-Line Pass or follow him on Twitter. Lucky you!
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#51 Robert Cleave
December 01 2010, 10:12PM
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As much as I might like to see a few guys run off, or the coach, Ray Ferraro is dead right about one thing: this isn't going to be fixed by a bunch of moves any time soon. The really bad contracts aren't moving unless Doug MacLean gets another GM job, so there might be another 140 games of running in place to endure before things get markedly better.

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#52 hal a pena
December 01 2010, 10:27PM
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the old sicilian proverb comes to mind. cut off the dogs tail the head still bites you,cut off the head and the tail dont wag no more.

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#53 PrairieStew
December 02 2010, 07:36AM
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Robert Cleave wrote:

As much as I might like to see a few guys run off, or the coach, Ray Ferraro is dead right about one thing: this isn't going to be fixed by a bunch of moves any time soon. The really bad contracts aren't moving unless Doug MacLean gets another GM job, so there might be another 140 games of running in place to endure before things get markedly better.

You are right about one thing, Robert - it is the end of next year before you can do anything of significance. Kent enlightened me yesterday ( over at M&G) that even Tanguay has a no trade clause. So, for this year, even if you are out of the playoff picture, the only asset that could be moved to help the team in the future is Curtis Glencross. You know you are not getting him back at $1.2, and even with Staios coming off the books, you have Gio's new deal coming on.

What is troubling though is you are suggesting that 140 games from now things might get markedly better. I'm afraid they could get even worse. Iggy, Stajan and Bourque the only forwards signed in 12-13, and the only RFA is Backlund - everyone else UFA's. You need at least 3 of those guys in Abbotsford to be NHL ready after 2 AHL seasons, and Ryan Howse might be playing at 20.

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