March 31 2010 09:13AM
Of all the adjectives that will be used to describe the Flames season once it finally shudders to a halt, "ironic" may actually be the most apt. Flames fans have been beset by bitter ironies this year - I think my personal favorite is Matthew Lombardi rising with the Phoenix Coyotes from the ashes of what appeared to be a defunct organization. Just a little over a year ago, Lombo was dealt to the desert dogs in exchange for Olli Jokinen for the ostensible purpose of propelling the Flames deep into the playoffs. Now Jokinen is irrelevant, his replacement is a $3 million budgetary carbuncle and Lombardi centers the top line on the third best team in the conference. I often picture him glancing at the standings, cracking a beer and laughing his head off.
If that's true, I'm guessing Jay Bouwmeester does the exact opposite. The six and half million dollar defensemen spent the six previous seasons missing the playoffs with the Florida Panthers. One UFA contract later and the poor bastard is right back in the same predicament. He's probably starting to wonder if he's cursed.
Perhaps the crowning irony to 2009-10 is the fact that the Flames season may well rest on the much maligned and recently departed Curtis McElhinney. When Sutter finally raised the white flag this past trade deadline and moved CuMac for Vesa Toskala, it was specifically so the team would never have to pin it's hopes to the struggling youngsters goal pads ever again.
Yet here we are.
With Jonas Hiller out with back spasms, Curtis McElhinney will be starting tonight against the Colorado Avalanche. The good news (which perhaps deepens the irony) is that CuMac has been excellent in Anaheim colors so far: 3 wins, 1.97 GAA and a .933 SV%. I don't know if that means much beyond the fact that even poor NHL goalies can sometimes post nice results in short bursts (right Vesa?) but it's more encouraging than the alternative I suppose.
Also of note - The Ducks are playing out the string and will also lack an injured Ryan Getzlaf tonight. Such is the Flames predicament: cheering for Cory Perry and hoping McElhinney can help more tonight than he ever did when he was with the organization.