May 12 2010 09:39PM
So, is it Next Year yet?
It's been a full 32 days since the Calgary Flames stopped playing hockey this season but it has seemed no longer than seven-and-a-half months.
For those in this corner of the NHL world who chose to continue paying attention, there was much rejoicing when the Vancouver Canucks were once again ousted by the Chicago Blackhawks. Heaven forbid if Flames fans lose the ability to lord their one Stanley Cup over their left-coast neighbours.
There was much wailing in Vancouver over the spring-long absence of Willie Mitchell and the late-stages lameness of Sami Salo and Alexander Edler, but that elicited nothing more than scoffs in the other Canadian city touched by May Madness, Montreal having lost blue-liners Andrei Markov and Paul Mara while making do with a lacerated and crocheted Hal Gill.
Oh, speaking of the Canadiens, it would seem a member of the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge with a Calgary connection has been making some noise in the post-season. We're speaking of course of Roman Hamrlik, who is one of an astounding 11 Habs players advancing to the third round despite being a minus player in the first two. Old Hammer at least has the cold comfort of knowing he's not Marc-Andre Bergeron, who is a mere minus-10 so far in the post-season (and only heaven knows how deep in the red he'd be without Jaroslav Halak).
The Canadiens have been responsible for a lot of remarkable numbers so far in the playoffs, not the least of which is their 5-0 record in elimination games. This one's a real attention-grabber, too — Montreal ranks 11th in the playoffs with 2.79 goals per game, well back of the two teams they've eliminated, namely Pittsburgh (3.23) and Washington (3.14).
And yeah, OK, that Michael Cammalleri dude almost everyone in Flames Nation is talking about and pining over? Calgary general manager Darryl Sutter certainly deserves heat for some of his personnel moves but the magnitude of the abuse he's absorbing on this Cammalleri business is preposterous. Based on decibel level, some of the angry Flames fans presently groaning about the decision to keep Olli Jokinen over Cammalleri (an overly simplistic view to begin with) must surely have come from the mob of disgruntled natives criticizing Cammalleri's production (one goal in six games) during Calgary's series with Chicago in 2009.
Besides, what would a playoff season be without Southern Alberta anguish about the one that got away? Remember Jean-Sebastien Giguere in 2003? Martin St-Louis in 2004? Derek Morris in . . . OK, forget that last one. Just wait if Cammalleri and Hamrlik and the Habs should happen to hook up with Scott Nichol and the Sharks in this year's final.