Oh would you look at that, it’s a regular season hockey game. I haven’t seen one of those in a while.
All hockey teams start their seasons with the stated goal of winning the Stanley Cup, and that’s as noble a design as any. But realistically, most teams don’t have a chance of lifting the hallowed trophy over their heads. As few as four teams can, in any given year, really be considered Cup contenders, especially on opening night.
The Calgary Flames are not one of them.
Being completely realistic, tonight begins an 82-game, seven-month trek toward what is hopefully a respectable performance. Making the playoffs is a considerably more achievable goal than winning 16 postseason games of a possible 28 come springtime. (Although, if Calgary wins that frequently in the regular season, that’s only a 94-point season, which, while better than they did last year, still wouldn’t get them into the playoffs most seasons.)
But at least the season is rather likely to start off with a W. Let’s be honest: this Oilers team is probably almost as bad as it was last year. While the offense is likely to improve, the defending, and particularly that provided by the forwards, is going to be subpar to put it lightly.
Three rookies up front. Two of which are on one line. Think it’ll be easy for more veteran clubs to push these lines around, especially early in the season? You bet. And if there’s one thing the Flames have going for them in that regard, it’s a group of guys who serve little more purpose than shuffling the puck around and burying it along the boards.
Nikolai Khabibulin goes against the Flames tonight as well, and nothing says "inspiring confidence" like a goaltender whose spine looks like one of those broken slinkys and who hasn’t played since November 2009 and who is 37.
And the defense in front of him? Yikes. It’s anchored — ANCHORED — by Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney. And Theo frigging Peckham is on it.
Slam dunk easy W for the Flames tonight, right? I’m allowed to call at least one, aren’t I?