The Flames have all manner of rivals in the NW division: The Stinktown Shelbyvillians up north and the ever hate-able Vancouver Canucks are the pimaries. The relationship with Colorado has been of a different sort over the years, with the Avalanche spending a better part of their history operating as the Flames NW nemesis.
Prior to the current "cheap out and rebuild" movement, the Avalanche kicked the Flames around for years because they were the far superior club. With names like Sakic, Forsberg, Blake, Foote, Roy, Hejduk, Tanguay and Drury, the Avalanche were heavyweights during a time when the Flames were just glad they didn’t lose by 4 goals every night. In fact, in the early part of the decade I would tune in to games between the two clubs expecting Calgary to lose, but still enjoying the match because Colorado was such a pleasure to watch.
The times have changed. Sakic, Forsberg and Blake are retired and the Flames have a roster that is nearly $20M more expensive than the Avs. And yet…Colorado remains a thorn in our collective sides. Thanks to some great goaltending, some favorable bounces and the Flames general offensive ineptitude, the ‘Lanche won the seasons series last season despite a similar disparity between the two payrolls. This season started out on the same, utterly frustrating foot with Colorado storming back from several deficits to take the first contest 6-5. That stinker was the catalyst for the Flames current four game losing streak. It was also the last time the club managed to put more than two pucks behind an opposition goaltender in a game.
Things get pretty serious for the Flames after this contest, with PHX (X2), SJS, DET, PIT and PHI on the docket this month. There aren’t a lot of weak sisters on the sched in November and the Flames will need to start garnering points wherever they can lest they begin to fall too far out of the race. I’m not going to break out the dreaded "must win" cliche, especially for a game six weeks in to the season, but…let’s just say Flames should really, really try to get some points out of this one.