1. False hope
Watching the Flames’ pretty impressive comeback win over Dallas on Sunday was frustrating.
Not that they didn’t play well or anything like that, but I was annoyed — who me? no way. — with all of it for two reasons. The first should be pretty clear: Where was this team against Edmonton or Columbus or Minnesota or, to a lesser extent, Colorado? Like, this was a really nice game for the team against one of the hottest teams in the West, and oh by the way the Pacific is super-duper tight, so if anything, the Stars had about 10,000 times more to play for than the Oil, ‘Jackets, Wild, and Avs. Let’s not act like this five-game losing streak did anything to make the Flames hungrier down the stretch or anything else. It basically screwed them, not that they weren’t already.
And the other thing that’s annoying about is that it allows the "Well they still might make it" crowd to keep on blathering on that they still might make it. Mathematically, yes. A meteor could hit the rinks of every team ahead of them and rain fiery death on all teams involved, allowing the Flames to forfeit-win their way into the playoffs and everyone would be pretty happy. Jay Feaster and the upper-upper management types will be pleased, in particular, because it will have vindicated the whole "going for it" thing that I’m so fixated upon due to it having been ludicrous.
The fact of the matter is the Flames need to win out to even have a shot of making it at this point and… oh what’s that? They have to play Vancouver twice? Yeah. Forget it. Probably should have just won against Edmonton and a very banged-up Minnesota to get those four points, eh?
And this isn’t even one of those "Well hey jeez Brent Sutter should have gone to Iginla in the shootout" things, because getting worked up over those relatively niggling details — particularly because while Jarome Iginla is many things, "good at the shootout" sure isn’t one of them — seems an utter waste of time. The issue shouldn’t be who did and didn’t go in the shootout. The issue should be why the Flames were in the shootout against the goddamn Wild when they had a two-goal lead.
It’s all just so insipid and really, it’s being parroted from the team itself because that’s the kind of garbage they have to say to keep people even remotely interested in yet another fruitless throwaway season that was, in retrospect, pretty terrible. Sutter and Feaster kicking garbage cans and yelling swear words in front of the press was a particularly nice touch, though. Really got everyone good and focused on something that wasn’t the team losing to crap teams for a minute.
2. Can we stop praising performances now?
This is associated with above, but here we go.
Headline in the Herald yesterday morning was something like, "Comeau and Co. pick good time to break slump."
Yeah, hmm, I’m gonna go ahead and disagree. A good time would have been two weeks ago. A great time would have been a month ago. Six goals in five games against some pretty bad teams, then five goals in one game against a pretty good one. That’s not a good time to break the slump, that’s an annoying time to do it.
At this point, really, what does scoring five against Dallas matter? What would scoring nine have mattered? If doesn’t help unless you can go back and apply the extra goals to previous losses to smooth out your goal differential across a few games.
3. More on Gaudreau and Arnold
Well Flames prospects Johnny Gaudreau and Billy Arnold keep contributing for the Boston College Eagles en route to what appears to be a very likely national title.
BC shutout both Air Force and Minnesota-Duluth in college hockey’s "regional" portion of the 16-team tournament. Now, granted, they were the No. 1 seed in the whole thing and they’ve won 17 games in a row, but this Eagles team, man. Wow.
Shutting out Air Force in a 2-0 win doesn’t seem that impressive, but Air Force was at the very least able to get BC out of its comfort zone with a very strong defensive game. They lost anyway. The real test was always going to be Duluth, and that’s where the Flames picks shined.
Gaudreau had a goal and an assist in that one, and Arnold not only had the team’s second goal — in the course of 1:16 early in the second period, mind you — but also played a huge role in establishing the tone of the game. In the very first shift of the game, the puck got forced behind the Duluth net, and while linemate Paul Carey followed in hot pursuit, he ran into a Duluth defenseman and the puck got lost in their feet and sticks. So what does Arnold do? Comes in at about 200 miles an hour and just drills the UMD kid so hard his helmet pops off.
Why was that important? Because Duluth plays a physical, up-tempo game, and had the best offense in the nation this season. And Arnold’s shift said that BC was more than willing to play physical as well. Over the course of the game, that eagerness to hit, coupled with BC shutting the door quite effectively at the back, actually led to some frustration that undid UMD’s chances even further because they were goaded into some pretty dumbass penalties in the final period when the game was still somewhat close.
They’re probably gonna win the national title, as a freshman and sophomore. Which, you know, is really a good way to get things going as a hockey player.
4. What does it mean?
Saw a tweet the other day, don’t remember who by, and it said something along the lines of, "Iginla and Kiprusoff are the last remaining relics of this era of mediocrity, so trade them." That got me thinking.
Is that how some people really feel about them? That they’re at least symbolically responsible for this disastrous last three seasons and are the only reasons management is keeping the team together? If so, that’s interesting, and maybe a little encouraging.
As you’re all well aware by now (I would hope), I favor the blowing-it-up approach to dealing with this aging, ineffective roster. And if some people, even if it’s just a vocal minority, start voicing opinions
Again, I don’t recall who the tweet was by and cannot find it again for the life of me, but if there’s a decent number of Flames fans, even a vocal minority, campaigning for the team to trade its two remaining older assets with any amount of value, that might be the snowflake that starts the avalanche.
What all this losing means for their legacies is something we can discuss later if I remember, which I probably won’t.
5. Howdy pardners!
Season’s over, and I feel like I really earned the Iggy pic this week.