The horizon of this 2013-14 Calgary Flames hockey season draws ever near, and, alas, as we’ve become accustomed to over the past few years, will do so without any flair, any pomp, any drama; it will simply end. And while that may be a familiar tune, the remix is DANK, son.
Maybe it’s a byproduct of playing pressure free hockey to close out another playoff-free season, or maybe this group of plucky, ragtag youngsters are truly much better than anyone ever gave them credit for, but your Calgary Flames, since the stroke of midnight that ushered out the calendar year 2013, have been undeniable.
There has been a charm surrounding this team, a beacon of fortune among hushed expectations. Their glint, glintier, their resolve, fortified. Watchability? Oh you betcha.
So while scoresheet tonight tells a tale of a 3-2 loss to the Ducks of Anaheim in a mostly meaningless game, the fans recount an unshakable inkling of hope, one echoed by the masses, helpless feelings of empathy and admiration coming from even the fiercest of rivals and critical of commentators. And in the grand scheme of things…okay well as far as tonight goes that means nothing, but ONWARDS…a brighter future awaits.
If you managed to get past all that melodrama at the top of this post, you might remember that there was in fact a game played tonight. And in fact, as exciting as a game as it ended up being, the first period was played with a conservatism generally reserved for those games where David Jones is in the lineup. While Calgary did hold a 12-9 shot advantage in the first period over those pesky, disease ridden waterfowl, the pace to begin the game was somewhat methodical, as you can be damn sure the Ducks weren’t about to let Calgary run roughshod to the tune of 7 goals over them AGAIN (because, as you’ll remember, that’s exactly what they did last time). As a result, the first goal in the game didn’t occur until 18:57 of the first frame, as young Nick Bonino, who is neither an 80’s muscle car or a Quebec City snow mascot, slipped the puck past Karri Ramo, who had a few gaffes but was mostly excellent again in the Flames goal.
The second period was one for the ages, where defense be damned, it was time for some river hockey. After (surprisingly) impressive rookie Tyler Wotherspoon made a fine play to maintain puck possession in Anaheim’s end, the Burnaby native then played human pinball, bouncing his point shot off noted meatbag Kevin Westgarth before ricocheting off your boyfriend Brian McGrattan into a hilariously yawning cage. Brian McGrattan now has 4 goals on the season, a career high, and this is a thing people are legitimately impressed by. McGrattan and Westgarth were all rewarded for their strong play with extended ice time, and looked to actually be having a decent game, until a shift from Jiri Hudler’s line showed us what actual hockey players can make this game look like, as the Flames ran the Ducks into the ground in their own end until Ladislav Smid faked a slapshot over to a wide open Hudlerite, himself presenting the most open net one will ever see. 2-1 Flames, on what was basically perfect hockey. It was a treat to watch.
And then the third period happened, where they coughed up the lead. The odd defensive lapse and shaky rebound by Ramo allowed Mathieu Perrault to tie the game, and for former Oiler and Ducks caller outer Andrew Cogliano would tuck in the winner minutes later. Still, the Flames gave it their all for 60 minutes, which I realize is the most cliched thing I could ever say, but it didn’t feel forced today. Alas, it wasn’t enough, as the 3-2 score was enough to hold up as the Final, but the crowd went home entertained, knowing the result doesn’t mean a damn thing.
Why The Flames Lost
Not for a lack of effort. Belie’dat. Of course a lack of truly elite talent puts them behind the 8-ball on most nights, but lately strong work ethic and superior puck possession has been enough to trump that trend, but we all know it can only last so long.
Specifically on this night was less of a focus on strong defensive play, as some blown assignments, and quite frankly, some shaky rebounds by Ramo, were enough of a momentum turner to keep Calgary out of the win column, but for the most part, they played admirably tonight given the circumstances.
The Red Warrior
You know what? Fine. Shut up. It’s Brian MGrattan. I know you guys want it, and you didn’t think you were going to get it, so here you go.
In his 300th NHL game, Brian McGrattan, as far as that guy goes, had a good game tonight, and he would actually be better described on this rarest of nights as a positive working towards a win then a negative preventing one. Beyond scoring an early second period tying goal, he was positionally sound and generally in the right place most of the night, and certainly not a liability. In almost 8 minutes (!) tonight, Big Ern brought in a goal on 4 shots and was not as hindered by his own limitations, it seemed.
Grats doesn’t get anything for winning tonight’s Red Warrior, but my guess is he can sense it and feels pretty good right now. Congrats to him. I’m sure he feels how high of an honour this is.
In the End
I’m writing about the Flames right now, and I have to admit, I really like Calgary’s rebuild. They could really do with a lottery win.
— mc79hockey (@mc79hockey) March 27, 2014
I like these Calgary Flames. Sue me.
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) March 27, 2014
Calgary’s at 60% Corsi against Anaheim. Says a lot about both teams I think.
— Travis Yost (@TravisHeHateMe) March 27, 2014
This is just a smattering of tweets from fans of opposing teams and neutral observers who are paying attention to, nay, enjoying the efforts being put on by our local charges, and it’s big that people even outside the fanbase are invested. If you have Oilers and Canucks fans heaping praise onto the CALGARY FLAMES in a period where it takes significant effort to watch them not compete for the playoffs, it’s a sign that there’s some good hockey being played, but I don’t think I really need to delve into that too much for all the Flames fans reading this- you already knew.
So with that in mind, I leave you with what you all came here for anyway: Brian Burke’s hair helmet. Goodnight.
— Romeo Wand (@hawknut) March 27, 2014