Let's make it official
After weeks of uncertainty the Calgary Flames are officially eliminated from Stanley Cup playoff contention. This ends days, weeks and months of faint hope and un-needed stress for most Flames fans who still wanted to believe this team was destined for the big dance.
It was the 3rd overall pick in the 2009 draft, Matt Duchene, who officially eliminated the Flames, when he scored the shootout winner in Vancouver tonight. That’s officially; unofficially it was over when the Flames decided to lose nine straight and Darryl Sutter mashed his hand on the big red panic button sitting next to his telephone.
Flames fans can at least breathe now. It might not be the sigh of relief they wanted to be taking but at least it is over.
No more wondering if the moves that Sutter made were the right ones.
No more wondering if Colorado, Detroit, Los Angeles or Nashville would lose tonight.
There will not be a playoff game played in Calgary for the first time since 2003.
This ends of streak of five seasons in which the Flames made the playoffs every year; a run that ties for third amongst active streaks in the NHL only behind Detroit (19 seasons, soon to be 20) and New Jersey (12 seasons, soon to be 13).
Is this something the Flames should be proud of? Sure, especially coming off of seven long years where playoff hockey in Calgary was something of a distant mirage. The days of the ‘Young Guns’ and Captain Todd Simpson were dreadful years in Cow Town and the last seven years have helped erase those horrible memories.
Unfortunately, the Flames have not been able to do much with those playoff appearances as they have been bounced four straight years in the first round. But, this is nothing different for the Flames franchise. Since 1986, the Calgary Flames have made it passed the first round only four times – 1986, 1988, 1989, and 2004. In three of those years they made the cup final, winning once in 1989.
Basically, what I am trying to get at is that the Flames have never really been clutch in any sense of the word. Only in the miracles runs of 86’ and 04’ and the cup victory in 89’ have the Flames had any real success in the NHL. It is hard to gauge what the real problem would be with all of those first round exits. Bad match-ups, unlucky breaks, choked, not good enough, bad goaltending, etc. The excuses are endless.
Looking at the stats though there is one season that becomes quite comparable; the 91-92 campaign.
Where in years prior the Flames were posting 100 point seasons, they failed to crack the 75 point plateau and missed out on the playoffs entirely; only to bounce back the next year with a 97 point season. This was of course the year of the famous ’10 player deal’ with the Leafs which sent Doug Gilmour to Toronto in exchange for a bag of pucks and three skate sharpeners.
Coincidentally, the Flames made a monumental deal with the Leafs this season that saw a premier player and top prospect go the Leafs for two soft forwards, another third line grinder, and a semi-decent defenceman.
This, much like 91-92 was, could be a turning point in the Flames organization.
It is up to the owners now to realize the problem and get rid of it before the dilemma becomes too dire and the Flames miss the playoffs for the better part of the next decade.
Darryl, it is time to hit the ol’ dusty trail.
This has been,
Newman on the Flames
P.S Calgary’s other team is making a run at the Memorial Cup. I will be with them the whole way this spring. Click here to read more: http://www.examiner.com/x-42438-Calgary-Hitmen-Examiner~y2010m4d6-Hitmen...