**Note: Also appears on the Calgary Herald’s Q Blog
Sitting at my desk, counting down the hours until 8 p.m., waiting like a kid at Christmas for the playoffs to start, I can’t help but reflect on what a topsy-turvy season it’s been for the Calgary Flames.
If the 05/06 season epitomized “heart-attack” hockey, and the 06/07 season epitomized “identity crisis,” I’d have to say that this season was definitely the year of the “roller coaster.”
Indeed, the highs have been high, and the lows have been low. You couldn’t figure out what team you’d see any given night. The wins have been spectacular, and the losses have been apocalyptic. Last year, everyone was calling for former head-coach Jim Playfair’s head. Now, with a new coach and, at times, play resembling the same kind of laziness we saw last year, every player on that team has had the harsh heat of the spotlight shown on them at various points in the season by fans and media alike.
Yet, if you look at where we ended, things don’t look so bad.
In a weird week which saw Flames fans thanking the Oilers for defeating the Canucks allowing us to make the playoffs, and ending with Canucks fans wishing us luck due to the classy actions of the Flames led by Iginla against Vancouver where it was, quite possibly, Trevor Linden’s last game in a Canucks uniform (during one of the most touchy-feely, lovey-dovey games I’ve ever seen; seriously, it made me feel kind of funny watching it), the Flames managed to finish the season with a positive goal differential (in other words, scored more goals than scored against; shocker, I know), above .500, and saw Iginla score 50 goals for the second time in his career.
The most amusing stat? Finishing the season with the same record as we did in 03/04.
In any case, it remains to be seen what team shows up tonight. Will they be the dominant team we’ve seen at times throughout the season, scoring goals, blocking shots, playing the body, and hitting everything in sight? Will they be guilty of standing around, watching the puck, and playing poor team defense due to the forwards not helping out the defense corps? Will the much anticipated “Hale Storm” finally strike with his first goal of the season (well, technically, I guess it’s too late for that, sorry David)? It’s hard to say what we’re going to get.
Kind of like Christmas, actually.
I, for one, look forward to the surprise.