If I posted this a month ago, it would have been drastically different than the post I’m about to write right now. It would have been upbeat, surprisingly so, and optimistic to a fault. Now, however, it will merely be, in a word, confused.
If you’ve been following the Flames for the last couple of months, I think you’ll know what I mean. You witnessed how to Flames jumped out of the gate, establishing themselves as one of the best teams in the league, with players who could compete for the Hart Trophy, the Norris Trophy, the Calder Trophy, a coach who could easily grap the Jack Adams Trophy, and overall a team that was competing to have the best record on a nightly basis. Now it’s not so clear. The Flames surprised everyone (including me) when they started the season with an incredible record of 17-8-2, which was sheerly unbelievable for a team which all the pundits deemed to finish within the bottom five, and was still obviously in rebuild. I mean, did you see the roster? It was laughable! But somehow, the Flames did it. It didn’t last, though.
Following that amazing start, just as some people really started believing this was going to be a good year, the Flames went on an eight game losing streak. That hurt, especially after having your hopes raised so spectacularly. It hurt even more because I had the time of my life while the Oilers went on an 11 game losing streak (they still suck, I’m happy to report), and I never thought my own team would struggle in a similar basis. They only recently broke the streak. So I can’t say much right now, I really am confused. I don’t know if the team is for real, or if we’ve had an incredible run of luck. I hope it’s for real, but time will tell. This much I can say with certainty, though: if not this year, the Flames will soon be a dominant team in the league. It’s inevitable. Jay Feaster got a lot of hate, but he left us in a good way. Recent struggles aside, everytime I saw the Flames play, they were just fun to watch, and that’s something that hasn’t been said about the Flames in quite a while. And they continue to be that way, even with several notable offensive injuries, and without any offensive superstars. If they don’t find success this year, they will soon. The future looks good for Flames fans.
- Mark Giordano – Need I say more? Even with the team’s recent struggles, he deserves the Norris for best defenceman, and the Hart for MVP if the Flames make the playoffs. He had big shoes to fill when he took over captaincy from Iginla, and so far, he’s exceeded every expectation set for him.
- Defence – Giordano aside, the Flames have had one of the best defensive corps in the league. TJ Brodie would be a number one defenceman on most teams; if it weren’t for Giordano, he would be on the Flames too. He’s a future star. Dennis Wideman has chipped in greatly offensively. Kris Russel is still quietly a great defenseman with a ton of offensive upside. On a team which has struggled in this category the past few years, the defense is really blossoming this year.
- Rookies – Johnny Gaudreau will be a household name in a few years. If his stats weren’t overshadowed by Flip Forsberg’s this year, he’d win the Calder for sure – and he’s certainly still deserving of the award. I haven’t seen a player with such offensive talent on the Flames in a long, long time. Future star. Other rookies such as Josh Jooris and Markus Granlund have also been pleasant suprises, and promise to turn into future cornerstones for the team. Other young players like Sean Monahan and Joe Colborne continue to excel. Truely, the Flames have a very bright future, as the young guns seem destined for success.
- Goaltending – Mostly due to the inconsistency. Sometimes it’s been of Vezina quality, and others it’s been downright embarrassing. If the goalies can get it together, then the Flames might just make the playoffs this year. If not, well, then they won’t.
- Puck possession – it seems like the Flames are one of the worst teams when it comes to this category. Which is concerning, because you can’t win if you aren’t controlling the play. Needs to improve.
All in all though, I think Flames fans should be smiling. The Flames have exceeded all expectations this far into the season. Again, if they aren’t met with success this year, they certainly will soon. At the very least, we can take pride in the fact that we’re still better with the Oilers, who, by the way, can’t say the same statement without being laughed at. The times aren’t all that bad for the Flames right now – they’re actually pretty good.
On a final note, I guess I should discuss the Colorado Avalanche, as I am rooting for them this year since Iginla is playing for them. It’s been a bad year for Colorado. They seemed to have regressed exponentially from last year, when they surprised everyone the way the Flames are doing so this year. I don’t even know why they’re so bad. Well, actually, I do; the defence is horrendous. I don’t know why they aren’t tyring to bring in a good defencemen – there are teams with an abundance of talent on the blueline (but for real, I hope the Flames don’t do anything here). I still love Iginla to death, but I don’t think the Avs will even make the playoffs this year. Still rooting for him though. I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again; if anyone deserves to win the Stanley Cup, it’s him.