One of the main reasons I'm a self-professed pessimist is so that when my favourite hockey team turns in an effort like the one they did the other night in Vancouver, I am even more ecstatic than normal.
Given my workplace's preference for all things NFL, I missed the first two periods of Saturday's game, and was relieved to see the score tied at two after I had anticipated a blowout. I was even more pleased to see that the Flames were outshooting their divisional rivals 37-16 in the final frame.
Despite many prime opportunities to run away with the contest and regulation and some dim-witted Canucklehead's attempts to blind Miikka Kiprusoff, the game went into overtime and would eventually go to a shootout, where the Flames scored on all three shots, including the winner by resident Mr. Clutch, Jamie Lundmark, who also scored in regulation to tie things up at two after Vancouver had taken the lead. The Canucks scored on two shots and hit the post on another, preserving the two points for the good guys; and boy did they ever need it.
I wasn't aware of exactly how dominant the Flames' effort was before reading numerous game summaries and looking at stats that I have limited understanding of; Jarome Iginla, reunited in a futile first line pairing with Olli Jokinen, had arguably his best game of the season against top-quality opposition, and fired six of the team's fourty shots in Lunongo's direction. David Moss led the offensive charge with eight shots on goal. Not only did the boys in red outchance their rivals offensively, but they also punished them physically, outhitting the Canucks 39-22 and engaging in two lengthy scraps, both involving Brandon Prust and Rick Rypien. For some reason, Canucks fans are upset about this hit, accusing Rene Bourque of hitting Tanner Glass from behind, when Glass, clearly uninjured, exacted his revenge against Nigel Dawes with a similar hit later in the game, and got two minutes for his troubles.
Needless to say, this one feels good after two lacklustre efforts against lacklustre teams.
While an effort and a victory of this magnitude against a team that seemed unbeatable is encouraging, tough times lie ahead, starting with this evening's contest against the Avalanche (8PM, Sportsnet). The Avs own a 3-0 edge in the season series against their rocky mountain rivals, and the Flames would surely love nothing more than to wipe those smug little smirks off their baby faces. Easier said than done. The last time the Northwest division lead was on the line, the Flames churned out a less-than impressive performance that had Brent Sutter fuming, yet again. This is the last chance that the Flames have to make up ground in the six-game series at the 'Dome, as the next two contests will be played in Denver.
Former Flames' prospects Craig Anderson and Ryan Wilson always put on a show against their former team and, if you follow me on Twitter, you already know how I feel about Wojtek Wolski.
With the Canucks hosting the Predators tonight, this game becomes all the more important in the division standings; the Flames could very well find themselves in third place in the Northwest when this evening's events wrap up.
On the other hand, they could also find themselves in first.
Expect lots of locker-room-argument related jokes via Twitter from Adrian Dater; apparently they never get old.
Go Flames Go.