Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Could this be the Year?

I don't want to jump to conclusions folks, because there is a big risk of jinxing your team, But could this be the year my beloved Flames make a run at the cup?
This last week was one of the best weeks I can remember in recent history for Flames hockey. It all began with a hard fought home victory against a troublesome Phoenix team. The Flames were able to stick to their game plan, and grind out a 2-1 win over the Coyotes at home. That was a huge monkey off their backs, as they have uncharacteristically struggled at the Saddledome this year.
Next it was off to embark on the longest road trip of this season. First stop, Detroit, and the always dangerous Red Wings. This was set to be a battle of epic proportions. The banged up Red Wings pestered Kipper all night long, but he stood on his head earning a 3-0 shutout, his 32 of his career.
The following night we ended up in Columbus to play the Blue Jackets, with Curtis McElhinney (the back up) in net. It started out really shaky with the Blue Jackets taking a 3-1 lead into the 3rd period. However with 8:29 left in the game the Flames found their stride and scored 2 goals in a 1:28 to tie the game! Then, with overtime solving nothing, we went to the always exciting shootout. After 4 rounds Jamie Lundmark skated in hot and sure, and scored for the winner! Jody and I could barely contain ourselves. It was one of the most exciting games I've seen in a while.
Finally on Monday we were down in Nashville to face the Predators. This game wasn't even close. Calgary played a tight, smash mouth defensive game and walked away with yet another shutout in a 5-0 victory. It was Kippers 33rd for his career.
On top of all this the Flames have had outstanding coaching by Brent Sutter, a wall of a goalie in Mikka Kipprusoff, contributions from all 4 lines, and the consummate leadership of our heart and soul captain Jarome Iginla. As a side note, Jarome was just awarded the player of the month honours by the league for an outstanding November, where he collected 20 points in 14 games (13 goals, 7 assists).
Why am I so excited about this year? Because we appear to have so much depth in the team. On a night where Jarome isn't scoring we have others who step up and do. We are beginning to tighten up more defensively and are playing smarter in our zones. The biggest reason however, is our goaltender. The Kipper is playing Vezina Trophy hockey right now, and is capable of stealing games for us when offensively, we may not be sharp. (The Vezina trophy is awarded to the leagues top goaltender every year)
This team I believe is earning it's stripes. They're learning to play consistent hockey, something that has been missing the last few years. Another shocking stat is our road record. We are the best team on the road right now in the league with a 9-1-2 record. For those of you who may be wondering why that is impressive, it's because those road games are the toughest points to earn, when you are playing in a hostile environment, after being on a plane the night before. This team is looking tough, and mean, and that gives me confidence.
I know it's early, but I'm really wondering. Could this be the year we go for the Cup?