Flames vs. Avs Battle Royale: 2006-07 Season Comparison

 

I've read some comparisons of the current version of the Calgary Flames to the 1991-92 version, on this blog and others, where a talented team simply couldn't pull it together to make the post-season. Well, I'm not quite old enough to remember that year, but  I do remember  the events of a a few seasons ago, 2006-07 to be precise, where the Flames and Avalanche's fortunes, up to this point, were reversed. After being in a playoff position for much of the season, the Flames found themselves struggling to hold onto eighth place in the final week of the season, and the ninth place Avs finished one point behind the Flames after a spectacular surge in which only a loss to the Predators on the second-last day of competition allowed the Flames to clinch a playoff  birth. Let's compare after the jump. 

In 2006-07, the Flames struggles began in February--when they went 7-4-3. The Avs also struggled that month, with a record of 5-8-1. In March, Calgary had a good month, earning a 9-4-1 record which included a six-game winning streak, but the Avs bested them with a mark of 11-1-2 during that stretch. Still, the Flames sat at 96 points on March 31st, compared to Colorado's 89, and looked like a lock to make the playoffs. The final week of the regular season is where things began to go south for the Flames:

Compared to the Avs' record in April of that year:

# Date Visitor Score Home OT Decision Attendance Record Pts
79 April 3 Colorado 4 – 3 Calgary Budaj 19,289 42–30–7 91
80 April 5 Colorado 3 – 1 Vancouver Budaj 18,630 43–30–7 93
81 April 7 Nashville 4 – 2 Colorado Budaj 17,462 43–31–7 93
82 April 8 Calgary 3 – 6 Colorado Theodore 17,551 44–31–7 95

The Flames dropped all four decisions in the final week of the season, and the Avs won all but one--coincidentally, that loss to the Predators on March 7th allowed the Flames to clinch a playoff spot despite the fact that they lost to the Oilers that day after blowing a 2-0 lead. On the final day of the regular season, the Avs and Flames played a re-scheduled game to make up for one that was postponed earlier in the season due to bad weather,  which Colorado, who had just been eliminated from playoff contention the night before, won handily to finish only one point behind the Flames. Of course that year, the Avs and Flames still had another head-to-head matchup at this point in the season, which isn't the case this year with the season series wrapping up last night. The Avs also won the season series 5-3 that year, when there were still eight games played between divisional rivals, as opposed to 4-2 this season. 

In a February schedule shortened by the Olympic break, the Flames went 3-3-1 while the Avs held a record of 5-2-0. In March, the Flames managed nine wins and six losses, while the Avs went 6-8-1, with last night's game, the first of April's schedule for both teams, allowing the Flames to tie Colorado with 89 points. While Colorado still holds every the advantage in every tie-breaker category with a game in hand, their schedule is not that much more favourable than the Flames': They play the Sharks, Canucks, Oilers, Blackhawks, and Kings, while the Flames get the Blackhawks, Sharks, Wild, and Canucks.

For both teams, there is only one game there that should be a relatively guaranteed 'W', but the way both teams have played recently, nothing is guaranteed. The parallels between the two probably stop there, however, as their problems are at opposite ends of the spectrum right about now. The Flames are getting spectacular goaltending from Miikka Kiprusoff despite the fact that they've been outshot and outchanced fairly soundly over the duration of a three-game winning streak, while it appears that Craig Anderson might be starting to fatigue under the weight of a heavy workload, despite the fact that the Avs have been outplaying their opponents as of late. It's very possible that we could see a repeat of 2006-07 here, with one team just making the cut and clinching the eighth and final berth in the last days competition. Which team that may be is anyone's guess; Colorado certainly has the advantage at the moment, and it's possible that we could see a reversal of fortunes in 2009-10, three years later, with the Avs backing into a playoff spot despite the Flames' best efforts. Karma's a bitch, right? 

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