ST PAUL, MN - MARCH 11: Curtis Glencross #20 of the Calgary Flames takes the puck away from Matt Cullen #7 of the Minnesota Wild during the third period on March 11, 2012 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. The Flames defeated the Wild 4-3. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
I've tried to write this god damn thing 4 times now and it keeps coming back to one central point-this team is tiring.
The Flames are in Minnesota tonight for the final time this season. The Wild have been in that weird "playing-out-the-string" mode for the better part of two months now; the one that leaves the fans split on whether or not they should cheer for the team to lose (securing a better draft position) or for them to win (the basic thing we want as fans). To their credit, Wild fans have mostly been positive regarding their team's future.
Of course, I don't need to tell you (and frankly, don't want to) that this game is a "must-win" for the Flames. This is an incongruous statement and always has been; until the day comes where 2 points at the end of the season is more valuable in the standings then 2 games at the beginning of the season, I will dismiss the claim out-of-hand. I understand the need for mainstream media members to create narratives; they sell papers.
I suppose it's a bit absurd to say that I'm pretty much emotionally drained when the Flames still have 8 games left to play. I guess it's more that for the past few seasons as they've been drawing to a close my actual emotional level has consistently grown more bi-polar: the losses this year hurt way more then they did in '09, and the wins give me way more joy in '12 then pretty much every other year I've watched this team. This is a ridiculous statement, because I vividly remember the run in 04, the entire 08-09 season, the Young Gunz era, all of that bullshit. I don't know.
The Flames will get some players back tonight, as it's possible Lance Bouma, Chris Butler and Blair Jones will return tonight. Even if those three players were completely mediocre in every conceivable way, their return(s) still make(s) the team better simply by relegating AHL-level players back to the AHL. A tepid "yay" is in order.
Players To Watch
Blair Jones-Because why the fuck not?
Mikko Koivu-The Wild are also getting some injured guys back tonight, their Captain is one of them.
Blah blah something about winning a hockey game.