The Flames, having been eliminated from playoff contention March 31st, didn't have much to gain from tonight. Yet again, I was expecting them to get slaughtered. They've been handling the Canucks much better as of late, but their playoff "drive" was appalling, and the team couldn't look less disinterested.
But the Flames proved me wrong, and that Cammalleri guy gave us dejected Flames fans something to cheer about.
This is not to say the game started off well; Alex Burrows (vomit) scored short-handed 4:36 into the first period. I can't think of a worse way to start off a game, unless the assists were from Matt Cooke and Raffi Torres (coincidently, both played for the Canucks at some point. Coincidently.)
The Flames proceeded to get a measly 11 shots on net through 2 periods. Then the third period happened.
All of a sudden, this rivalry was reignited. The game was fast-paced, there were some solid scoring chances on both ends, and the Flames started to show some drive that had been largely absent through most of the past 10 games.
Cammalleri, one of about 5 guys I'm excited to see play on this team next year, scored the tying and game winning goal. Glencross scored midway through the third to give the Flames their first lead of the game.
Also notable was the NHL debut of Akim Aliu. Only the second Nigerian player to play in the NHL, his first game was incredibly successful. He assisted Cammalleri's first goal, lead all players with 4 hits, and notched 10:34 of ice time. Not bad for a first game!
Yes, the 3-2 win over arguably the Flames' biggest rivalry felt great, but it was also bittersweet. On one end, who cares? Where was this team during their playoff drive? On the other end, finishing the season strong feels much better, and I'm all for preventing the Canucks from getting another Presidents' Trophy.
There are many questions remaining though: what could possibly come from another 9th/10th/11th place finish? Will guys like Jokinen walk? If Karlsson plays against Anaheim, was this the last game we will see Kiprusoff as a Flame?
For now, let's just hope the Flames finish the season with a win against the Ducks, and worry about the rest later.