I think a lot of fans are silently and secretly preparing their eulogies for the 08/09 Flames today. It's been a dank, cold, depressing spring this year in Calgary; iron gray skies hang lowly above dead trees and the snow dusted ground. Like a scene from Ethan Frome, for those of you familiar.
This particular narrative isn't complete yet, so we don't know for certain if it will finish a tragedy. All the elements are there though, from the Flames now habitual late-season swoon, to the avalanche of injuries to the faint but dwindling hope that drives our protagonists forward but will likely crush them under heel. An all too familiar script for this organization the last few seasons.
Seeing as this may be the final home game of the season, there's still at least one game to celebrate and enjoy, even if the boys fall short. There will be tough questions and finger pointing in the aftermath should the Flames bow out tonight or Wednesday, but we'll leave the introspection till then. On the bright side, Calgary has already won twice at home, the second time convincingly, and have been a strong Home team all year. Dome sweet Dome. Here's hoping the lads have one more good one left in them.
- Dion Phaneuf is "questionable" this evening. If he's consussed, I would expect him to sit, leaving the Flames back-end looking like this:
Leopold - Sarich
Aucoin - Pardy
Eriksson - Vandermeer
Yikes. I've given Phaneuf a hard time this year, but his departure tears a huge hole in the blueline. Especially with both Gio and Reggie already hurt.
- I glossed over the various ugly performances from last game, but also failed to mention some of the stand-out efforts, which were notable due to the relative suckitude of the rest of the team. Boyd, Pardy, Peters and Nystrom all put up strong games, especially the latter who is really doing his best this season to make a liar out of my expectations of him (4th liner at best). I dont think he'll ever score much, but more and more Nystrom is looking the kind of depth guy that can hold is own and/or outperform the other team's depth guys.
- Just once it would be nice if the Flames got more PP's than the Blackhawks.
- Watching the Devils/Canes game yesterday was somewhat encouraging, in that it made it clear that very good teams just sometimes get killed on the road. New Jersey, a high quality club without the sort of injuries afflicting the Flames, were outshot 37-28, outscored 4-0 and were fundamentally outplayed for most of the evening. Their difference makers did jack squat.
This isn't to say that the Flames are therefore guaranteed to win tonight or anything - just that the league is highly competitive and home ice is a genuine advantage. Even very, very good clubs get spanked now and then just as the Flames did on Saturday.
- Feel free to add your own lamentations, words of encouragment and obscure literary references in the comments. This could be the final gamethread this year, so let's make it count!