Last night's loss to the Anaheim Ducks has left many Flames fans reeling in frustration and despair today, in fear that the club's slim playoff hopes will not be realized. The team vaulted themselves into post-season contention with a lengthy stretch of improved play and some good fortune over the course of some two and a half months, but with four losses in their past five games and a couple devastating injuries, the Flames have fallen back to down to earth--or more accurately, where most predicted they would finish the season: on the bubble in an ultra-competitive Western Conference, somewhere in-between eighth and fifteenth.
The merits of the team making the playoffs versus missing them and using the off-season to begin the long-anticipated teardown have been debated at length since the team found themselves within striking distance of the top eight, and unsurprisingly, no consensus has been reached. There are those who want to see the Flames make the playoffs even if it means they will just be cannon fodder for the Canucks or Red Wings and there are those who feel that missing out on the dance will serve as a push in the right direction for a rebuild to take place--but will it?
Of course there are strengths and weaknesses on both sides; one side appeals to the emotional never-say-die part of being a fan, while the other side appeals to rational logic and what is likely best for the team going forward, and Flames fans have struggled with an internal and external battle between the two for some time now. I suppose it comes down to short-term versus long-term success, and the way the Flames are built right now, they can't have both--it's rare that an NHL team can these days without going through some sort of a re-structuring process.
After the magic of 2003-04, five consecutive seasons of playoff hockey conditioned us to appreciate and expect the instant gratification of a post-season berth, of meaningful hockey games after early April, even if only for a couple of weeks. Now--or rather, after eight more cardiac-arrest inducing games--the off-seasons are longer; failure cannot be justified with the phrase: "at least we made the playoffs." Maybe we have to learn to wait again in hopes that it will be all be worth it sometime in the (hopefully near) future.
Links after the jump.
The Flames find themselves in tenth in the conference heading into Los Angeles tonight with no one to blame but themselves, although they haven't been receiving much help from their competition of late [Flames Insider]
Matt Cooke was at it again yesterday, this time with an elbow to the head of the Rangers' Ryan McDonagh, putting Penguins owner Mario Lemieux in a very difficult position [SB Nation Pittsburgh]
Once again, Colin Campbell and the NHL have the chance to make an example out of someone who is repeat offender in order to clean up the game; will they get it right this time? [CBC Sports]
Will losing the chance to compete for Lord Stanley's mug help Cooke realize the error of his ways? [The National Post]
Breaking down the Calder Trophy race--who is 2010-11's most deserving rookie? [SB Nation]
Tim Erixon's Skelleftea is moving onto the semifinal in the Swedish Elite League playoffs after a game seven victory over Linkoping [Puck Worlds]
That's it for now, happy monday everyone and have a great week! Hope to see you all tonight in the Game Thread.