It isn’t smart to make guarantees, but …

Roman Hamrlik, George Johnson reports, has guaranteed victory tonight. That’s a dangerous game. I heartily believe in the “bulletin board material” theory. A team’s attitude — and, in hockey, a team’s anger — can ellicit out-of-body performances and unexpected results. Even from teams that have lost 18 of 19 and dress an AHL-calibre lineup.

Meanwhile, Johnson and the Sun’s Eric Francis quoted a number of Calgary Flames on the desperation theme today. “We’re a better team when we play desperate,” Tanguay said in the Herald. “Only in the third periods of the last two games did we play that way. Now, we have no choice but to be desperate.”

“We’ve got to be a lot more desperate than we have been the last couple games,” Langkow said to Francis.

But it’s not really desperation that Calgary needs to bring tonight against the Edmonton Oilers. Because, really, what is “desperation”? Really wanting it? Leaving it all out on the ice? The admissions that the Flames weren’t playing with enough desperation says a lot, because it’s essentially a confession that the effort wasn’t really there the last two games. Isn’t that a pretty big condemnation of the makeup of this team? Did you not want to clinch a playoff spot early enough to give your overworked goalie and injured skaters a bit of a break before playoffs? Was the prospect of facing a fired up Oilers team with nothing to lose all that appealing? Did you not realize that with the prospect of knocking you out of the playoffs, those young Oilers are going to be running all over the place, taking the body at every opportunity?

So, yeah, bring the “desperation,” thanks. But if that’s all that it took, I could dress in place of Andrei Zyuzin and make a difference.

What the Flames really need is smarts.

It’s picking your spots — which means Dion Phaneuf doesn’t start trying to draw penalties with little jabs until there’s a two-goal lead to pad. And Roman Hamrlik shuts up with his guarantees.

It’s making sure you’re taking advantage of the last change to get your two quality scoring lines out against Bryan Young or Robbie Schremp or Joffrey Lupul.

It’s dressing David Hale if Robyn Regehr can’t go (apparently it’s a knee, details unavailable), and pairing him with Rhett Warrener again. And, yeah, it’s putting Tony Amonte, Calgary’s equivalent of Toby Petersen, on the fourth line where he can’t do any damage.

Smarts is what the Flames and its coaching staff showed during the six-game winning streak. And since we all know that the Avalanche are going to beat the slumping Preds tonight, the boys no longer have options.

So here’s my angry, call-in radio, saying-it-because-I’m-too-passionate-for-my-own-good conclusion: Lose tonight and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s shows that a majority of guys on the team are either not interested in, or not capable of, doing what it takes to win in the playoffs. And if that’s the case, maybe it’s better that they not be there at all.

But, and HG will appreciate this more than anyone, here’s my Roman Hamrlik-inspired conclusion: They’re going to do it.

There are enough players on this team with enough pride to realize that tonight’s the night, and the playoffs are a new day. The guys on the other side backed in last year, flipped the switch and almost won it all. The Flames have top-level leadership in Iginla and Conroy, crazy talent in Huselius and Tanguay, and young superstars-in-the-making in Phaneuf and Lombardi. And, yes, a championship winning coach.

This club can put it together.

Go Flames!


~ by duncan on April 7, 2007.

7 Responses to “It isn’t smart to make guarantees, but …”

  1. But, and HG will appreciate this more than anyone, here’s my Roman Hamrlik-inspired conclusion: They’re going to do it.

    Oooooo! YAY OPTIMISM!

  2. Oh boy this should be interesting. Frankly, I don’t just want to see a win tonight. I want to see a BIG TIME BLOW-OUT. That’ll prove to me there’s something beyond mere talent-evoked inertia when it comes to this team.

  3. HG: Optimism is so much more fun than pessimism. I finally see that.

    MG: I’m with you. 6-0 would make said optimism a hell of a lot easier to justify. Also, I hereby declare republishing rights on the term “talent-evoked inertia.”

  4. I knew you would come around.

  5. Duncan, you call it smarts, I call it focus, but we’re on the same page.

  6. Oh, and I’ll take Toby Peterson over Amonte any day.

  7. daniel alfredsson guaranteed a cup once, and it’s part of the reason i can’t stand the guy (that, and he refused to acknowledge loob’s 50 goal season when confronted with it in an interview once, but that’s another story…). like i said the other day, i believe in murphy and his law. thus, i’m sayin’ the flames are gonna look like chumps after tonight’s game… go habs !!!

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