The stretch: It’s probably not good that I’m already writing this like a post-mortem

So, MetroGnome was having some fun with haiku the other day — and the particular genius of his poem in particular was that it encapsulated what I’m about to argue in its compact format:

Flames wins are not as
convincing as their losses
fans and coach lament

The key part: “Wins are not as convincing as their losses.” That, in eight words, is exactly what I’ve been fretting about all season. The most excitement I’ve had as a Flames fan this season, outside of watching Dion Phaneuf’s development and Jarome Iginla’s more-than-occasional dominance, has been the squeakers — the pull-it-out-in-the-last-minute games against Phoenix and Florida and Chicago that never seemed to happen the past two years.

I get so excited about that development that I forget that, if all was well, the Flames wouldn’t be pulling it out in the last minute against those teams. They’d be dominating throughout, or taking over in the third period and demoralizing the opponent.

Kind of like Vancouver did in the second and third periods against Calgary the other night. And this is the Vancouver Canucks, they of three lines of AHL talent below a first line that should be a second line. (Seriously, how does Vancouver still have a sniff of playoffs with that forward group? And please don’t respond “Luongo” in the comments, because I know that.)

In fact, the WE PULLED IT OFF mentality that’s overtaken Calgary this season (and, really, last season, the way they barely made the playoffs) reminds me a lot of this other team in the division, the one they’re playing tonight.

Only the Oilers are the same way with a team that looks to be in upward development.

Where is Calgary right now? On the surface, it seems a team with a Top 5 forward, a Top 5 defenceman, a Top 5 goaltender (who may be on the decline), and a bunch of uninspired, aging and, in some cases, overpaid players surrounding them. And you can’t just invent a bunch of emerging players —  you have to draft and develop those guys.

So, yeah, “better” than the Oilers right now. But imagine the same 20 roster guys on both teams next year, and who’s better then?

The Flames may or may not make the playoffs this year. My guess is “may” will squeak through but, really, does anyone have any big expectations for the post-season right now? Not me.

I wouldn’t have expected this on a team captained by Jarome Iginla but, somehow, the problem with this group has become character. A lot of this has been poor choices by the general manager, who’s supposed to be an expert in “character,” but who’s looking more and more like a stubborn old-schooler every day.

I hope, of course, that the group comes together and makes this entry look foolish. I also remain optimistic that, with the Iginla-Phaneuf-Regehr-Kiprusoff core in place, a clever GM who’s learned his lessons can rebuild this team in two years rather than the five it’s going to take here in Toronto.

But shit, if you’re a Flames fan right now and you’re not a bit depressed about the current state of affairs, you’re in dreamworld.


~ by duncan on April 1, 2008.

3 Responses to “The stretch: It’s probably not good that I’m already writing this like a post-mortem”

  1. well, Im glad you got what I was driving at with the poem. It came in discussions between myself and a more optimistic friend of mine when the line you highlight occurred to me. I mean, it’s difficult to think of the last game the Flames played that was a “complete win”. On the other hand, the disappointing losses and “ass-pull” victories come to mind rather easily.

    Im with you at this point – no real hope heading into the post season and looking to see if Sutter has learned his lessons in the summer…

  2. Seriously, how does Vancouver still have a sniff of playoffs with that forward group?

    uh, luongo.

  3. Just good enough does seem to be this team’s motto, but I question whether it’s character or skill level (or something that hasn’t been brough up often, coaching) that’s the issue. It doesn’t sound as if the team is satisfied (in interviews etc) but actions speak louder than words and maybe if we saw 1-2 60 minute efforts strung together it’d be a lot more convincing.

    A lot of times I just look at the play and wonder what the hell is going on out there.

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