After a four-year playoff drought, the Flames aren’t figured to finish anywhere near the top of the new division that plays way too many games in the Pacific timezone. And now I kinda know how a Leafs fan feels. Alas, while hockey’s been big news in The Big Smoke for a couple weeks now (scalpers were obtaining a premium for preseason seats at the ACC–preseason!), I can’t say I’ve been following the Flames exhibition slate too closely. Hey man, the Stamps are in first… and so are the Seahawks, for that matter.
Turns out the Flames have gone 4-2 in preseason play, with their last exhibition game just underway tonight. But I wouldn’t get too excited–four of those six contests were against the lowly Islanders and the Deadmonton Losers. Which means we’ll probably finish poorly enough to avoid a top-five pick again.
Speaking of sixth overall picks, Sean Monahan had a couple goals against the Isles, but there’s been speculation he’ll be sent back to junior. Which gives Flames fans what to look forward to, exactly? The hope that those American kids they got for Iginla learn how to skate? That the ghost of Miikka Kiprusoff’s GAA watches over Finnish countryman Karri Ramo? That swapping dirty jokes in Swiss German with Reto Berra helps Sven Baertschi get his groove back? I dunno guy, but I don’t think I’ve got too much to get excited about here. Not when the title of the team’s top centre-iceman is a toss-up between Mikael Backlund and Matt Fucking Stajan. Forget making the team, Monahan could be on the first line by Christmas!
Gone are the likes of Iginla, Kiprusoff and Bouwmeester–okay fine, so I probably won’t miss Iron Hands that much. But the legacy of Jay Feaster rests on the pile of picks and prospects he picked up in return, and unless Morgan Klimchuk turns into the next Joe Nieuwendyk in a fitting bit of kismet, well, it probably won’t be long before Brian Burke is running the show. And then I’ll really feel the pain of Leafs fans.
Oddly enough, the Flames and Leafs semi-annual meetings occur on a pair of symbolic dates: Devil’s Night (Oct 30) and April Fool’s Day. Which tells me that someone at the NHL office is still stewing over the Dion Phaneuf trade…
Uh, Go Flames Go?*
*I probably won’t start watching hockey until December.