Wednesday, March 31, 2004

The Long drought is over!

For the sell out crowd in Calgary Wednesday night, the future is finally here. Having sat on the sidelines through every playoff year since 1995-96, the hometown Flames are going to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Calgary clinched a playoff spot Wednesday night with a 1-0 win over the Phoenix Coyotes, Mikka Kiprusoff and Jarome Iginla the two big factors in tonight’s appointment with hockey destiny.

Kiprusoff recorded his fourth shut out of the year as a Flame, stopping 27 shots and earning a standing ovation as he shut down the Coyotes with four minutes to go in the third. With a last gasp flourish of shots each individual Coyote was turned away unrewarded.

Jarome Iginla scored the Flames marker and put himself into a tie for the goal scoring lead with Rick Nash of Columbus. Iginla has two more games to make the title his own as the Flames finish off the season against Los Angeles and Anaheim this weekend.

The two games could also help to improve their standing in the West Division. By Sunday they could possibly move as high as fifth place, though it’s probably of no importance where they finish now, just making the playoffs was the goal. Now the real work begins, the Flames who have developed into a solid, hard working team with excellent goaltending could be the team that gets the most mileage out of the playoffs this year.

For Darryl Sutter it keeps returns him to the playoffs, and shows why the Flames were so anxious to secure his services for Calgary. Up until last years playoffs Sutter had never missed a playoff round in his career, and had he been on the Calgary scene a little earlier last year he might have made it one year earlier. Regardless, his steady stewardship of the Calgary lineup has paid off big results, the team has accepted his guidance and responded accordingly. And now get to have a taste of the playoff derby, something none of them except for Iginla have been involved in.

The long suffering Flames fans are guaranteed of at least two more home dates now, playoff ones. There’s nothing to stop the team from keeping the ticket line ups stretch out through April and into May.

No comments: