Their fans would have preferred to be planning the Stanley Cup parade today; instead they’ll be sitting nervously in front of the television tonight, trying to summon the good vibes to carry their Flames to victory. With the insanity that was Calgary on the cusp of a Cup left behind, the Flames await the drop of the final puck of the 2004 season, having missed a chance to win it all at home, they now must shake that out of their heads and focus on a winner take all game in the unfriendly confines of the St. Petersburg Times Forum of Tampa Bay.
Pressure, it’s always a deciding factor in a championship, which team will thrive on it, which team will succumb to it. In this playoff series the Flames have been thriving on it, throw them a game seven showdown and they’ll respond to a challenge, put their backs to a wall and they’ll find a way out of the jam. They tempt the fates frequently, yet through this incredible run they have always prevailed!
From head coach Darryl Sutter, through the voice of Captain Jarome Iginla, on to the exploits of Miikka Kiprusoff this team seldom dwells on its past mistakes, only forward to the next challenge. What about that phantom goal in game six, perhaps costing them the Cup? Sorry past history there’s a game to prepare for. How about a less than spectacular performance by the usually dominant Kiprusoff? Kipper’s been there all year; he’ll be there for us Monday! Do you have any questions about the captain’s lack of points in game six? Don’t even go there! The wagons are circled, this is a team that wins together and when the unfortunate loss comes around loses together, there are no fingers pointing in the Flame dressing room. It’s all energy channeled to the next game, if there’s a pressure crack forming in the Calgary room, we’ll never see the fracture lines.
It’s all businesses as usual, there’s a game Monday night, the Flames are aware of the odds but have been fighting them all year. The injuries may be mounting, key players unavailable for battle but there are no excuses, there's one more game to play. The Flames don’t need to be told to pick up their game, or to put it all on the line. Such things just are a given.
In a game seven final there’s only room for one winner, only time for one hero. In a room deep in the heart of a rink in Tampa Bay there’s a group of guys ready to go, sometime Monday night or maybe early Tuesday morning somebody is going to be rewarded with a winning goal. The folks in flaming “C” jersey’s figure it may as well be one of them. The captain has done it before in this playoff season, and now has a chance to do it again.
This is a team that is never too high and seemingly never too low. The Flames have just managed to win, when the time came to win. Monday gives them another chance to follow the pattern. Who’s to argue with the logic of that!