This has been a most unusual week for the Northwest Division’s would be leaders, seemingly intent on not seizing the moment, both Calgary and Vancouver have seen potentially good things slip through their gloves to the most unlikely of opponents.
Calgary kicked off the parade of surprises a few days ago when they surrendered a two goal lead and watched Martin Havlat lead the Chicago Black Hawks on to a 3-2 Overtime upset of the Flames in their own home.
The Canucks followed up that surprising result with one of their own, allowing those same Hawks to walk into GM Place and take two points away from an uninspired looking Canucks squad on Wednesday night. This after the Canuck’s had played perhaps their most intense game of the season the night before in Edmonton, ripping two points from the Oilers and setting themselves up for a run at the first place Flames. In the end, they squandered the chance and basically split two nights of the schedule, losing a perfect opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the lower teams of the Northwest.
So Thursday comes along and it’s over to the Flames and their chance to recapture some momentum, Calgary arrived in Columbus aware of the underlying turmoil in the Ohio city, threats of trades have been made, Ken Hitchcock looking for a way to improve is underperforming squad has called out the leaders of the team to step up or step out. Thursday, they stepped up much to the dismay of the Flames, who probably had visions of easy pickings at the expense of the league’s third worst team. By games end however, it was the Flames that were looking rather frustrated with themselves after losing 2-1 to the Jackets.
Those were two valuable points that could very well come back to haunt the Flames in a few short weeks as they and the Canucks and Wild battle it out for the top spot in the Northwest.
Things won’t get any easier for Calgary as they continue their eastward trek, they next play the Sabres this Saturday night, and two points will be a little harder to come by on the shores of Lake Ontario than they should have been off the state that shares Lake Erie.
The Western teams have been making a bit of noise of late about wanting to see more of the eastern teams, weary of the inter divisional battles that live up to the term familiarity breeds contempt, however, if they keep losing to the lesser sisters of the league they may wish to just stay in their own backyard and battle it out amongst themselves.