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A Study in Contrasts

Ales Kotalik watches the puck slip behind Jose Theodore, opening the scoring in Calgary's 5-3 win
Ales Kotalik watches the puck slip behind Jose Theodore, opening the scoring in Calgary's 5-3 win
AP/Nick Wass

“We're all talking about that we want to be in the playoffs. But we've got to go earn it and earn a chance. Now we're in position where we're just trying to earn a chance and see what other teams do.” – Jarome Iginla

Any resemblance between the slumbering sad-sack sludge that was bombarded 5-0 in Beantown Saturday afternoon and the desperately-seeking-salvation group that caused Capital punishment in Washington on Sunday must be purely coincidental.

Yes, the names on the back of the jerseys were the same, but the bodies that occupied them seemed decidedly different. There was earnest urgency instead of passive pessimism. There was determined desperation instead of lethargic laziness. Unleashing an attack that has been far too infrequent this season, the Flames poured four pucks behind a pair of Washington twine tenders before the game was 20 minutes old and held on for a well-deserved 5-3 victory over the NHL’s top team.

As persuasive as the victory was, it will only be regarded as a momentous moment if the team can run the table, win their remaining seven games and pray for that a dramatic climate change in Colorado buries the Avalanche.

One can only imagine what was filtering through the frazzled minds of the Calgary Flames as they prepared to face the meticulous machine known as the Washington Capitals. If Saturday’s mind-numbing, confidence-deflating and emotionally embarrassing 5-0 loss to the Boston Bruins – a defeat that may have sealed their post-season fate – wasn’t enough, the club had to face Alexander the Great and his posse of puck pursuing pugilists with the rumor mill spinning and the city of Calgary cascading.

On Saturday evening, the Hot Stove Lounge panel on CBC television’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast put the Flames on the front burner and stirred the pot by submitting a rumor that Calgary team president Ken King and general manger Darryl Sutter were on their way out. Only two potential replacements were mentioned - Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson and Team Canada gm Steve Yzerman.

I won’t play the blame or name game until this unfortunate season finally comes to its inevitable conclusion. While the beast still breathes and the heart still beats, this season lives. Until the team is done, my version of taps won’t be sung.



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