Hold on… you want to cheer for… who? The… the Calgary… no no….
THE CALGARY FLAMES!?
Oh…. HELL no…
With a high powered offence led by Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk, the Flames are deeeeeep up front. On the blue line, Mark Giordano has been arguably the best defenceman in the NHL this season and the emergence of Noah Hanifin has made people forget about Dougie Hamilton.
Sure, there are question marks in goal and in the bottom of the Flames’ lineup, but there’s no denying the fact that they’re a strong Cup contender this postseason, again… much to the dismay of us Canucks fans.
As part of our ongoing Bandwagon Outreach Program we’ve reached out to MGMacGillivray from Matchsticks & Gasoline for his take on why we should cheer for the Flames this postseason.
1. First off… how DARE you!? Or… I guess how DARE us… In any case, how is this Flames team different than the ones who have fallen short in recent years?
First of all, hello it’s a pleasure to be making our case to Canucks fans today who are certainly my least disliked of the Pacific Division fanbases right now. I watched a few of your games this week and am now a big fan of Hughes.. Okay, that’s about all the butt kissing I can handle.
I would say that this year’s Flames team has really differed in a lot of areas from past teams, and you already referenced quite a few of them above. Simply put, they are arguably the deepest team in franchise history, and have rolled four lines all season long. They’ve had their Big 5 (Gaudreau, Monahan, Lindholm, Tkachuk, and Giordano) going all season long, but have also gotten some really nice depth contributions as the season has gone on. On defensive side they have the depth, with 10 NHL calibre guys in case injuries occur. They’ve gotten great coaching from Bill Peters this year and I expect that to continue into the playoffs. Finally, they have home ice all the way through to the Finals, and given that Calgary had the most goals on home ice of any team this year, it should give them a distinct advantage.
2. Smith or Rittich? Who’ll get the start in round one and who do you expect to carry the mail for the Flames if they make a Cup run?
All signs point to Mike Smith starting in Game 1. I’ve been in the David Rittich camp for most of the season, but Smith has been the better of the two goalies for the last 25-30 games or so. It’s an interesting dilemma, Smith is definitely the more wild of the two goaltenders but his puck handling could be a big addition during the grind of a playoff run. Rittich however is very consistent so you know what to expect. He probably won’t steal you a series, but he won’t cost you one either. Both have had their good and not-so-good moments this year, but there’s no question that Smith is the hot hand coming into the playoffs.
I could see the Flames switching between the two during the run if needed, but I think starting Smith is understandable. He’s a little crazy but hey, the playoffs are always totally crazy.
3. Micheal Ferland is history, so who on the current Flames roster can Canucks fans hone in their hate on? Bonus question: Is there a player on the Flames roster that Canucks fans can actually grow to love?
Ah yes, the “Ferkland” series, thanks for reminding me. Good times. I don’t think there’s really any discussion as to the player that the Canucks fans will hone their hate on. Of course it’s Matthew “Could’ve been a Canuck” Tkachuk. He’s built for playoff hockey and should do a great job of walking that line to piss off opponents without taking penalties but also popping in a few goals as well.
Bonus: It might sound strange but can I say Matthew Tkachuk again? If you end up jumping on the Flames bandwagon, you’ll see how much fun it is to have him on your team. His offensive game has taken a huge step forward this year and he plays a big role for the team. Another great choice is 35 year old soon-to-be Norris trophy winner Mark Giordano. He’s put in a lot of time in the league, but to see him have a fantastic season like this makes him a great player for people to get behind.
Thanks again to MGMacGillivray for his time and consideration. It’ll be tough to stomach a Flames Stanley Cup victory if they manage to pull it off, but I feel safe in saying that as hockey fans we’d get past our petty rivalry for the sake of seeing another Canadian franchise hoist the Cup.