I am not being held hostage. I feel I really should make this clear. Nor am I being offered obscene amounts of money to write this piece. As we continue on with SBN’s Rivalry Week, we are going to take a look at one of the bigger and more historic rivals this team has: the Calgary Flames.
We’ve been treated to some outstanding playoff series between these two teams over the course of the existence of the rivalry when the Flames moved to Calgary from Atlanta in 1980. There’s been a ton of great regular season contests too, and while it’s never going to be on the scale of the Battle of Alberta rivalry the Flames share with the Oilers, it’s certainly an underrated one over the years. With both teams rebuilding and adding some exciting young pieces, the potential is there for bright futures for both squads.
So while we’re not going to ever not hate these guys, there are some things about them that we can begrudgingly say we like about them, and we’ll start it off with the biggest chunk of their future:
1- Matthew Tkachuk
He’s brash, even a little cocky. He’s easily a top 5 pest in the league right now. He drives Drew Doughty absolutely bonkers. And he’s got the talent to back up all that trash talk. And while he’s a royal pain in the ass to play against, he’s the kind of guy you need on your team if you want to win. Sure, he’s gonna make life miserable for the Canucks for quite a while, but you can at least take comfort in knowing he’ll be doing that to the Oilers, Kings, Ducks, Sharks, Golden Knights and Coyotes as well as whatever the hell Seattle is gonna name their team (hurry up already, dammit!)
2- They like Swedes
If there’s one thing the Canucks are known for, it’s their legendary Swedish stars. And while Calgary’s been a team that doesn’t usually make you think of excellent Swedish hockey players, they’ve added a few over the last few years who are a big part of their core. Led by Mikeal Backlund, they’ve also got Elias Lindholm (the NHL’s 2nd best Elias!), Oliver Kylington, Rasmus Andersson and Erik Gustafsson. That’s a big chunk of Swedish talent, and a big part of why they’re getting better.
3- The Saddledome
No, really. Maybe it’s a nostalgia thing, but I think it’s a pretty special place to watch a game. It may not have the cachet of MSG, or long gone rinks like the Montreal Forum or Maple Leaf Gardens, but it’s got history (the 1988 Olympics) and it’s definitely unlike any other rink in the NHL. I’ve been there twice: once to watch an open practice when I was in high school, and a couple years later, on a school trip to see the 88 Games. Getting to watch that legendary Soviet Union team as they made childs play of the Germans was something I won’t forget.
It may not happen that this year gives us another Canucks/Flames playoff battle, but we can look forward to this rivalry heating up again in the coming years.