I've been following the Flames for the past two seasons or more with thanks and input from my friend, colleague and fellow Boltsmag contributor Keith as we usually spend time talking things up each and every day during the hockey season.
The Flames have been through a lull much like the Lightning had been in one before last season. With the longest active streak of non playoff appearances, the city of Calgary lusted for the opportunity to get back in the playoffs again -- let alone reach the Cup....
And now they are (at most) seven games from possibly raising the cup in Calgary.
I told Keith after their first round victory over Vancouver that they had the next round made as they faced the Detroit Red Wings. I looked back to the Lightning facing off against both teams and if it weren't for Roman Turek, the Flames would have been a much tougher opponent for the Bolts on their journey in Western Canada... As for Detroit -- the Lightning went toe to toe with them and (I believe) would have eventually won if overtime wasn't simply 5 minutes in the regular season. That being said, I believed Calgary could and would go toe to to with Detroit and best the Red Wings.
And it happened.
Hats off to Darryl Sutter who in my opinion is now a virtual shoe-in for the Jack Adams award for best coach of the year. Battling injuries and the tough, tough Western Conference and taking his team all the way to the finals.
The "Pass the Friggin' Torch' Tour 2004 is almost at its last destination -- what is left is a little thunder and Lightning... We'll see if that can happen at Wachovia Center tomorrow night.