Calgary Flames deal with an up-and-down start to the 2021 NHL season
By Gage Smith, Staff Writer
In the movie The Dark Knight Rises, our hero Bruce Wayne (spoiler alert: Batman) gets obliterated in a one-on-one fight with Bane, his nemesis. Bane really hates Bruce, and after being in the perfect position to kill him, Bane instead chooses to torture him. He doesn’t do this with machines or by breaking bones, he instead ships Batman off to a massive underground prison in the Middle East to live out the rest of his days.
The prison isn’t anything mind-blowing, just a typical barred-cell prison for the most part. The catch is that it has an open ceiling with very high walls that are possible to climb, but it’s so difficult that only one prisoner in the long history of the prison has managed to escape.
It doesn’t sound that bad, right? However, the prison is referred to as “Hell on Earth.” Bane called it “torture of the soul.” The key ingredient is hope. The thought that one day, you just might be able to make the climb. But you can’t, it’s almost impossible. You’re stuck in a perpetual state of crushing disappointment, but never to the point where you can comfortably resign yourself to this life forever.
You might be thinking this is a bit of a dramatic comparison for what’s been a mediocre NHL season in YYC, and you’d be right. But my point is that the Flames keep giving Calgary hope that they’ve turned a corner or figured something out, only to come falling down the walls of the prison and right back to reality. It would be easier to cheer for an egregious team. At least we’d have no expectations going into every game, and instead be able to laugh off losses and get super excited about wins, but we stay stuck in the vicious cycle built by our own expectations.
On Feb. 6th, things were looking up for Calgary. They had just beaten their arch-rival, the Edmonton Oilers, in a hotly contested game with a 6-4 final score. Calgary would go 3-2 in contests against Vancouver and Winnipeg before facing Edmonton again. They entered the rematch a few days later in high spirits but were edged out in a 2-1 grind. The next game was nothing short of an embarrassment. The final score was Edmonton 7, Calgary 1. The Flames goalie, Jacob Markstrom, had been on a roll until that game, but he was pulled from the net after allowing five goals in two periods. The rest of the team took responsibility for the loss, though, not blaming him for the collapse.
So, coming off of a devastating loss, the Flames could obviously expect to be further embarrassed in their next two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the best team in Canada at the time, right?
Wrong. Second string goalie David Rittich (affectionately known as Big Save Dave) shut out the offensive firepower of the Leafs, and Calgary took a 3-0 win on goals from Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, and Sam Bennett. The next game against the Leafs was a slow, grind-it-out defensive game, and Calgary had the first goal of the game with only a few minutes left. The Leafs managed to storm back and steal it in overtime, 2-1.
They lost, but Calgary had just split a pair of games with Canada’s best team and played well overall. So, they could be confident about their next matchup with one of Canada’s worst teams, right?
Wrong. They took a 6-1 beating from the Ottawa Senators.
The inconsistency is driving fans crazy. If you want proof, take a look at any social media post by the Flames, especially on Instagram. Comments sections are plagued with fans pleading for Head Coach Geoff Ward to be fired or a major roster shakeup to happen immediately. While sports fans are famous for knee-jerk reactions, can anyone really blame them? They’ve been tantalized by flashes of brilliance only to get smacked with reality every other night.
Love or hate the Calgary Flames, you can always count on them to be consistently inconsistent.