SUN Hockey Pool

Flames find themselves

RANDY SPORTAK

, Last Updated: 7:43 AM ET

As much as Calgary Flames fans had to be relishing their team's performance Thursday night in that 2-1 win over Colorado, they have to be asking questions.

At least one big question: Where has that been all season?

Not being a believer in the possibility teams can "flip-on the switch" when the time comes, it's mystifying how the Flames could play such a complete game against the Avalanche, yet not play that way with any regularity before this season.

Quite possibly at all.

That was a textbook game from the much-maligned squad.

Calgary's penalty killers didn't give up a shot -- and we know Colorado has the worst road powerplay in the league, but still a notable achievement.

The Flames were efficient and effective on the powerplay, moving the puck quickly and getting it to the net ASAP, something that had been lacking too often.

And the defensive game? Well, even those who hated the dead-puck era before the lockout had to marvel at the job they did closing passing lanes, picking up the trailer and limiting Colorado's players from creating any offensive momentum.

Had it not been for Jose Theodore between the pipes for Colorado (what a turn-around he's had this season) it would have been an old-fashioned shellacking, done and dusted by the end of the second period.

All in all, it was exactly what's been advertised all season with this Flames squad.

Now comes the tough part: Do it again and again and again until you're in first place in the Northwest, which is where this team should be in light of all the injury woes their rivals have had.

FLAMING C-NOTES

Defenceman Anders Eriksson may be an honourary Canadian, but it's obvious the Tre Kroner is still in the big Swede's heart. He and wife Beth have two daughters, Brooke and Abby. For those keeping track, their first initials make ABBA. Ah, Thank You for the Music, because Bubba will have some trying moments with his Dancing Queens when they're teenagers ... If Matthew Lombardi would use his speed regularly like he did the other night in drawing two penalties, people would easily forget the long stretches he's gone without scoring goals. Then again, if he would use that amazing speed with regularity, he wouldn't have 20-game slumps and wouldn't be in a third-line role for long ... Speaking of Lombardi, he may just have a top-six job awaiting next season as Daymond Langkow and Craig Conroy -- as well as Stephane Yelle -- are all pending unrestricted free agents ... Anybody else still surprised Joe Sakic didn't get his milestone 1,000th assist against the Flames Thursday? After all, he's made a career of using the Flames for his whipping boys and had a share of big goals and points at Calgary's expense.

LEAGUE WIDE

Certainly, San Jose's Torrey Mitchell didn't mean to send Minnesota defenceman Kurtis Foster crashing into the boards. Nor did he mean for the collision to break the leg of the former Flames draft choice (traded away for the unforgettable Petr Buzek). Still, he hit Foster right in the numbers and that is worthy of a suspension. It's not that much different from Randy Jones' hit on Patrice Bergeron, and Jones was given two games. By the way, why is it the majority of GMs don't want no-touch icing but the bulk of players do? ... As a former goalie -- although not any good -- I have to feel for Vesa Toskala after allowing that goal from nearly 200 feet -- even if he does play for Toronto. That puck was bouncing the whole way down the ice and that's a scary feeling because you know it's going to take a wacky hop eventually.

HOCKEY TALKY

One idea that deserves serious consideration is making the faceoff after any penalty take place in the guilty team's zone. Then again, we're wishing teams enjoyed a full, two-minute powerplay regardless of how many goals were scored because that would cut down some stupidity ... More proof the Chicago Blackhawks are finally stepping into the 20th century: President John McDonough wants all 82 Blackhawks games televised next season.

QUOTE TO NOTE

"I told the players, 'I don't know how some of us can sleep at night -- not doing what you do to the best of your capabilities.' We're compensated quite well, and the people who watch us pay quite heavily for us to do that. This isn't Sunday lunch-hour hockey. We're playing in the National Hockey League, the best league in the world. For anybody to take that for granted and not to perform ..."

-- New York Islanders head coach Ted Nolan, who didn't need to finish his sentence


Videos

Photos