Let the Good Times Roll: Calgary Flames Starting To Finally Realize Potential

Steve McSweenSenior Analyst IMarch 24, 2010

OTTAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 09:  Christopher Higgins #21 of the Calgary Flames skates during the NHL game against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place on February 9, 2010 in Ottawa, Canada.  (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

Never before has the cliche phrase "we need to take it one game at a time" been more true than right now for the Calgary Flames.

And that is exactly what they're doing as they have quietly put together an 8-4 record over the past 12 games. Keeping them within reach of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

That is if the teams they are chasing can start to slip up, which is a big 'if' considering the clubs ahead of them, namely the Detroit Red Wings sport a 7-2-1 record over their past 10 games.

It looks as though if there is any team the Flames can catch, it may be the Colorado Avalanche who sit four points ahead of Calgary, but have sported a mediocre 5-4-1 record over their past 10.

Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators continue to win going 7-3 over that same amount of time, even though they are worse off then Calgary when it comes to having a bona fied NHL scoring threat.

Yet, they continue to win, and get valuable points in their quest to lock down a playoff spot. The Preds have made a believer out of me, and the top teams in the West should fear the potential of meeting them in the first round.

The same could be said about this Calgary team that is finally finding it's groove, and playing a solid team game after hitting a bump in the road that derailed them worse than Milli Vanilli's singing career.

While the top seeded teams in the West, San Jose (4-5-1), Chicago, and Vancouver (5-3-2), have been cooling off over the last two weeks, the Flames are playing with some swagger and confidence.

And we all know once the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, anything can happen, especially with the parody that exists in the NHL these days.

Finishing atop the Western Conference standings may not be the best route to take, especially when teams like the Flames and Wings have been in playoff mode early trying to earn the 8th and final spot.

It may be why the Blackhawks, Sharks, and Canucks are doing there best interpretation of the Weezer song Photograph..."if you want it, you can have it."

The Flames are deeper than they have been in recent history, with ten or twelve guys who have either scored 20 goals in an NHL season, or are more than capable of doing it.

While they are also deep on the blueline, even with the departure of Dion Phaneuf, as not many teams can boast having seven legitimate NHL defensemen in Jay Bouwmeester, Robyn Regehr, Mark Giordano, Steve Staios, Ian White, Cory Sarich, and Adam Pardy.

And for those who are keeping count, Ian White has more points (1-6-7) then the aforementioned Dion Phaneuf (5 assists), and a better plus-minus rating since the deal, So Darryl Sutter didn't do too bad afterall.

Then there is the goaltending.

Miikka Kiprusoff is playing his best hockey since 2004, with a record of 32-23-9, a 2.21 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. Meanwhile Vesa Toskala is a more than capable back-up who is only two years removed from winning 33 games for the Maple Leafs.

It may be the best goaltending tandom that the franchise has ever had, with all respects to Mike Vernon and Rick Wamsley.

Yes, Calgary is deeper than they have been in a long time, and they are beginning to realize it.

Which is good news for fans of this club, but bad news for their opponents.

Especially if they make the playoffs.