Monthly Record: :
Now this is a switch.
Imagine the Calgary Flames playing a meaningless April? Who would have thought.
Yes, you do indeed sense sarcasm as you read. A great tool in the world of humour, and a great self-defence mechanism for Flames fans starved for playoff hockey.
There's always next year ...
While the March prediction piece provided a DO OR DIE mantra to hang a writer's hat on, April's THEY'RE ALREADY DEAD theme will do little to inspire interest, unless of course you're a masochist.
Thankfully there are some sub plots, just inspiring enough to keep a ravid hockey fan interested until the Saddledome doors get locked later this month
- Will Jarome Iginla score 50 goals?
- Will he win the Art Ross Trophy?
- Will he win the Maurice Richard Trophy?
- Will he win the Hart Trophy?
- Will any other Eastern writers find the inspiration to pen a Iginla is leaving Calgary article without a tiny thing called fact getting in the way.
As a collective the team will be attempting to get back to 80 points and possibly .500 hockey for the first time in a half decade.
Stay firmly planted on the edge of your seats.
The Flames will find eight points in their final seven games, and finish with 80 points this season, but come short of their quest for .500. ... Jarome Iginla will come up short on 50 goals, netting 49, but will still win the Art Ross and Maurice Richard Trophies for point and goal scoring respectively. ... He will lose out on the Hart Trophy ballot to Patrick Roy. ... Craig Conroy will also come up short on his quest for 30 goals, but his 28 goal finish will double his career best of 14. ... Marc Savard will not return to the lineup, either of course will Brad Werenka, the long injured defenceman, who will retire soon after the season. ... Calgary hockey fans will actually surprise many by adding to last year's season ticket base on the strength of Lanny McDonald and Jim Peplinski's return to the fold.
4-2-1-0, 9 points
Win, lose or draw, you know the lowest night of the month could come in Edmonton on April 12 where the closing moments will no doubt have Oiler fans singing "Shananana, hey, hey,hey, goodbye."
That is, if the Flames haven't knocked the Oil out of the playoffs that night.
Although the most obvious goal for Calgary this month is to convert some "easier" matches against Atlanta, Minnesota and Nashville into an eventual .500 record for the season, the Flames will also have ample opportunity to play spoiler to the playoff aspirations of Phoenix, Edmonton and Vancouver.
And of course, there is the small matter of giving Jarome Iginla every opportunity to nail down the NHL scoring championship while solidifying his bid for the first ever Hart Trophy in Flames history.
Only seven games remain. The Flames are out of it. Yet much could still be accomplished.
The Flames will not make the playoffs. That's the easiest prediction of the year. Iginla finishes with 51 goals and wins the scoring title. Conroy finishes with 28 goals. McAmmond reaches 20 goals. Niedermayer finishes with eight. Blair Betts is not called up. Mike Vernon starts one final game, April 7 against Chicago. On April 16, the Flames announce they have 10,500 confirmed season ticket renewals, taking advantage of the early bird discount. Good sign or a bad sign?
3-2-2-0, 8 points
Last month I aimed a little high optimistically, figuring the team to get 19 points. In the end, a five-game losing streak and eight-game winless streak did them in. However, even if they did manage the 19 points I predicted, they would still be sitting in 11th place well out of the playoff hunt with a six-point gap separating themselves and the eighth-place Edmonton Oilers. For the Flames to have had any playoff hope, they needed at least 22 points last month. That would have meant a record of 11-4, which wasn't going to happen.
There are only two questions left to be answered as the season winds down. Will the Flames reach .500? And will Jarome Iginla reach 50 goals? My prediction is no and yes. I'm also going out on a limb to say that Craig Conroy will score 30 goals as well. Now that the pressure's off, the Flames will play some decent hockey down the stretch but it won't be enough to eclipse the .500 mark. With teams like Phoenix, Edmonton and Vancouver to close out the season, Calgary has the opportunity to be big-time spoilers and have a huge impact on the playoff race.
Rob Niedermayer will finish strong, and end up with 10 goals on the season. Mike Vernon will play three of the remaining seven games, including the last game of the season against Vancouver. He will play very well given that opportunity. Jarome Iginla will score his 50th of the year on April 9th against Phoenix. He will finish the year with 54 goals and 95 points. Craig Conroy will score his 30th of the year on the last game of the season.