New Year’s Eve used to be a huge hockey tradition in Calgary.
The Flames, a powerhouse towards the end of the 1980s and into the 1990s had a blistering rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens and with that they’d visit Calgary each and every last day of the year. The games were made classic because the two teams had met each other twice in the Stanley Cup Finals, these games didn’t hurt at all towards that story.
So when the schedule came out in September and I saw Arizona on New Year’s Eve I was somewhat disapointed. Arizona? On New Year’s Eve? Seriously? Sure they used to be the Winnipeg Jets, but we have those clowns back now so that doesn’t matter. But then I pondered, maybe this was the best tonic after all. Play a brutal team on a night when there is too much going on; have the ability to keep one eye on the score while you’re busy doing other things that go hand in hand on the last night of year. Have the Flames run up the score and just relax and barely pay attention …
As it turned out the script was pretty much followed, though not without a hitch or two as the Flames stormed out to a 4-0 first period lead while not really carrying the play and then hung on for a 4-2 win on Saturday night.