By Kristy Koehler, March 22 2019 —
Plenty of Calgary Flames fans have spent the last decade living for the memory of the 2003–04 National Hockey League season, when the Flames won the Western Conference Championship. They defeated the Vancouver Canucks in the Conference Quarterfinals and took down the Detroit Red Wings and the San Jose Sharks in the Conference Semifinals and Finals, respectively. The Flames found themselves in the Stanley Cup Finals for the third-ever time — and their first since the team’s 1989 Stanley Cup win.
After losing their 2003–05 series to the Tampa Bay Lightning 4–3, a bout of bad luck has followed the Flames. The NHL lockout came just a few short months after the Flames’ heartbreaking Stanley Cup loss, resulting in the cancellation of the tournament and the trophy not being awarded in 2005.
The next four seasons, the Flames were defeated in the Conference Quarterfinals and then failed to qualify for playoffs at all for the next five years. In 2014–15, the Anaheim Ducks knocked Calgary out in the second round. A playoff-free season, followed by a first-round knockout — again by the Ducks — saw the Flames unable to qualify again last year.
This season — though many of us don’t want to say it aloud for fear of jinxing it — the Flames are doing great! They were the first Western Conference team and the first Canadian team to clinch a playoff spot. For just the third time in the last decade, the Flames are headed to the post-season.
Flames fans have plenty to look forward to in the coming weeks. Downtown bar and restaurant owners are even asking the city to delay resuming construction in preparation for the inevitable Red Mile playoff celebrations — the tradition of bar-hopping and partying in the street along 17th Avenue.
Currently, Calgary sits atop the Pacific Division with a 46–21–7 record. They lead the Western Conference in points, with only the Boston Bruins and the Lightning in the Eastern Conference having as many. The Flames are second in the league in goal differential — with their +56 placing them well above the third-place Winnipeg Jets (+31) but well below the first-place Lightning (+100). Perhaps this is an indicator of a potential rematch between Calgary and Tampa — redemption for 2004 anyone?
If the Flames season were to end today, Calgary would head into the first round of the playoffs against the Colorado Avalanche, but there’s still enough hockey to change that up.
The last regular-season Flames game is April 6. Not only is it a home game, but it’s the finale of this season’s Battle of Alberta — the always-heated rivalry between Calgary and Edmonton.
Calgary’s next game is Saturday, March 23 at 8 p.m. The Flames take on the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.