The black cloud over the Sutter ranch is finally lifting.
I couldn’t help but get that feeling watching the Flames finally get rewarded for their hard work Sunday against the San Jose Sharks by having bounces and good fortune fall their way in a 4-0 victory.
It was a long time coming for GM Darryl Sutter and coach Brent Sutter. It was also inevitable.
Missing the playoffs last season after a terrific first three months was disastrous. In early December, the Flames were 11 games over .500 and had a 95 per cent chance of making the playoffs, according to www.sportsclubstats.com
Then the January swoon hit. Calgary scored just 15 goals in 10 games and lost nine straight. Nothing was going right. With the exception of Miikka Kiprusoff, Mark Giordano and Rene Bourque, the entire team was in a slump. By the end of the season the team was called old, slow, uninspired, and oddsmakers were saying the Sutters would be harvesting the farm come September.
But something special happened during Calgary’s three-game road trip in which it won twice. Team effort and cohesion were taken to the next level and good fortune was soon to follow in 6-2 wins over Columbus and 4-0 over San Jose.
After a season in which the Flames always seemed to face a goalie who was having a career game, Steve Mason and Antti Niemi were sub-standard. And the same Calgary shooters who looked like plumbers and butchers last season looked like snipers recently.
So when mild-mannered Kiprusoff went to the extent of pumping his fists in a fashion we’ve never seen before following the win over San Jose, he surely was expressing the sentiments of the Sutter brothers, who would never resort to that degree of celebration.
So are things starting to go Calgary’s way? Too early to say for sure, but it would be hard to believe a perfect storm of bad luck, bad timing, bad slumps and bad karma could beset the Flames in consecutive years.
Could be it all starts with effort, with Olli Jokinen skating like his gitch are on fire. Good fortune must be the residue.