Calgary Flames

Flames Sunday Census: Picking the Stanley Cup winners

Now that the Calgary Flames are in their offseason, tuning into the playoffs doesn’t have the same amount of gusto as it would have if the Flames were in the Western Conference Final. Out of all four remaining teams, there are legitimate reasons to root against every team, and for the fans, it’s all about picking their poison. Which team do Flames fans want to win the Cup? We asked, you answered.

Setting up for the Stanley Cup

There weren’t many people in the hockey world that would have slotted the Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers, and Tampa Bay Lightning being the four teams to be in the conference finals, but that’s the reality.

All four teams have had some kind of history with the Flames that makes rooting for any single team all the more difficult. At the end of the day, one of these four teams will be lifting the Cup, so the quicker Flames fans can go through the five stages of grief, the easier it will be. The Flames community can benefit from speed-running right through denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, and fast-tracking right into acceptance.

From the poll results, there’s a clear favourite that Flames fans can get behind. Let’s dive into each team and the cases to root for or against them in more detail.

Never Edmonton

This one is self-explanatory. The Flames weren’t cheered on by Edmonton in 2004, and Calgary didn’t cheer for the Oilers in 2006 either. Being “Canada’s team” as the last remaining Canadian club bears little weight in encouraging Flames fans to root for Edmonton.

If the Oilers end up advancing, it’s a nightmare scenario for the Flames, as getting bested in the second round by the Oilers just to see them win the Cup will raise even more “what ifs” for the Flames. Of course, sports don’t work that way and just cause the team that beat you ends up winning doesn’t mean you would have won if you had beaten them instead.

But it would lead to years and years of bragging rights on top of already winning the first Battle of Alberta in three decades for those donning Oilers jerseys and that’s far from ideal.

Not Tampa Bay again

Then of course there’s the Lightning. The running joke is that all three Cup wins for the Lightning involve some sort of asterisk beside it, from actually losing to the Flames in Game 6 in 2004, to winning two straight Cups with the pandemic affecting regular hockey play. Of course, these asterisks are more for fans to jab at one another.

The Lightning are already back-to-back champions and winning a third would pretty much push them into dynasty status. It’d be highly impressive to win the most difficult championship to win in professional sports three seasons in a row—but it’s time to see a new team win now. No one really wants to see the Lightning win their first legitimate Cup at this point in the timeline anyway.

New York can have a go at it

The Rangers and Flames don’t have that much history, but the storyline of the season was the nonstop boos sent towards Adam Fox whenever he was on the ice in the Saddledome. The Norris Trophy winner solidified his status as a top heel in Calgary and he’ll be receiving boos for years to come.

That said, there’s little reason to root against the Rangers otherwise. If anything, their ascent to a potential Cup win can be revered in the hockey world at large to see a team have a nearly unstoppable goaltender and have the team in front of him rally to turn belief in the locker room into results on the ice.

It stings to draft a future Norris Trophy winner and have him not want to play for the Flames, but Fox made his intentions clear and the Flames were able to respond accordingly. The Flames might not have Selke candidate Elias Lindholm nor top pairing defenceman Noah Hanifin if Fox wasn’t as transparent as he was about his intentions.

At the end of the day, having the Rangers win would have little impact on the Flames and makes them an easy pick from the East. They’re well on their way already as well.

Adopting the Avalanche

Now, for Colorado. The Avalanche have some parallels to the Flames with playoff demons, and both teams essentially broke free of them in the same offseason. The Flames finally got through to the second round, and the Avalanche more impressively finally got through to the conference final.

Of course, the pain of seeing the 2018–19 postseason come to the end of four straight defeats at the hands of the Avalanche lingers, but that pain has subsided now that there’s a more recent playoff exit.

Rooting for the Avalanche at this point is rooting for them to avenge the Flames since they’d be responsible for preventing the Oilers from advancing.

Not to mention the Avalanche boasts no other than Calgary-born Cale Makar. One of the best young defencemen in the league, the dynamo constantly impresses any time he’s on the ice and it’s easy to root for a player of his skill level.

Not to mention Calgary Flames legend Jarome Iginla liked the Avalanche enough to join them as a player on the last legs of his famed career.

The Avalanche are clear favourites to win the Cup and the team looks poised to be advancing into the Final. Barring a highly implausible comeback, it’s going to be the Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Final, and they have a good a shot as ever to win the whole thing.

May the best team win

It’s looking like it’ll be the Avalanche versus Rangers in the Final unless their opponents can change the tide, and Flames fans will readily remain behind the Avalanche as their Cup pick in this case.

The Oilers may be “Canada’s team” right now—emphasis on the quotation marks—but the Avalanche are definitely Calgary’s team.

Are there any more reasons to root for or against any of the remaining teams? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @wincolumnCGY.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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