By Cole Parkinson
Two long standing curses have been broken already in this early NHL season, both of which are incredibly surprising when you look at the longevity of both.
Depending on how you look at it, one may be bigger than the other but I think both fan bases are equally happy to see them broken.
The Calgary Flames finally won a game in the dreaded Honda Center in Anaheim which snapped a 29, yes 29, game losing streak.
The last time the Flames strolled out winners in Anaheim was on Jan. 19, 2004 when the Honda Center was still Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim and the Ducks were still Mighty.
Darryl Sutter was still behind the bench in Calgary and Mike Babcock was getting his first real start in the NHL, so yeah it’s been awhile since Calgary was able to leave Anaheim with two points.
That was also the year the Flames went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final before losing out to the Tampa Bay Lightning and I know plenty of Flames fans say that the cup went to the wrong team all because of the no goal (or goal if you’re a Flames fan) that was called back.
Since that fateful year, the Flames have been owned in Anaheim, it truly is shocking that they couldn’t squeeze out a win in 29 games but those thoughts won’t be around any longer.
The Flames finally edged out the Ducks in a 2-0 affair that saw Mike Smith notch his first shutout of the season and his first in a Flames sweater, as well as Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund hitting the back of the net.
While the game probably won’t be the most important either team plays this year, you gotta think the Flames and their fans will feel a lot better if the two meet up in the playoffs like they did last year.
With both teams expected to be playoff teams I know I wouldn’t mind watching the two meet up once again.
I think I know how Flames fans felt after the win because the Maple Leafs threw the proverbial monkey off of their backs just a few days later.
While Calgary hadn’t scratched out a win in Anaheim in 29 straight, the Maple Leafs hadn’t beat the Montreal Canadiens in 14 games, home or away.
So which is worse?
I don’t know, neither are something fans will want to remember but I know that they will be distant memories in the following days.
Toronto, meanwhile, hadn’t beat their rival Habs since Oct. 1, 2013 but that will be no more after Auston Matthews put home a beauty in OT against Carey Price.
Now Toronto has been brutal the past decade minus last year and the lock out year (I’m counting it because it was the first time the Leafs made playoffs since Mats Sundin was on the ice) so it isn’t all that shocking that the Habs have had their number for three straight seasons.
I thought for sure they would have beat them last year with the team actually being a competitive squad but they couldn’t get it done.
This year, though, they must have not wanted to let it linger because they got the W in their first meet up of the season.
With the Maple Leafs starting off hot and the Habs not so much, it feels nice to see my team at the top while the Canadiens are at the bottom due to their lack of scoring.
Of course I would love to see the Habs finish outside of the playoff picture, they have Carey Price so he alone could propel them into the playoffs if he plays like we’ve seen him play in the last few seasons.
The Leafs on the other hand can score like nobody’s business and lead the league in scoring.
But their defensive game has been shoddy at best.
You have to think that Babs will be doing his absolute best to get the d-core and the forwards to tighten up in their own end much like he did last year, especially in the stretch run and into the playoffs.
I think if the Leafs continue to score like they are, it’s pretty likely we’ll see them again in the playoffs but it’s the Leafs so I’ll never ever guarantee anything in Leaf Land because I’ve been burned plenty a time.
One thing is for sure, the NHL season is in full force and I don’t know about you but this is the best time of the year for any sports fan.
The NHL is rocking, MLB postseason has been tons of fun, NFL is right in the middle of the season and the NBA is right around the corner with regular season games coming up this week.
This season doesn’t last for long but boy is it worth it for the few weeks that come every year.