"It's a day we've waited for a long time, all of us. It's nice to get started again."
Mike Keenan may not have been talking about facing the Colorado Avalanche when he made that statement, but it definitely sums up my feelings as the Avs get set to face the Calgary Flames for the first time since losing the final Western Conference playoff spot to them last season.
We all know what happened: The Streak proved futile for Colorado and the Flames completely embarrassed themselves against the Red Wings in the first round with inept and dirty play. Calgary's old coach was fired and Iron Mike Keenan was brought in to rally the troops (or maybe just crush their testicles with his bare hands).
So far the Flames hasn't done much rallying. In their first five games, they have a record of 2-2-1, including losses to Detroit and Philadelphia in regulation and an overtime loss to Vancouver. Their goals scored to goals allowed ratio is 1:1 with 17 each. They've looked as lackluster in general as they did at the end of last season.
The Avalanche, however, has enjoyed dominant wins and suffered inexplicable losses. In three home games, the Avalanche has won all three and outscored its opponents 15-6. In two road games, the team has lost both and been outscored 8-1. Win-loss-win-loss-win. Colorado will seek to end that annoying trend tonight---but maintain the undefeated home record---when the Flames stumble into the Pepsi Center.
I have long felt that the Flames would be the most obvious team to assume the empty space left by the Detroit Red Wings at the head of the Avs' "Most Hated Rivals" table. The Avalanche certainly plays that way against them. In case you've forgotten, remember how good it felt to watch Lappy beat the living crap out of Dion Phaneuf? Man, that was nice. I could watch that clip all day. And for some contrary MHH regulars, the clip is doubly good since it includes Tyler Arnason getting flattened before the fight---right, thedoctor? I kid, I kid.
In roster news, Jordan Leopold is expected to be back after suffering what appears to have been a minor hip injury, and Peter Budaj will assume his rightful place in goal. Milan Hejduk will take the night off with a sore back, and Marek Svatos will take his place on the lethal RPM line with Paul Stastny and Ryan Smyth.
The action starts tonight at 7:00 PM Mountain time (9:00 Eastern) at the Pepsi Center. I, as usual, will be live blogging away, so if you don't want to feel alone while watching the game, check out the site for frequent clever commentary from me and whoever else wants to participate.