Apparently records don’t matter to the Calgary Flames. Even with a seven point lead, the Flames felt like the underdog in their 3-2 loss Sunday night at T-Mobile Arena. Currently, Calgary is in 1st place in the Pacific Division but are highly aware of how dangerous a healthy Golden Knights an be.
Well, they’re the best team on paper. They’re clearly the best team out West, maybe other than the team that owns the Stanley Cup, if you look at it.
It’s not even that close, to tell you the truth. -Darryl Sutter, Calgary coach
That’s high praise coming from a two-time Stanley Cup winning coach. Sutter won with teams that didn’t win their division, twice. In 2012 & 2014 the LA Kings finished 3rd in the Pacific Division yet went on to win two silver chalices. Sutter’s Kings were never considered Cup favorites but he believed they were as deep as any opponent they faced. In Sutter’s first Stanley Cup run, LA finished the season with 95 points and eliminated a 111 point Vancouver Canucks club in five games.
— Taranjot Vining (@Str8OuttaCGY) December 6, 2021
During the shocking five-game upset, Sutter wasn’t surprised his overlooked 8th seeded team found success against the 2012 President’s Trophy winner.
We feel fortunate they could fit us into their schedule tonight. All you have to do is listen to everything. You can’t imagine how they could lose a game again. -Sutter on facing Vancouver (quote from March 26, 2012)
Quite like those championship Kings teams, this season’s Golden Knights are in a similar position. Endless injuries, games remaining, and points available will make it challenging for Vegas to overcome the deficit and capture another Pacific Divisional title. Which means Vegas will need to win one, two, three or even four series beginning on the road. No matter where they land Sutter considers the Golden Knights the biggest threat in the conference.
If you want to get out of (the West) you’re going to have to go through here. Or if you want to get in, you’re going to have to beat this team. -Sutter
Certainly, Edmonton and Calgary have talented rosters but when fully healthy no club is as deep as Vegas. Having William Karlsson back in the lineup was one more step to becoming a complete team again. Add Jack Eichel to the roster and it furthers Sutter’s comments. The Flames may end up winning the division this season but will be considered an underdog if they face the Golden Knights in a seven game series.
You just look at what they’ve done the last few years. Obviously, Finals, Western Conference Finals, I think Western Conference Finals in the bubble again. They’re very experienced, very skilled and they play fast and obviously that’s the next step for us, is being able to come into buildings like this where it’s a fun, hostile environment, but to be able to get points in these types of situations. -Chris Tanev, Flames defenseman
The final standings didn’t matter when Sutter won his two Cups and it’s possible he’s seeing a familiar pattern with Vegas. Or this could all be a ploy to motivate his players and inflate the Golden Knights confidence. Either way, he’s the appropriate guy to make such strong statements.
One has to wonder what an overly candid coach like Sutter would say if he had to deal with the Golden Knights laundry list of injured players? Maybe something like this.
He has a sore back. It’s that old line. `I’ve got a weak back.’ `When did it happen?’ `About a week back.’’ -Darryl Sutter, Jan. 7, 2014
We can only hope for a Golden Knights-Flames postseason series.