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Handshake Line: Heating Up

To everyone who was so shocked when Calgary qualified for the playoffs and even advanced to the second round: start getting used to it.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

First off, let me give my congratulations to the Calgary Flames on their most successful season within the last decade, and more importantly, a thank you for playing well enough to hold off the Los Angeles Kings for the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division. Ducks fans everywhere (and very possibly a heavy demographic of 27 other fan bases) are greatful.

That being said, it's a bummer your season had to end the way it did. Even though this series was rather one-sided, there are still some very strong qualities to your team that I see propelling them to many more postseason berths in the upcoming seasons.

Young talent. I said in the Calgary offensive preview before the series began that Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau are arguably one of the deadliest up-and-coming duos in the NHL that will very soon establish themselves among formidable threats such as Ryan Getzlaf/Corey Perry, Jamie Benn/Tyler Seguin, and John Tavares/ Kyle Okposo. After watching them in action in these last five games, I stand by that claim stronger than ever. The second goal in Game 4 in which Gaudreau danced through every Duck within shouting distance before tapping the puck across Andersen's right pad to Monahan is just a taste of what these two are capable of, and they will be scoring plenty goals in the future that are even prettier than that one.

Also, I'll still gladly defend the notion that Monahan and Sam Bennett will grow to be a nasty 1-2 punch down the center in a couple of years. Bennett didn't get a whole lot of time in the big leagues this year, but he definitely made his time count with the Flames. Four points in 11 playoff games isn't overwhelmingly impressive, but it becomes slightly moreso when you realize that these stats belong to an 18-year-old rookie who played one regular season with this team and usually got no more than 15 minutes of ice time a night. It's not like it matters now, but I'm personally in the camp that believes he got that puck across the goal line in Game 3.

Karri Ramo. So maybe watching our old friend Jonas Hiller get ripped apart in the span of one period and some change wasn't exactly how you guys wanted to see Ramo enter the series. Regardless, he deserves a lot of credit in keeping a sense of poise about himself after getting thrown to the wolves in a postseason environment against some hot Anaheim sticks. His aggregate save percentage wasn't the greatest, but he really did keep the Flames in the game every night with the exception of his relief effort. Easily his best outing was in the decisive Game 5. I'm sure I'm not the only Duck fan that was growing more concerned by the second that his 44-save effort would steal a win out from under our noses. Between Hiller and Ramo, the goaltending duo in Calgary is a sturdy one.

Fan support. I have no idea how your marketing department, or whatever other power that be, got the C of Red to the state it is today, but I personally found it absolutely amazing that during Games 3 and 4 at the Saddledome, just about everybody was in a Flames jersey. Not a Flames t-shirt, not a Flames polo, not a Flames hoodie, but almost everyone I saw had a jersey on. Do you guys not sell anything else at the pro shop? Is there an anonymous benefactor that donates to the team with the request that there be jersey giveaways in place of the traditional t-shirt giveaways before a game? Regardless, it's something very minor that doesn't affect the team's on-ice performance, but it shows a special kind of passion and commitment to the Flames that I find very cool. Keep doing your thing, C of Red. Your boys will be back in no time.