The San Jose Sharks, your current leaders of the Western Conference, are a force to be reckoned with. Going into last night's game against the Calgary Flames, the Sharks were a ridiculous 35-5-5 on the year and an even more absurd 20-0-2 at home.
That's right. They were undefeated at home in regulation.
And yes, that's also right. It's January and just about the halfway point of the season.
The main point is that the Sharks are really good. That's why last night's score probably raised more than a couple of eyebrows around the league. Not only did the Flames beat the Sharks in San Jose in regulation, but it was the second time in as many weeks they had defeated the Sharks. And if the Sharks are really good, how good does that make the Flames?
The Calgary Flames sent a message loud and clear to the rest of the Western Conference last night, declaring themselves one of the West's elite teams.
Now make no mistake, the Flames have been pretty good all season long. They won six in a row in late October, but have lost some big games all year. Case in point, they're still 0-2-2 against Chicago and Detroit this season. However, their current four game win streak -- and they are 11-1-1 in their last 13 -- may have proven otherwise. Of those 11 wins, six have come against the bottom half of the western conference including Nashville, St. Louis, Minnesota, Edmonton. One more was against the lowly Senators.
The Flames have been beating teams they are supposed to beat, which is always a good thing. But things really got serious when they took two against San Jose. One last week in Calgary, one this week in San Jose, won by a combined 8-3 margin. That has firmly established them as serious western conference contenders, separating themselves from the pack, ahead of fifth place Anaheim by nine points and also ahead in their division by nine points.
It's not hard to imagine that gap widening by the end of the month. The Flames next six games are against Phoenix, Colorado (2), Columbus, Buffalo and Nashville. None of those five are elite teams -- teams the Flames should beat on paper.
Victories Show Flames are One of Western Conference's Elite originally appeared on NHL Main on Fri, 16 Jan 2009 16:29:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.