Flames Fever is running at a pitch I could have never have imagined before. Tonight, it broke a new high.
Tonight was game six in the NHL Western Conference final, pitting the Calgary Flames against the San Jose Sharks. So far, this has produced some extremely frustrating games, most notably when I sit and yell at the Flames’ tendency to monkey around with the puck on powerplays, rather than do what they need to do, which is get in the other team’s face and snap the puck in when the goalie isn’t watching. They’ve done it before many times, and Iginla (in particular) is pretty good with stabbing in pucks on breakaways, so it’s not like they’re not aware that it works. They just need to put it into a little more practice.
We decided to avoid doing the bar thing, unlike our previous times. Why? Well, you can only see so many games in bars before you start feeling the urge to take up smoking and your bank account runs exceedingly low. Such as it was, we ended up at Jensenne and Jon’s place. "We" was Jordon, Mike, Mark, Adrian, Doug, Jensenne, Jon, and myself. (Tamara had to go to some Macromedia conference, and I have no idea where Dan was.)
The game was an intense rush of power. The Flames were playing at home, and the whole city was excited. The noise in the dome could only be counted as excrutiatingly loud (confirmed later on in the evening). The noise in and around the apartment was just as excited, even if in smaller numbers. Each Flames goal came with a boisterous yell (and numerous horn honks from outside), but none so much as when the third and final puck crossed the Sharks’ goal line with tenths of a second remaining. I was leaving a message for Tamara at the time (to inform her of the victory), which went something like this:
"Hey Tamara, it’s Geoff. Just to let you know that it’s 10 seconds left in the game, and Flames are up 2-1. It’s five seconds and OH MY GOD YES YEEESSSSS!! WOO HOOO!!!"
I don’t know if she actually understood what I’d said.
Victory in hand, we followed the rest of Calgary out onto the streets, heading towards Melrose on 17th Ave. It was sheer insanity. I thought the first two times that I’d been down there were crazy. 17th Ave was already a pedestrian walkway by the time we got there — mere minutes after the game had actually finished. The slight spattering of rain did nothing to deter the emotions. The Mardi Gras spirit (most notably the bared breasts that have made national news) was even more amplified. Homemade Stanley Cups were paraded around for all to see, and nearly everyone was Flames attire.
There’s a reason this area is called the "Red Mile".
We proceeded past Melrose, continuing to Ming. I don’t know why we went down there. It’s not a great bar, really, and while we could get drinks, it didn’t really strike me as a great place to be. The one thing that was interesting was watching the near-constant tide of people continually walking west along 17th towards Melrose. We were at Ming over an hour, and the flow rarely curbed. I could not figure out where all these people were coming from!
As chance would have it, I even managed to spot a friend of mine in the crowd. Kristen has had what I would refer to as insane luck in trying to get tickets to the games. (To say I’m jealous is to put it mildly.) I managed to spot her as she wandered down 17th Ave. with everyone else. She was a bit surprised to see me, but couldn’t hear much of what I said. (Remember how I said it was loud? I wasn’t kidding.)
Tamara eventually joined up with us, and Dan soon appeared with his friends. The party would continue well into the wee hours of the morning. But without me. I needed to go home — some of us have to work tomorrow.
For the first time in 15 years, the Flames have made it to the Stanley Cup. We play either the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Philadelphia Flyers. No matter who it is, we can only expect the Red Sea (the crowd at the dome who wear nothing but red) to get more intense, the the Red Mile to get even longer.