The Calgary Flames, the so-called Cinderella Story of the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals, have tried on the glass slipper and it doesn't fit. The heart-stopping series went the full 7 games, but it's the Tampa Bay Lightning who have earned the right to hoist hockey's most coveted prize over their heads.
As with Game 6, the Flames didn't seem able to put forth a consistent effort tonight. Instead, it was the Lightning who dominated most of the play. Calgary seemed to come alive in the dying minutes of the Third Period after a goal by Craig Conroy, but it was too little too late. The final nail in the coffin came with 1:01 left in the game as Andrew Ferrence was assessed a 2-minute penalty for allegedly charging Lightning player Martin St. Louis behind the Flame net. The call was made by none other than (you guessed it) Kerry Fraser. Even though another penalty was called less than a minute later against Tampa, the time for Calgary's come back had passed.
It was such a good ride for Calgary, one of the last teams anyone even expected to be in the Playoffs in the first place, and it was an equally good ride for this city. Even the glory days of the '88 Olympics and our Stanley Cup victory in '89 couldn't compare to the spirit that has had each and every Calgarian walking on air for the past 2 months. The dejected Calgary Flames will come home, probably with their heads hung low, but they will come home to a Hero's Welcome. They deserve nothing less. And I'm sure the Flames flags will fly from the cars for weeks to come, honoring the valiant effort put forth by our little underdog team.
And who knows? Just because the ugly step-sister came out ahead this time, doesn't mean Cinderella won't be invited to the ball next year...