January 22 2010 12:55AM
We've all heard of long weekends but the Calgary Flames' upcoming weekend might seem especially long.
The boys in crimson are off as far as regularly scheduled National Hockey League action is concerned but head coach/chief critic might have some very labour-intensive chores in mind for his chaps between now and the resumption of play on Monday night when the St. Louis Blues visit the House That Kevin Lavallee Built.
The six consecutive Calgary losses speak for themselves in regards to setting the tone for the skipper's fame of mind, but now there's the added weight of having the Flames fall to the fringes of the top eight in the Western Conference, or right out of it depending on how you choose to look at these things.
The Red Wings are either just ahead of Calgary in the battle for eighth spot by virtue of having a game in hand or the Flames have the edge on Detroit thanks to owning more notch in the "Win" column, but far more important than tie-breaking niceties is the fact that it's the Detroit Freakin' Red Wings the Flames are going eyeball-to-eyeball with for a post-season berth, as much as this can be regarded as a playoff-position battle with 30-something games to go.
Even in their watered-down, oh-my-gawd-there's-Todd-Bertuzzi-on-the-first-power-play-wave state, the Wings are an ominous crew with which to be battling for anything.
By the time the Flames take the ice against the Bluenotes, it will have been 20 days since Calgary's last regulation victory and if that seems too shortsighted a way of looking at life, consider the 9-13-3 record since the start of December. Now consider how even more wretched that 50-day record looks given the five-game winning streak (with three of the victories coming against the NHL's Little Sisters of the Poor -- Edmonton and Toronto) in the middle of it.
Theoretically, the Flames' closing January schedule is soft (of the four next opponents, only Phoenix is in a playoff position) but these days no one connected with the Flames and their fandom should be big on theory, especially the one routinely espoused by the general manager about Calgary being an elite club.
Oh, and by the by, is there absolutely any chance the Flames and Oilers (losers of nine in a row) will both still be on their losing streaks when they hook up onre more time on Jan. 30? That's the Hockey Day in Canada finale, so we can imagine a breathless nation tuning into this one.