April 05 2010 08:43AM
Well, after an Easter to forget for the Calgary Flames and their faithful, just where does it sit now? With all the positive vibes coming from a well played 2–1 victory in Denver, a lot of it was undone with a 4-1 loss in Chicago on Sunday afternoon. Let's take a look at the situation as it sits now.
The Flames fell by that 4–1 score to Chicago, their 8th consecutive regular season defeat at the hands of the Central Division Champions. Including playoffs, Calgary has lost 12 of their last 14 games against the high-flying Hawks. It was a frustrating game in many ways, with the Flames unable to convert upon chances early on, while also not being able to cash in on opportunities trailing 3–1 in the final frame. Goals early and late in the first didn't help matters, and as usual, the Hawks took advantage of mistakes and made their opponents pay.
It was not a banner afternoon for Jarome Iginla, who finished -2. The Calgary captain is having issues down the stretch, with just one goal in 13 games. In that span, he's -6. Overall, Iginla hasn't scored in 8 straight games. Against Chicago, linemates Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman were also -2, as were d-men Jay Bouwmeester and Ian White. On a positive note, rookie Flames forward Mikael Backlund continues his strong play, and was once again one of Calgary's top players. His assist on the lone goal now gives him 5 points in 4 games.
To make matters worse, the Colorado Avalanche pulled out two points in a 5–4 overtime triumph at home to San Jose. The Avs lead 4–2 at one point before a Sharks push tied things heading into the extra frame. A John-Michael Liles point shot served as the game winner.
What it Means
The Flames loss decreased their Elimination Number to 3 games, meaning any combo of Flames losses and Avalanche wins. The subsequent Colorado victory now has that E# sitting at 2, with 3 games remaining for the Flames and 4 for the Avalanche. In terms of points, Colorado needs 4 in their remaining 4 games to clinch, providing they win at least once, which would guarantee them the tiebreak.
The Calgary loss also clinched wins for the 7th place Kings and 6th place Red Wings. Los Angeles did not play Sunday and sits with 95 points, the maximum number Calgary can reach now. However, with 44 wins, they have guaranteed themselves the first tiebreaker over the Flames. As for Detroit, they lost in regulation in Philadelphia, but already have 96 points; more than Calgary will be able to accrue this season.
What Happens Now
Calgary gets set for the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night at 7:30 pm (TSN, The FAN 960). It will be the final meeting between the teams this year, with Calgary holding the series edge winning twice so far. In their last meeting on March 19th, Calgary survived a late push to hold on for a 4–3 win. The Sharks are coming off a Sunday OT loss to Colorado. The Flames then play Minnesota on Thursday at the 'Dome before finishing their regular season at GM Place in Vancouver on Saturday night.
The Avalanche also play Tuesday night, on the road in Vancouver. The Canucks have had Colorado's number, winning four of the five previous meetings, including both at GM Place. It's the first of a back-to-back set for the Avalanche, who then play Wednesday in Edmonton. Colorado is 3-2 against the Oilers this season. The Avalanche are 9-5-1 on the first half of back-to-back sets, but just 4-9-2 on the second half. Colorado finishes their season Friday and Sunday, at home to Chicago and Los Angeles respectively.
Things look a whole lot bleaker on Monday morning than they did on Saturday morning, but lets see if the Flames will keep us interested until game #82 like a lot of us thought they would.