So here we are, the Calgary Flames sit two points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with nine games to go this season. It’s funny, though, after all the negative calls I’ve take on The FAN 960’s Overtime, the Flames are still in much the same place they were to start the post-Olympic schedule. And if recent history is any indication, it’s probably where they’ll be for the rest of the season.
This team has suffered it’s fair share of tough losses since the break; the 4-0 loss to the Wild was a shot in the arm, while the 2–1 home loss at the hands of Detroit really, really hurt. Yet, regardless of what you think of how this team was built or what their stock is for the future, you can’t argue that they’re putting up a pretty good fight and making the final stretch pretty damn interesting.
We all know the nine game losing skid in early 2010 is the biggest reason Calgary is the position they’re in now. Yet, the fact is, they are where they are and no one is able to change that. To be honest, I felt this team might be the type of team that would fold with the amount of meaningful games they’ve been in thus far (and the amount they have remaining). But to this point, that just hasn’t happened.
The furthest the Flames have been out of the playoffs was Monday’s four points, after Detroit took an impressive home win over Pittsburgh to gain a little breathing room in eighth. They’ve been in and out throughout this stretch since the NHL schedule resumed, and have been in "the biggest game of the year is the next one" territory the entire way through. And they’ve done a pretty good job in most of those games; they’ve won more than they’ve lost, and they aren’t rolling over. Instead, they’re keeping the pressure on the teams in front of them.
Basically, they’re making it very hard for a broadcaster to come out and say, "They’re done, stick a fork in them," and it’s making it kind of hard for even the most jaded superfan to give up all hope. With each timely win, including Tuesday’s 3–1 win over Anaheim, they keep you hanging on. And I guess, in the spot that they’re in, that’s a pretty good thing.
Should the Flames be in the spot they’re in? That’s debatable — but it’s not up for debate that it’s a straight disappointment to see them in this predicament. Will they be able to win the amount of games needed AND get the sufficient help to push them into the post-season? Well, that’s certainly no guarantee. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised and impressed with the sack they’ve shown in the last few weeks. Now we all wait to see two things. First, if it continues, and second, if it’s good enough.