That’s an outstanding figure if you’re talking about body-fat content and an annoying one if the subject is taxation rate, but as Calgary Flames fans will attest, it’s an absolutely depressing number if it’s the playoff chances for your favourite hockey club.
The probability-projection gang at Sportsclubstats.com calculates that the Flames’ post-season hopes are now down to 6.5 per cent and the only reason they’re that high is that there is no mathematical way to calculate the effect of losing to an out-of-the-running team whose blue-line brigade includes names like Dylan Reese and Mark Flood. It’s on the basis of that miserable loss to the Islanders that all but the most blindly loyal of Calgary supporters has disembarked the S.S. Positive Thinking and started rowing to the shores of the lonely island they called home from 1997 to 2003. You know, that spot where spring never comes.
Nassau Coliseum is already the place where Doug Weight’s career went to die and now the old barn has also claimed the Flames’ season.
There’ll be plenty of time for dissecting and recriminations in the days and weeks to come, but for now suffice it to know that one of the immediate consequences of the "it’s-over" reality is that real conversations are actually happening that suggest Eric Nystrom is a more fitting choice for Flames captain than Jarome Iginla, who had a disturbingly passive and ineffective game on that fateful Thursday night on the Island.
Suddenly, it doesn’t seem to matter so much that teams haven’t been giving the Flames much out-of-town help when facing the Detroit Red Wings (who are 6-0-1 in their last seven) and Nashville Predators (7-1-0 in the past eight). Let’s face it, how can you bitch about being screwed by other teams when the Flames are doing such an exquisite job impaling themselves on their own spears?
Since the Flames started their on-the-fly rebuilding project by cutting ties with The Dion, Calgary has won 10 games and lost nine, hardly the stretch of inspiring play needed to overcome a three-month stinkfest from November trough January which saw the local heroes win just 10 times in 29 tries.
Now that the Flames’ goose is all but cooked, the volume of the second-guessing on in-season trades will be cranked up to 11. Losing Christopher Higgins to sick bay didn’t help and reality suggests it would have been wrong to expect more from the likes of Jamal Mayers, Steve Staios and Ian White (although that should have been as true for Darryl Sutter before he agreed to make the deals as it is for Flames fans now) but Ales Kotalik has been awful enough to make the Olli Jokinen era in Calgary seem like the good old days.
That Three Million Dollar Man (for two more years!) Kotalik has one goal and two points in 18 games while throw-in defenceman Aaron Johnson has three goals and five points in 10 games for Edmonton . . . well, you go ahead and finish that sentence.
Speaking of that team to the north, it should probably now be the off-season for that favourite sport of Flames fans — kicking Oilers supporters while they’re down. True, Edmonton has been out of contention for many weeks now, but at least the Oilers:
- Have the consolation of knowing a top-notch prospect (Hall? Seguin? Fowler?) is coming their way in June and
- They’re not on the hook for paying Staios $2.7M in 2010-11
We now return you to your regularly scheduled debate about Darryl Sutter’s continued viability as Flames GM.