Calgary has an awful good chance to wrap up this long East Coast road trip at 3-0-1 tonight. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up to you.
It has been with increasing worry that I’ve watched the Flames winning a fair number of hockey games lately. Granted, these are mostly against pretty bad teams, but they’re 6-2-2 in their last 10, and that can’t be discounted.
The question is: to what end? The Flames can certainly still squeak into the playoffs if they really get their act together down the stretch here, and Jay Feaster is certainly still managing the organization that way. No one would argue that this team has a shot at competing with most teams at the bottom of the current Western Conference playoff picture, at least not anyone with a realistic view of the club (the jury on Feaster is still out, I fear).
The club is old, slow and still, somehow, despite five years of being able to adequately prepare as other organizations have, not well-suited for the rigors of the New NHL. The prospect cupboard, also, is bare.
None of this is breaking news.
So why pursue winning, when each victory brings Calgary two points farther from a lottery pick? Already, Calgary is seven spots away from dead last in the league — and one supposes that the lowly bottom three are all but spoken-for by the Devils, Islanders and Oilers. Continuing to win, and to barely sneak by weak opposition, serves no purpose.
It’s been said that Calgary won’t trade The Core, and that’s to be expected, since no GM worth having would ever tip his hand that plainly and drive down the asking price for what players of value he has.
But if you’re going to do a tank job, do it properly.
Remember when Brent was mixing up lines with reckless abandon, and scratching people for no readily apparent reason? Remember when guys were earning minutes they didn’t deserve? What happened to THAT?
Winning nail-biters with cellar-dwellers (which, I’ll needlessly point out, Calgary’s opponents tonight categorically are not), a cheery locker room and contributions from the fourth line are all well and good for teams that have Cup aspirations, even vague ones. Calgary does not fit that description.
I don’t understand how anyone can operate under that delusion.