Game No. 50: Here’s something really sad

Despite what you may believe, Calgary actually does have a very legit shot at making the playoffs.

Whether or not you think it’s a good thing, the Flames’ recent run of success coupled with the general awfulness of the bottom two-thirds of the Western Conference have created a horrible confluence of circumstances, one which has Calgary sitting just five points out of a playoff spot.

You read that right. The Flames are a pitiable team, no doubt, with a list of roster and payroll problems as long as Zdeno Chara’s wingspan, but a pathetic showing from about nine or 10 of the conference’s other 14 teams has left pretty much all of the Western playoff picture (save the division titles) wide, wide open.

Calgary is currently 14th in the West but, somehow, only eight points out of the fifth spot currently occupied by Anaheim, and 10 points out of the last home ice spot, which currently belongs to tonight’s opponent, the Nashville Predators. That a team with only 22 wins from 49 games can somehow, in late January, be five points out of a playoff spot, is positively mind-boggling.

And yet here we are. With a win tonight, Calgary would vault to 11th in the conference and just three points out despite being eye-bleedingly awful for pretty much the entirety of the season.

Let’s put it this way: four of Anaheim, Phoenix, Chicago, San Jose, Colorado, Minnesota, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Columbus and Calgary are going to make the playoffs even though none of them have 60 points from between 47 and 51(!) games played.

It’d be difficult to think of a more depressing thing on the planet than Calgary somehow cobbling together a four-game points streak at the end of the year to crack 90 points that gets them a playoff sweep against Vancouver. And that includes world hunger.