Calgary looks to keep its inexplicable run going against a team that should be better than it is, probably.
This game is really and remarkably important. The Sharks, who entered today as one of the roughly 39 Western Conference teams bunched between 56 and 61 points, are already in the clubhouse at 62, having knocked off the Bruins in an excellently-played game of road hockey.
And that was the only game involving teams in that tight race that didn’t have a HUGE impact on the standings. As I write this, the Ducks (now at 62 points) have already knocked off the Avalanche (stuck at 58), 3-0. Nashville (61) leads Detroit 1-0 midway through the second. Minnesota and Phoenix (both at 59) are similarly deadlocked in a scoreless draw, also with 30ish minutes elapsed.
And now, in just a few minutes here, Calgary (58) and Los Angeles (also 58) will face off. The winner could finish the day as high as eighth in the West — for Calgary it would be the first time it held a playoff position since, if my math is correct, last season — and the loser as low as 11th.
But that’s life in the West these days isn’t it? Never mind that it’s taken Calgary an incredible six-game winning streak to even claw back into having the ability to think about the idea of playoff contention, it’s 127 Hours-tight out there and probably will be for the rest of the season. The Flames will play the teams listed above, plus Chicago (58 points and idle today), in 15 of their remaining 28 games.
Calgary really needs these points tonight if it wants to continue being part of the conversation. And it needs to not go to overtime.
These teams will all meet head-to-head 58 more times in the regular season. Gotta think the number of three-point games will play a big role in who gets to participate after that.