Game No. 63: Proving ground

Well this is it, isn’t it?

Tonight’s game against the white-hot San Jose Sharks should tell us a considerable amount about how the rest of this season is going to go.

Calgary just spent the better part of a month looking like an absolute buzzsaw, splaying open opponent after helpless opponent on a blistering run that brought them from punchline to potential playoff team. But that was all undone by a masterful road performance by the Bruins earlier this week, with a couple days off leaving Brent Sutter and Co. ample opportunity to examine the wreckage.

Streaks like the one the Flames went on can’t just end, can they? Teams don’t suddenly go from juggernauts to jokers within the space of a few days, right?

We’ll find out tonight. San Jose is a team that seemingly cannot be beaten these days, in much the same way Calgary was just a short time ago. Winners of 14 of their last 17. A loser point in another. Picking up two points a night in a variety of different ways, including blowouts, squeakers and good sound road hockey (12 of the games in this stretch have been away from home!).

So whether the Flames can pull one out, or even make a strong accounting of themselves in a loss, will, potentially at least, tell us what the last quarter of this season is going to be like.

Getting blown out by a road-weary Sharks squad might easily be taken as a sign that Calgary’s run was but a statistical correction after an abject start, a way to return to the relative normalcy of what we probably all predicted in October: a mediocre, borderline-playoff team.

But a win, unseating the Sharks from their incredible run? Well that would be something else entirely. Perhaps a validation that the remarkable streak of top-notch play will continue, that the Flames are indeed worthy of being considered contenders, and that Ws will continue unabated until a playoff spot is good and secure.

Either way, the team’s identity and season may well hinge on this single, late February game. Yes, it’s really come to that.