Game No. 76: The joy of six

So after tonight, only five games remain in the Flames 2010-11 campaign.

I know what you’re thinking: "They could still make it!"

No, they couldn’t.

The season ended, though not mathematically, the other night in LA when that bouncing puck squeaked through the league’s most overrated goaltender and zipped away from the goal like it was on a string. That Curtis Glencross couldn’t even put the puck on net in the shootout only served to underscore just how, well, Flames-y this whole season has been.

This was, from the outset, a very frustrating team that, in the end, will do what pretty much every sane observer of the NHL thought it would do: compete for a playoff spot and have some sort of vague chance to make it. Despite a woeful start, Calgary rose like a phoenix to start 2011 before settling into seemingly unfathomable mediocrity in the last few weeks. They’ve dug themselves into a happy little rut and they’re not about to hoist themselves out.

Not tonight. Not against a Sharks team that has lost in regulation just twice in the last 16 games. The fatal blows have already been delivered in the two SoCal overtime losses, where even the pity points served as no consolation for another season frittered away. I hate to say it, but this is Calgary limping to the finish line, leaking blood and generally making a fine mess of things.

This is a team that showed some fight against Anaheim on Sunday only to be derailed by an all-too-common boneheaded penalty late in regulation that led to the tying goal and, inevitably, the OT loss. Monday was just an outright disaster in which a punchless team should have been playing for its life, but instead slouched its way through 65 minutes against a mediocre team. If that’s how the Flames play with their back against the wall, tonight is going to be an absolute massacre.

At one point, I thought this team was playing to make the playoffs. Now it seems more like it’s playing not to be put out of its misery just yet.

And there’s a big difference between fighting to live and fighting not to die. Seems like they’re going to realize it too late.