Game No. 77: A Celebration of Hunger

Just when you thought you were out.

So it’s Calgary and Edmonton tonight and everyone is trying to convince you that this one, right here, is the most important game of the year. I’m sure some fancy-pants math majors could even make a pretty convincing case that this game has more leverage for playoff probability than any other one this year.

And up until a few hours ago, I would have warned you not to believe the hype. After all, this was a game after the Flames had earned just two of a possible six points on that all-important California swing, and seemed to be limping toward the finish line of another dismal, playoffless campaign with nothing in the tank. Any game against the lowly Oilers, whose last hope of making the playoffs evaporated around, oh, October, would result in a win — and the accompanying two points — that rang as hollow as any late-season victory possibly could.

But that was before this afternoon. What changed? The connectedness of the bones in Anze Kopitar’s ankle. Now, those two winnable games left on LA’s schedule seem slightly less so, and that deathly stretch in the final weeks of games at Vancouver, hosting Dallas, at San Jose, hosting Phoenix then a home-and-home with Anaheim seems like it COULD be the death of the Kings’ playoff hopes. Sure, they currently have 92 points and it would take a medium-sized miracle for Calgary to catch them at this point, but there is now at least the glimmer of hope.

And look, I’m trying to be realistic. Even if Anze Kopitar had literally exploded and taken out Jon Quick’s eye with the schrapnel, I still wouldn’t think Calgary was going to leapfrog them or anyone to get into the playoffs. I don’t believe they have a prayer of doing it, in fact. How could they possibly? Not with the way they’ve played lately and not given how much help they need from everyone around them. But now there’s at least the spectre of a ghost of a chance.

And ya gotta believe, right?