No amount of losing or poor play seems enough to put the Flames in the ground for good.
I understand that fundamentally, it’s all just math. The Flames are still in it — barely, and hanging on by a thread stretched nerve-wrackingly thing — because they were just good enough for the month and a half after Darryl was fired or whatever to have staked out a tenuous position in the playoff picture despite this recent run.
But still, it’s amazing to me that we’re not yet officially talking about tee times for a week from now. It’s been an odd confluence of circumstances that have conspired to keep the Flames on a faint lifeline: a scheduling quirk giving Calgary four cupcake opponents in five of the last games of the season, the Blackhawks’ injuries (particularly the one to Patrick Sharp) catching up with them a little bit here, Anaheim running into a few hot opponents.
And yet, when last I checked, the Flames’ elimination number was still one. Meaning one win by the Ducks or Blackhawks would spell the final doom for Calgary’s season and a long, discontented summer more than likely short on good news and long on uncertainty and hard questions.
Of course, by similar logic, a single Flames loss would also do the trick, so that’s obviously something the team can’t afford. But because of that, another thing it can’t afford is to sleepwalk through the first portion of the game, be it for three or 30. Yes, that comeback win against this same Oilers squad — which by the way has now beaten Vancouver by a combined score of 6-1 in its last two games — was certainly nice and impressive and galvanizing, but for the Flames to have allowed themselves to be put in that position is simply unacceptable.
The team needs a whole hell of a lot of help from San Jose, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Detroit, at least if they really want this bizarre season to continue. They have to feel pretty decent about teams Nos. 1, 2 and 4. Not so much team No. 3.
But most of all, the team needs 60 good minutes tonight, 120 for the rest of the season.