With the Ducks victory last night, the Flames are technically in 9th in the Western Conference at this time (although just a single point and two more games played separates them from Nashville in 10th).
Calgary’s primary foes in the race for 8th place are the aforementioned Predators, the Dallas Stars (82 points, 70 games played), the Anaheim ducks (81 points, 70 games played) and, I guess, the Chicago Blackhawks (84 points, 70 games played), although I would bet on the Hawks pulling away down the final stretch here.
The recent three-game losing streak probably means the Flames will need some help in order to make the dance – absent a 9-0-0 run, of course. We’ll likely continue this feature until the games don’t matter any more, for better or worse.
Tonight, all of the Flames main rivals are playing.
– The Dallas Stars are playing Chicago. The Blackhawks are certainly the superior team, so the good news is a Hawks victory is both likely and preferred. A three point game would be awful.
– The Nashville Predators are facing the Boston Bruins. More good news, because Boston is one of the best teams in the east by just about all measures.The Preds are 4-4-2 in their last 10, so here’s hoping the Bruins can add to their recent mediocre stretch.
– The Phoenix Coyotes are playing against the woeful Oilers, unfortunately. Edmonton was dreadful before Hall, Hemsky and Gagner were injured. Now they are basically a middling AHL club. Good thing Calgary gets to play them twice more.
– The Los Angeles Kings are playing the St. Louis Blue. The Kings are probably out of reach with 85 points in 70 games played. A win tonight over the floundering Blues will further cement their place in the West’s top-5.
– The Minnesota Wild versus the San Jose Sharks. The Wild are 10th in the West with 77 points, but are within spitting distance of the Flames thanks to playing 2 less games. Mikko Koivu recently returned to the line-up so they have that going for them, although Minny isn’t a strong club even with their best forward on the ice. I don’t expect them to seriously contend for a playoff spot and a loss tonight to the superior Sharks would just about put them out of their misery.
– And, of course, we have the Flames against the Avalanche. Pat will set-up the game later today, but let’s just say that a win over Colorado (who are 1-8-1 in their last 10) is an absolute must.