Some have questioned the wisdom of the Flames recent commitment to once again fight and claw for a playoff run. Others, myself included, have also cynically noted there may be powerful financial motivations driving the decision makers to charge forward rather than fall back.
There are obviously very real reasons to be suspcious of yet another potentially fruitless run for the post-season. The Flames are a two-time 10th placed team currently sitting in a 11th with a one in four chance (at best) of elbowing their way into the playoffs. Even if this club beat the odds, there’s a good chance they will be cannon fodder before whichever elite squad they face in the first round. It seems, from various angles, to be a bit of a fools errand.
While it’s true the Flames probably aren’t good enough to make any real noise this season (absent an incredible run of good fortune), the flip side of the coin is also true in that they aren’t truly bad enough to fail. At least, fail in the complete and spectacular fashion that ends in the type of reward that (ostensibly) makes it worthwhile – that being a top-5 draft pick.
Pragmatically speaking, the Flames are still closer to the middle of the pack in the West than the basement: while currently just two points back of 8th, they have an 11-point cushion on Anaheim in 13th. Edmonton is 12-points back of the Flames and the woeful Jackets are 19-points short. In fact, the Flames are 20th in the league, meaning there’s 10 other clubs whose fans are also beginning to wonder what they can sell at the deadline. Seven of those 10 have at least 7 less points than Calgary.
So while the race to the playoffs seems like a longshot at this point, the truth is the race to the bottom is already lost. Outside of selling half their team for pennies on the dollar right now (which would be a feat unto itself), Calgary can’t possibly gut themselves fast enough or stumble hard enough to win the race to the bottom.
Even if one had the stomach for that sort of distasteful (albeit potentially profitable) debasement, it’s not even pragmatic at this point for Calgary to attempt it – others have already had the grenade blow-up in their hand and now they’re readying to clear the debris from the blast site. The Flames haven’t even pulled the pin yet.
That means it’s playoffs or bust folks, at least for this year. It’s the more sensible option to cheer for in the short-term at this point. Might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.