1. Do you guys give up?
"Calgary’s only TWO points out of a playoff spot!"
That’s what people are telling themselves these days. I think about six different stories in the Herald and Sun this week have been about more or less that thing: The Flames are tantalizingly close to the playoffs, and yet so, so far away. With just 15 games remaining on the schedule, they’re still on the outside looking in, but we’re told that if they can just keep winning, they can still sneak in.
Now, I’m not sure where this "keep" winning stuff comes from, of course, since they haven’t been able to do that on an even slightly consistent basis in some time. The fact of the matter remains, as always, that the Western Conference playoff drop dead level will likely be where it almost always is: 95 points. How do I know? Only twice since the lockout has it been below that level, and both times it was 91 points.
Can Calgary get to 95 points in 15 games? It would take some very, very serious doing.
They entered last night’s game with 70 points and, fortunately for them, beat a very, very bad Habs team. So it’s up to 72, and Calgary needs "just" 23 points from its remaining 15 games. The fewest wins Calgary could get from those games is eight, and they could afford no regulation losses in the other seven. (Theoretically, they could also go 9-1-5 and achieve the same result, however.)
But if the cutoff in the West is somehow closer to 91 points than 95, the Flames will still need to pull 19 points from these remaining 15 games, and suffering any more than just five regulation losses in that time would spell certain doom.
Now I guess the point is that you have to ask yourself if you really think Calgary is capable of winning or going to overtime in that time frame. If you do, I also have a bridge I’d like to sell you.
2. What to make of Glencross?
Remember last year when Curtis Glencross signed that pretty affordable four-year extension but people kind of wondered if he was more or less cashing in on a career year at the age of 28?
It turns out, at least so far, that it’s not. Glencross has been revelatory all season, and particularly in the past few games since his return from injury. We worried to an extent that he’d never reach that 24-goal, 43-point ceiling again, but now he’s got 23 goals in 53 games, including strikes in five consecutive games against St. Louis, Phoenix, Anaheim and Dallas and Montreal.
Now granted, a healthy portion of that is his shocking, unsustainable, league-leading shooting percentage playing havoc with the numbers (indeed, if his shooting percentage was in line with career totals, he’d have just 12 or so goals to his name this year), but still, he has indeed delivered and helped the team get points. In fact, Calgary is 10-7-3 when Glencross scores a goal, slightly better than the team’s overall winning percentage.
So if you want the Flames to eke into the playoffs, you better hope Glencross keeps scoring. Specious reasoning? Sure. But you gotta hang onto something.
3. What does being "Iron Man" mean?
Last night was the eighth anniversary of Jay Bouwmeester beginning his now-league-leading consecutive games streak.
What does it mean, though?
Some people say it’s a testament to durability: A player playing that many games in a row, particularly if he’s eating the minutes Bouwmeester does, without getting injured is to be lauded. Given how rough and tumble the NHL is today — concussions and whatnot, right? — not picking up any kind of serious nick seems highly improbable.
But at the same time, others say that the 25-plus minutes a night Bouwmeester plays must be Downy soft. He must not hit anyone, he must not block shots, that kind of thing.
The answer, it turns out, lies somewhere in the middle. Certainly, Bouwmeester isn’t the kind of sandpaper, battle-hardened defensive stalwart that, say, a Ryan Suter might be, but he does get a little physical. He’s eighth on the team in hits and fourth in blocked shots, although critics can say what they want about how that plays out on a per-minute basis when Tim Jackman has nearly double his hits and Scott Hannan has about 15 percent more blocks despite playing considerably fewer minutes.
But that’s not Bouwmeester’s role, and never was, so in the end, who cares? He’s overpaid, for sure, but y’know, Darryl Sutter and whatever.
Isn’t it nice to have a fairly steady defenseman at the back every night? I think so.
4. Should we care that Bourque is back?
Speaking of overpaid, last night Rene Bourque returned to Calgary for the first time since he got traded, and I wondered why anyone thinks anyone else should care.
Oh man, he used to play for the Flames and they traded him! Yeah, he sucked when the deal went down and has continued to do so, vociferously, in Montreal. Bourque was, admittedly, never a player I liked very much. For all the flashes of greatness in the attacking zone he could occasionally display, he remained dumb as a brick and prone to horrible penalties and turnovers far more often than not.
To me, this is like making a big deal out of, say, Matthew Lombardi coming back after he got traded. He’s someone else’s problem now.
It’s even less relevant because of how well Mike Cammalleri has been playing lately (not that it’s helped at all).
5. Problems at home?
Remember the last time the Flames won at home? No? That kind of makes sense, actually.
That’s because Calgary was winless at home in its last five attempts headed into last night’s contest. The last time they’d won at the ‘Dome was Feb. 14, against Toronto. Between then and last night, they scored a whopping 13 goals in those five matchups and 22.
If you’re trying to make the playoffs, getting smoked like that in your own building sure as hell isn’t the way to do it.