The Flames are in San Jose taking on the Sharks tonight, but the opponent is all but immaterial. Calgary’s not making the playoffs, so their competitiveness and the quality of their foes is more or less irrelevant for the duration.
That said, there are still reasons to care about outcomes and watch the scoreboard. First, of course, is the race to the bottom. There are currently 3 horses battling for 30th overall: the Flames, the Avalanche and the Panthers. Calgary is tied with Florida at 30 points, but has two games in hand. The Avalanche are bottom of the league with 28 points and have played one more game than Calgary. The only other clubs within hailing distance of the top-3 lottery are Buffalo and Tampa Bay, each with 34 points so far.
Of the dive for five combatants, only Calgary and Buffalo sold hard at the deadline. The Sabres shed Jason Pominville and Robyn Regehr while the Flames, of course, nixed Iginla, Bouwmeester, Comeau and, for all intents and purposes, Kiprusoff. Of the teams hoping to choose first overal, Calgary might be the worst (certainly the most gutted) which improves their chances of picking in the top-3 for the first time franchise history this coming June.
In addition, Flames fans should also be cheering for the St. Louis Blues, who currently hold down the 8th seed in the West. Calgary’s 2013 first rounder from the Bouwmeester deal is conditional on the Blues making the dance and having three bullets in what is roundly considered one of the best drafts in recent memory is a really good way to start out the new era. St. Louis beat the Blackhawks last night while the Oilers fell to Vancouver, increasing the Blues’ playoff odds favorably to about 83%.
Losing to the Sharks this evening helps the Flames cause #1 (which is frankly more important) but only marginally hinders cause #2 (San Jose is already 4 points clear of the Blues). For from a strictly pragmatic point of view, then, losing is optimal this evening.
Suffering a road record 12th (I think?) straight defeat shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. The team is mediocre on paper to begin with and the skaters have collectively played like some strangled their puppy before their eyes the last few days. In addition, the dreadful goaltending that has submarined the Flames season continues unabated.
- Glencross – Stajan – Stempniak
- Horak – Cammalleri – Tanguay
- Cervenka – Backlund – Hudler
- Jackman – Begin – McGrattan
- Brodie – Wideman
- Sarich – Butler
- Babchuk – Carson
On top of all that, Mark Giordano is out of the line-up celebrating the birth of his first child, meaning the number of capable NHLers on the Flames blueline gets whittled down to about two.
The Stajan line had an okay game despite the score vs Edmonton and the Flames surprising 4th unit with checkers and ruffians has been the only one to really outplay the opponent consistently the last week or so. You can tell the shifting gears of the organization and club hasn’t really altered their lives or focus on the ice – they keep plugging away in the same fashion as always. Kudos to them all.
It’s the Sharks. They have Thornton and Pavelski and Marleau and Boyle and Burns and…well you get the idea. They’re a much better team than the Flames are currently. If they don’t win tonight they should be ashamed.
Sum It up
The season is over. What’s left on the ice is this evening perfunctory. Keep your eyes on the out of town scorebaord, though.