OK, that wasn’t the best Easter the Calgary Flames have ever enjoyed.
A 4-1 loss to Chicago in the afternoon was compounded by Colorado’s 5-4 overtime win over San Jose. After spending a week desperately clawing and scratching their way into a tie for the final playoff spot with the Avs, one bad day and the Flames are on the outside looking in – again. And time is running out.
But let’s not hit the panic button (or the Oh-Screw-It-We-Quit-Speed-Dial-For-A-Tee-Off-Time-At-The-Elks-Club button) just yet. Not much has changed from before the Flames laid their Easter egg in Chicago.
Did we ever seriously expect Calgary to win its last seven games? No. We may have hoped, but that streak seemed unlikely, given the schedule they were looking at and the team we were talking about. Most making-the-playoffs scenarios (ours included) assumed Calgary would drop a game in there somewhere.
The Flames, for whatever reason, match up poorly against the Hawks. They’ve got our number. (Need evidence? In Calgary’s last 11 periods (plus an overtime) of hockey against Chicago, they’ve been outscored 19-3.) If you assumed Calgary would drop one of those last seven games, this was the most likely suspect.
And we always knew the Avalanche would have to lose at least three of their last five. That hasn’t changed; all that’s changed is that they’ve gotten one of the two wins we were willing to spot them.
So, we’re still looking for a combination of three Flames wins and three Colorado losses to get the Flames into the playoffs.
Could it happen? Sure it could. But the margin of error for Calgary is now virtually zero.
They must sweep San Jose, Minnesota (both at home) and Vancouver (in Van) to have any hope at all. And they have to get A LOT of help from other teams (including several teams that under normal circumstances, I’d almost rather place my testicles in a vice than cheer for) to get past Colorado.
But the Avs, who haven’t been playing well (sneaking past a stumbling Sharks team notwithstanding), hardly have an easy schedule to finish the season. Three of their opponents – Vancouver, Chicago and Los Angeles – are ahead of them in the standings and still battling for playoff seedings, so they’ll be motivated. The only (in theory) easy game is in Edmonton on Wednesday night, but that one will be the Av’s second game on the road in two nights, having played in Vancouver the night before. And Colorado has hardly dominated Edmonton this season; it’s record against the Oil is a modest 3W, 2L. (By the way, the Avs are 1-and-4 against Vancouver this season, 1-and-2 against Chicago and 1-1-1 against L.A.)
So this is what we’re reduced to – cheering for the Canucks and the Oilers on consecutive nights. I’m gonna need a shower thoroughly afterward and go to confession (even though I’m not even Catholic), but I’ll do what I’ve gotta do. Go (gulp) Canucks. Go (gag) Oilers.
Still, as Brent Sutter keeps saying, it’s all meaningless unless the Flames keep winning. So, obviously, GO FLAMES.