Most residents of Alberta would relish the opportunity to travel to California in March.
But when San Jose’s Torrey Mitchell put the Sharks ahead 5-3 with 4:10 left in the second period last night, the Calgary Flames couldn’t get out of the state fast enough.
The eventual 6-3 loss severely damaged the team’s playoff hopes and creates a scenario whereby Calgary essentially has to win all of its remaining six games. The Flames, which have 85 points, two back of eighth-place Anaheim before tonight’s action, earned only two of a possible six points, and thus no love, from California.
And those two points came from shootout and overtime losses to Los Angeles and Anaheim – teams ahead of them in the standings.
It was not what they wanted. It was not what they needed.
Looking back at the crucial three-game set, several questions need to be posed:
Was going back to Miikka Kiprusoff (http://flames.nhl.com/club/player.htm?id=8462147) in Los Angeles, after pulling him before the second period in Anaheim a night earlier, the right move?
Probably, yes. He’s been Calgary’s go-to goalie since the magical playoff run back in 2004. Fair enough.
But where was Jarome Iginla (http://flames.nhl.com/club/player.htm?id=8462042) in the shootout against L.A.? I know it’s not his strongest suit, but when the game, and more importantly the season, potentially on the line, do you not put it in the hands of your best player?
And, just to not be completely critical, how sweet was Olli Jokinen’s breakaway backhand deke on Jonathan Quick in the Kings game?! At that time, it seemed to save the season. Fifteen minutes later, it didn’t matter. But it was a great move.
The Flames took a charter flight to Edmonton earlier today and will use Friday as a rest day, before preparing to play yet another playoff-type game against the Oilers – a team which would love nothing better right now than to dash Calgary’s slim postseason aspirations – on Saturday night.
Calgary will then have several days of rest and practice before hosting the Anaheim Ducks at the Saddledome on Wednesday. The Western Conference race could look drastically different by that game’s puck drop.
The Flames are hoping they’re still a part of it.