– Make no mistake about it, the Calgary Flames
are putting out the distress call.
After falling three points back of a playoff spot with just four games remaining after losing five of their last six, the Flames have officially put out an S.O.S. In simpler terms, the Flames are still mathematically alive in the Western Conference playoff race after losing 3-0 to the Los Angeles Kings
on Wednesday, but will need significant help from outside sources to keep their playoff dreams alive.
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The Flames trail both the seventh-place Kings and the eighth-place San Jose Sharks
by three points, and both of those teams have a game in hand on Calgary. In order to capture a postseason berth, Calgary would need to leapfrog one of those two clubs along with both the Phoenix Coyotes
and Colorado Avalanche
Not an easy task -- and one they'll need help to achieve.
"We're all upset, there's no doubt about it, but as far as we're concerned mathematically we do still have a chance," forward Alex Tanguay
said. "We're going to need something to happen -- one of those teams to run the table and hopefully the other ones falter a little bit. We're certainly going to need some help. Our situation is what it is now."
The best thing the Flames have going for them, according to defenseman Chris Butler
, is that the teams in front of them all play each other multiple times before the season ends on April 7.
"That is the one good thing we have on our side is the fact is the teams ahead of us are all playing each other," Butler said. "The only thing you pray for is no three-point games. It's awkward to be cheering for other teams around the league you're competing against and are in your conference, but we don't really have much of a choice right now."
One foe in particular could become Calgary's biggest ally. With two games against both the Kings and Dallas Stars
remaining on their schedule, San Jose can give Calgary's hopes a big boost it the Sharks are able to sweep those four games.
"Let's not kid ourselves on that one either -- we're the biggest San Jose rooters right now they have," coach Brent Sutter
Cheering for a team Calgary has spent the season battling is a tough adjustment for captain Jarome Iginla
"It's hard to cheer a team you've been trying to beat," Iginla said. "(It's) great if they can run the board and beat those teams. Lots can happen."
But before the Flames can worry about anyone else, they have to take care of their own affairs. With 85 points and four games remaining, a sweep would give the Flames 93 for the full 82-game season. Anything less could make whatever happens elsewhere irrelevant.
"It's not the position you want to put yourself in obviously, but it's what we've done to ourselves and we don't have anyone to blame but ourselves," Butler said. "We need some help, but at the same time if we don't take care of our own games we don't have a shot."
Left Wing - CGY
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 36 | PTS: 49
SOG: 84 | +/-: 8
That means beating the Avalanche -- a team in the exact same boat as Calgary – on Friday night as well as a pair of wins against the division-rival Vancouver Canucks
and one against Anaheim in their season finale.
Winning out isn't a suggestion for Tanguay – it's a must.
"Unless we go out and run the table, we're not going to have a chance," Tanguay said. "That's certainly not going to be easy but we have to give it our best shot."
If the Flames are able to sweep their remaining games, it will give Calgary at least a chance.
"You never know, funny things happen," Tanguay said. "You look at baseball -- St. Louis got in the very last day of the season this year on a 162-game schedule. On an 82-game schedule, maybe it will take 82 games. We're all crossing our fingers that things will fall into place for us but we have to win our games."
The Cardinals went on to win the World Series in seven games, despite being down to their last strike in consecutive innings in Game 6.
At this point, the Flames are just hoping they'll have the opportunity to play in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
But they'll need help to do it.