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Flames Are Finally Having Fun Again

Two important wins, a nothing-to-lose approach and an opportunity to make up more ground has given the Calgary Flames more reasons to be positive this week. And it shows.



If nothing else, at least the Calgary Flames look like they’re having fun again. 

A little luck, a couple of last-second wins on the road, some stellar goaltending and the youthful exuberance of a 21-year-old rookie can do that for you. We saw smiles and rally-helmets and 

So will the thrill of seeing the team you’re chasing in the Western Conference standings dropping a game in hand — as the Winnipeg Jets did against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night. 

In regulation, no less. 

Tyler Toffoli’s thrilling goals with less than five seconds left in regulation to pick up a 5-4 win in Dallas on Monday and in the score-and-win fourth round of the shootout for a 1-0 win over the Wild on Tuesday brought the Calgary Flames to within four points of the Jets in the final wildcard spot. 

On the heels of a five-game losing streak that involved tough losses to a couple of Eastern Conference powerhouses and a 3-0 blanking at home against the Wild on the weekend, the mood changed pretty quickly thanks to the back-to-back success. 

“We had one or two rough games at home and everyone threw us under the bus,” Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said after the Wild victory

He’s not wrong. Many people who follow the Flames had already given up on the playoffs. The odds are still against them, and they technically don’t control their own destiny yet. A ho-hum NHL trade deadline showed that GM Brad Treliving believed they were a good team that wasn’t playing up to its potential, but that he didn’t believe enough that they would be able to turn the season around with less than a quarter of the schedule remaining. 

He tinkered, making a modest improvement on the back end by shipping out seventh defenceman Connor Mackey for a more versatile and experienced Troy Stecher, and swapped Ritchie brothers — Brett for Nick. 

Even the locker-room didn’t appear to have much faith after Saturday’ stinker against the Wild on Saddledome ice. 

Markstrom’s strong play wasn’t enough on that night. But it has been the strength of their shot at the post-season this month. He was really good in relief of Dan Vladar against the Boston Bruins, excellent against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both were losses but landed in the one-goal category that has plagued them all season. 

He was strong in Dallas despite the four-goals against, but absolutely stole the game in Minny — even after half the team was in the locker-room after believing they’d lost in overtime. 

“Good on them,” Sutter continued, already beginning his us-against-them playoff mentality in the hopes they make it into the top eight.

“I believe you’ve got to win every game; 18, 19, 20, whatever it is, you’ve got to win every game.”

Maybe not. But if you want to take control away from Winnipeg, or the other team that shouldn’t be ignored — the Nashville Predators — that’s the mindset you need to have. 

Even if no one wants to pump their tires, they’ve got the perfect hype man on the inside in Jakob Pelletier. From attempting to lift Elias Lindholm in celebration of a goal, to his one-armed shaking of veteran stars like Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri, he’s got it covered. 

And if things continue the same way over the next few games on the ice, the Flames are going to convince a lot more people to convert to cheerleader status again. 

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