It’s probably time to nix that whole narrative about the Calgary Flames playing down to their opponents.
It’s kind of irrelevant at this point, the losing record against non-playoff teams.
“Well, neither are we,” Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter pointed out to the media after a 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.
“Sixteen make it, 16 don’t. That’s why we do it every night. I don’t put a whole lot into that, at all. I don’t think there’s enough of a gap.”
The gap Sutter is talking about is talent level among the NHL’s 32 franchises. But the gap that really matters is the one between the Flames and a playoff spot. And they failed to narrow it on Friday.
The Flames still trail the Winnipeg Jets by four points in the Western Conference. And the idle Jets now have an extra game in hand, too.
Mikael Backlund started the scoring with a tip on the powerplay in the second period. That’s all they’d get. A little more than a minute later, they watched Max Comtois tie it up. A few minutes after that, Brett Leason got the winner.
It’s the same old story for the Flames. More often than not, they can’t get the timely goal they so desperately need to win. They certainly can’t get it for more than two in a row. It’s been more than three months since the team strung together three straight victories. And hopes were so high coming off a massive mood-repairing result in back-to-back road games in Dallas and Minnesota.
Now there are 16 games to go, and the Flames will have to start winning three or more consecutively a bunch of times if they’re going to be one of the 16 squads in the west left standing after the regular season.
As it stands, their chances — according to one predictive model — dropped from 42 percent to 28 percent with that one loss.
To the Ducks.
One of the many teams outside the playoff picture who have beat the Calgary Flames in this epically inconsistent season.
"Dallas and Minnesota are two great teams. We come up with two wins on the road, and we come here and we kinda shit the bed against a team that I feel like is not at our standard,”said Flames defenceman MacKenzie Weegar.
“We need to find ways to win these games."
It’s common knowledge that the Flames are running out of time. The players know that. They feel it. That’s why nobody was sitting there using their virtual domination of opponents in many areas EXCEPT the scoreboard is never used as a silver lining now.
After Derek Grant’s empty net goal for the Ducks, amid the sound of people in the Saddledome stands booing, you could clearly also hear the snapping of Calgary Flames defenceman Rasmus Andersson’s stick.
“Honestly, I’m so frustrated,” Andersson said bluntly. “We didn’t score. It’s the easy way to say it — we just didn’t score today. We had a lot of looks. We’re dominating the game in the third and we can’t get the tying goal or the leading goal.