This is it.
The Calgary Flames need to win this game if they have any hope of making the NHL playoffs this season.
That's because the team they're playing tonight at 5:30 p.m., the host Winnipeg Jets, is the one the Flames are desperately trying to chase down and surpass in the Western Conference standings.
Well, maybe not THAT desperately. Calgary did lose at home last night to the 30th-place Chicago Blackhawks, who would've been dead last in 32nd had the Flames beaten them.
On Any Given Tuesday, right?
It's true that you can't win them all — and I did predict the Flames would lose that game — but it's also true that the past is always in the past. You can't change history, but you can learn from it.
So for however much losing to the sad-sack Blackhawks stings, all the Flames can do is watch a little video from last night, reflect a bit, then hit the ice and try to beat the Jets.
The playoff carrot is still dangling — Winnipeg is a mere two points ahead of Calgary in the standings — but time is running out. Including tonight's game, the Flames have just four games left on their regular-season schedule. The Jets have five.
Just win. That's all either team needs to worry about right now. For Calgary, though, the heat on them burns a little hotter.
If Calgary wins tonight, they'll at least have a much better chance of catching and passing Winnipeg for a Western Conference wildcard spot. It's one of those vaunted four-point games. And they'll continue to stoke my dreams of having my bold predictions come true.
But if they lose, it's pretty much over.
Flames projected lines
- Andrew Mangiapane • Elias Lindholm • Tyler Toffoli
- Jonathan Huberdeau • Mikael Backlund • Blake Coleman
- Nick Ritchie • Nazem Kadri • Dillon Dube
- Milan Lucic • Trevor Lewis • Walker Duehr
- MacKenzie Weegar • Rasmus Andersson
- Noah Hanifin • Chris Tanev
- Nikita Zadorov • Troy Stecher
- Jacob Markstrom