Flames could find themselves in a playoff spot by day's end

Mar 31 2023, 3:43 pm

The Calgary Flames could find themselves in a playoff spot by the end of Friday.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The Flames, seeking their third straight win, could technically move into a tie for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference with a little bit of luck against the Vancouver Canucks, and a touch of help from the Detroit Red Wings.

“You want to know where you’re at and we’re closer than we’ve been in a little while. But we have to take care of our business and focus on ourselves,” defenceman Rasmus Andersson told media Thursday. “We’ve said it from even when we were furthest away… we still believe in this group. We’re going to fight for every single point there is.

“We’re closer than we’ve been in a little while, but we’ve got to take care of our own business. We’ve just got to grab every point we can get. It sounds boring, but it’s the truth. What is it, seven tough games left? We’ve got to get every point we can get.”

Calgary trails the Winnipeg Jets by two points for the second wild card spot from the West, though the latter currently holds the first and second tiebreakers over the Flames.

A win against the Canucks, who are 10-2-1 in their past 13 games, and a Jets loss to the Red Wings, would technically place Calgary in a tie with Winnipeg with just six games remaining on the schedule — including a head-to-head date on Wednesday, April 5 — less than a week from now.

The Nashville Predators, idle Friday, also remain in the mix. The Predators trail the Flames by one point and the Jets by three points with one game at hand on each.

“I think we know we have seven games left… we know we have to get a lot of points,” forward Jonathan Huberdeau added. “That’s what we’ve been doing. We’re close to a playoff spot. Focus on ourselves and go forward with that. Two points every game, it’s huge for us.

“It’s always fun to be close to a playoff spot. It brings some energy on the ice, in practices and stuff. When you know you’re close, you push harder. These next seven games are going to be huge. We have to win mostly every game. It’s a good challenge, but that’s what’s fun about it.”

Winnipeg led the Western Conference in points as recently as January 18.

Since then, Winnipeg has sputtered to a 12-16-2 record for 26 points and a dismal .433 points percentage — seventh-worst on the circuit.

Calgary has closed the gap somewhat in that span, logging a 13-11-6 record for 32 points and a .533 points percentage — 22nd out of the 32 member clubs.

“I try not to focus on Winnipeg, honestly,” Andersson said. “They’re focusing on themselves and we’re focusing on ourselves. You don’t want to stand here and talk bad about another team. We worry about ourselves and they’re probably worried about themselves.

“It’s one of those things. It’s out of your control, so you can’t control it.”

They can, however, control their own fate.

With that head-to-head against Winnipeg.

With the other six skates.

With their playoff probability trending in the right direction.

They’ve done that recently, stringing back-to-back wins together for just the second time since late January, and the chance to put three in a row on the board for the first time since early December.

“It was six points a week ago and now it’s two. It can change quick,” Andersson said. “That’s why you have to try to keep your mood up and come to work every day and bring the energy.”

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