However, the dull, plodding thud of constancy is beginning to wear thin in Calgary. There is a tiresome greyness about unchanging fortunes. Each year seems to have the distinct feel of inevitability to it. Since finishing first in the division in 2005-06, the Flames have changed coaching staffs, defenders, forwards, increased their budget and dealt away draft picks and never finished higher than 5th or lower than 8th. They have been, and seemingly are again, post-season cannon fodder before the elite clubs.
After the mini mid-season rebuild, there was some hope that the drastic alteration would lead to something new on the ice. That hope was increased after the new team came out firing in their first two contests. Alas, however, those games seem to be an effect of post-trade adrenaline and mediocre opponents. Since then, Calgary has returned to the bland, lackluster hockey that has marked most of their season.
Perhaps the Flames were victims of some bounces and curious officiating last night, but the underlying numbers weren't complimentary either. More telling, the club got markedly worse as the night went on, despite trailing. The Ottawa Senators, certainly not a juggernaut anymore, choked off any comeback attempt with relative ease. The Flames floundered in the neutral zone with the all the poise and passion of a team that has already accepted it's fate.
The lone bright spot may have been the continued strong play of Chris Higgins. The former Hab/Ranger was strong on the puck again the entire evening and was able to push things in the right direction whenever he was on the ice. He was the lone Calgary skater to finish in the black in terms of corsi and scoring chances. If his SH% can ever hop back up to respectability, the Flames might have another "Bourque" type player on their hands.
With the loss, the Flames have 67 points in 60 games. They now need 28 points out of their final 22 games in order to tally 95 points, which is the assumed cut-off point. That's roughly a 13-7-2 record. A 60% win rate in order to meet San Jose or Chicago in the first round...