Embrace the Chase: 5 Games Could Define an Era

Brent Sutter was brought in to take the Calgary Flames to the next level - the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.

It hasn't really worked out. Now we're left with a team that more than likely isn't even good enough to make their 8th-place goal; in fact, its almost unrealistic. Yet, here they sit, with five games remaining and an outside shot at slipping in the back door.

For Brent Sutter, these five games could define his time with the team - at least to management and a handful of fans.

Do the improbable and meet the already-low expectations of the owners and general manger and achieve an 8th-place or better finish and I'll bet he's given another chance, along with Jay Feaster, to build upon this season.

Fail, and it will be but the final nail in the coffin of an incredibly mediocre three-year span in which the team refused to read the writing on the wall year after year.

The most unfortunate part of it all is that - against all odds - and in similar fashion to last season, the Flames were in total control of their playoff fate before faltering horribly, leaving a minimal amount of games to make a final push. Had they won even one of their previous five losses they would have much more than an outside shot. All of this begs the question; why did it take until game 76 for the team to show some desperation?

Read on after the jump for a closer look at the chase.

-Flames have 5 games remaining, 4 at home (LA, COL, VAN, ANH) and 1 road game (@VAN).

-Coming up, the Flames host LA and Colorado, then travel to Vancouver for the tail-end of a back-to-back.

-As of today, the 8th-place pace is being set by the Los Angeles Kings. They're on pace for 93 points. If this held, the Flames would need 93 points to make the playoffs as they hold the ROW tie-break.

-The team would have to go 4-1-0 or 3-0-2 to finish with 93 points. According to SportsClubStats, 93 points would give them a 70.8% chance at the playoffs.

-None of the games on tonight's schedule affect the Flames playoff chances.

-On Wednesday, it's a different story. The Flames host the Kings, the Oilers host the Stars and the Canucks host the Avalanche. Put your vendetta's aside.

Obviously, every one of the next 5 games are must-win, but these first two games of the stretch are at home; win them, and they're right in the thick of things going into a home and home with the Canucks. If they don't win both, expect to see Leland Irving up to play against the Canucks in Vancouver, if they do, let's hope they roll with Kipper. It's not that Irving isn't capable, but the team just doesn't seem to perform with him in net.

Most teams started showing playoff desperation weeks ago, the Flames may have just gotten there, let's hope they're committed to staying.

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