After back-to-back losses to the Canucks and Coyotes on late last week, the Flames' position in the standings is a precarious one.
With a tenuous grip on eighth place, they've still played more games than any other team in the Western Conference, and that will continue tomorrow night when they face the Phoenix Coyotes for the second time in less than a week after being shutout by the desert dogs in their last meeting.
The team's play has been worrying of late, and has some wondering if the Flames are coming down to earth after a lengthy stretch of good fortune--some deserved, some not. Despite pushing the pace for the better part of two periods Thursday in Glendale they couldn't overcome a slim 1-0 deficit heading into the third period and fell by a final score of 3-0 with an empty net goal added in the dying seconds. In Saturday's game, two leads were erased by the Canucks, who exposed what has been a rock solid penalty kill up until now with their league-best man advantage unit. Contests against some of the better teams in the West like the Sharks, Blackhawks, and Canucks have resulted in losses that have made the separation between them and the Flames evident, and have made fans fearful of a potential first-round playoff matchup.
The reality is that these are desperate times. With a few more lengthy breaks (three days or more) in the schedule that will enable other teams to catch up as the season rounds out, the Flames have to get back to finding ways to get points, plain and simple. With only two games remaining against those upper-level teams, the Flames have one of the easier schedules going forward, in theory of course--their recent play doesn't provide much encouragement that they'll properly take advantage of this. I'm more than open to being proved wrong, but at this moment in time the seeds of doubt are definitely there.
Links after the jump.
UPDATE: David Moss left Flames practice this morning with an apparent injury, while Curtis Glencross was also absent from the morning skate. Queue panic in 5, 4, 3, 2...1 [FlamesNation]
The importance of faceoffs has been debated before, but what happens when it seems like none of your centres can win a draw? [Dome Beers]
King Jafi's wicked awesome birthday cake. Happy belated! [Hit the Post]
Jay Feaster on player safety at the NHL General Manager's meetings [The Calgary Herald via Yahoo! Sports]
What happens if the Flames don't make the playoffs? [The Calgary Sun]
The NHL's annual meetings in Florida are underway, and they represent yet another opportunity for the league's GMs to enforce change [The Globe and Mail]
Sidney Crosby skated publicly today for the first time since sustaining a concussion. The star forward has missed 29-games with the head injury, and his absence from the game has sparked more calls for stricter discipline for head shots. [Puck Daddy]
With the season winding down, can Nashville's Pekka Rinne catch Tim Thomas for the Vezina trophy? [On the Forecheck]
A quick look at the AHL's playoff races [theahl.com]
The playoffs are underway in the European leagues [Puck Worlds]
The answer to a question many Flames fans are familiar with: How does the defensive shell work? [Behind the Net]
Looking at the playoff performance of various President's Trophy winners over the years [SBNation.com/nhl]
Finally, file this one under 'bizarre'...last night was Charlie Sheen Night for the ECHL's Bakersfield Condors--Minnesota's minor league affiliate--and the results were uh...interesting. [Puck Daddy]
Have a great week everyone and enjoy what are (in theory) the last days of winter. Happy Monday!