Tonight could be the final Calgary Flames game of the 2014-15 season. Or it might not. It would be surprising if they forced a Game 6, but that's what the Flames have been all season long: surprising.
It would be greedy to ask for more from this team. When you think about it, we've already gotten more than enough from them.
But when the puck actually drops, you can't help but ask for just one more win.
One more they should have already gotten back in Calgary. A 2-2 series looks far, far different from a 1-3 one.
It's not as if the Flames are the only team in this position - the Montreal Canadiens could have been eliminated last night, just as the New York Rangers can be tonight - but when it's the team you have the most emotional investment in, things take a tighter turn. It's more daunting.
Other teams have had expectations for them all season long; the Flames have not. Just seven teams remain in the entire NHL, and the Flames are somehow one of them.
But... one more win would be nice.
If it hadn't been for Johnny Gaudreau's turnover, or Joe Colborne's stick and/or hands (depending on your wavering levels of faith in the refs), they might have already gotten that one more.
All this to say: Gaudreau and Colborne can't be blamed if this is it. The hypothetical Flame who hypothetically messes up in Game 5 (hypothetically, because hopefully, that isn't actually the reality) can't be, either.
In Game 4, it's pretty easy to admonish the on-ice faults. If Gaudreau doesn't turn it over, the Ducks don't tie it up. If Colborne keeps his stick under control, the Ducks don't score the game winner. Those were two very isolated moments that had two very dire consequences that ultimately put the Flames in the hole they currently face.
It also ignores that, after the first 15 minutes or so, the Ducks were firmly in control of the game. It ignores that after just two quick goals right at the start, the Flames seemed to be playing more prevention than offence. It ignores that they were totally on their heels, it ignores that their comeback efforts fell short, it ignores that they created absolutely nothing on a five-on-three powerplay. It ignores that two Ducks goals came on the powerplay with their main penalty killer a healthy scratch, it ignores that previously successful line combinations had been broken up and weren't reunited until it was too late.
It was a true team loss, but it's a team game. Look no further than the spread out scoring from not just the playoffs, but the regular season, as well. There are a few standouts, but the Flames have needed everyone to step up to get where they are, and everyone has.
Gaudreau and Colborne had the misfortune of making the plays that cemented it. To zero in on them is lazy and unwarranted.
Just as it will be if something goes wrong in Game 5.
Hopefully they get that one more victory, though.