After 79 games this season—which can only be described as an emotional rollercoaster that has come off its rails—the Calgary Flames are tied for the final wild card position in the Western Conference after last night’s thrilling win against the Winnipeg Jets.
With the victory, the Flames playoff chances jump from 9% to 20% which doesn’t scream “plan the parade” but sure does inspire much more faith than was had after Tuesday’s loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
There is no doubt that even with this slim chance, there is still a ton of consternation within the fanbase; which comes as quite the surprise.
Yes, this team has underachieved. Most of the team’s key players have underperformed, coaching has been atrocious, young players have been kept out of the lineup, and management has done little to address the concerns on the ice. It’s simply been a long season.
In addition to this year, the trend of the Flames finishing in the middle of the pack looks to be on brand yet again for this season. Not good enough to consistently be a high seed in the playoffs, and not bad enough to bottom out for a top pick.
That being said, the with three games left in the season, those still on #TeamTank really have to hop off.
Team Go For It
The only real outcome that fans should be hoping for should be three straight wins for the remainder of the season. The goal for the regular season is to make the playoffs—that is truly the only goal. Once you get into the postseason, all bets are off.
The Flames have previously had a few outstanding regular seasons over the last four seasons, finishing first in the Pacific Division twice. In those playoffs, they lost in the first round in five games and just barely got past the Dallas Stars last year in seven games. If the Flames get in on a hot streak, and have their players catch fire at the right time, there is no telling what could happen.
Additionally, regardless of what you may think of the roster, coaching, and management, winning solves most problems. Imagine the Flames sneaking into the postseason, and winning a first round series, this would equal the success of last year. Put that into perspective.
Plus, who doesn’t want playoff hockey?
If you’re still hoping for the team to tank, here is some math to make you change your mind.
The Flames right now sit 18th from the bottom in terms of points percentage, which means they aren’t in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes. If they lose all three games, there is no way for them to sneak into the lottery to win the rights to draft him. Sure they could get a better pick out of luck, but the chances are slim. The odds of them making the playoffs are far greater than them getting a top pick.
For those who have grown sour of Darryl Sutter and his antics, you may think that losing three straight and not making the playoffs will further allow the team to make a coaching change. If they win and get in, isn’t that the end goal after all? Although Sutter’s handling of young players is a more systemic issue, I think it’s been evidently clear that this team and this structure just doesn’t work. Even if they make it in, it doesn’t guarantee that changes still won’t happen.
Hop off the tank
If you’re on Team Tank at this point in the season, I’d love to ask: Why?
The team isn’t bad enough to warrant a high draft pick, so cheering for the playoffs should provide some short-term joy. At some point, you have to just enjoy Flames hockey (to a certain extent) and there is no better time than now.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire