Monday, March 19, 2007

Calgary, that’s Colorado gaining in your rear view mirror

The fantastic flame outs on the road are starting to catch up to the Calgary Flames, who at one time held a pretty impressive lead over the trailers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

But after far too many road losses and a current losing streak of five of their last six games, the Flames are in danger of fading from view completely.

It was only a few short weeks ago that Calgary had thoughts of claiming title to the Northwest Division and a third place finish in the playoff rankings. Now with both Vancouver and Minnesota putting distance between themselves and the Flames, the idea of just hanging on to what they have has become scripture.

Those same two weeks ago, many were saying that the Avalanche were done for the year, players free to make their early summer golf plans and Avs fans clear to follow the box scores of early Rockies baseball.

Now all bets are off, with the season running down the final weeks. Suddenly the Flames look quite catchable; it’s a situation that is purely of their own making and one they are hoping to answer quickly.

The Flames and Avs both have ten games remaining; the bad news for Calgary is that six of those games are on the road, a place that seems to have crawled into their minds like an epic Stephen King novel, unleashing any number of demons.

Two key dates for nervous Flames fans, April 3rd when Colorado plays the Flames in Calgary and April 8th when the Flames return the favour in Denver.

They are four points that could be key, the exact same margin that rests between the two teams today. Calgary is no doubt hoping that they end up as meaningless games, a warm up skate for the playoffs to come.

But for a team that doesn’t seem to want to do things the easy way, they had not best be banking on that being the situation. The team that looked so confident at the start of the season is stumbling to the finish line, at risk of missing out on the playoffs completely.

The key is to start winning and winning on the road, without that Albertans will be looking for a new horse to cheer for come April 9th.

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