The Calgary Flames players noted they needed to go on a run if they had any shot of making this year’s NHL postseason. And, what did they do the first game out with a chance to kick things off on the right foot? They let a lead slip away in the final moments of a game against the Edmonton Oilers and lost 3-2 on Friday night.
It was a highly-contested game. That said, with the loss, the Flames have now made it very difficult to claw their way back into playoff contention. They sit tied for 5th in the Scotia North Division with Vancouver, but they are six points back of the 4th place Montreal Canadiens, who also happen to hold five games in hand on the Flames. Calgary wouldn’t just need to go on an incredible run to close out the season, they’d need to have other teams start losing. With three games against Toronto (wins there won’t see the Flames catch the Leafs) and two games against Vancouver and Ottawa each (teams they aren’t trying to catch), it doesn’t look promising.
As Jason Gregor of TSN 1260 put it Friday night, “Oilers unofficially put end to any chance Flames have of catching them in playoffs…and Montreal. Four spots in North are basically clinched. Now just will be who finishes 1,2,3,4….”
What Next for the Flames?
No declaration has been made, but expect chatter to roll out of Calgary that the Flames are open for business. Names that could be on the move include goaltender David Rittich, center Derek Ryan and a handful of other pending UFAs. It is unlikely most, if not all of those players will be back.
The real name to watch will be that of Sam Bennett. Sportsnet’s Eric Francis believes plenty of teams could line up to make a pitch for the forward Sam Bennett, who earlier this season was looking to be moved by the organization.
From there, watch for the Flames to shake things up in the offseason, if they can. The salary cap is still going to get in the way of a total overhaul, but not making the playoffs won’t be acceptable in Calgary and the new coach isn’t going anywhere.
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