The fans voiced their displeasure, the star goalie faced questions, and again the Flames suffered a loss in a big game. A game the Flames needed in order to remain on the 4 points in every 3 games pace the team believes will be required to make the playoffs. An ambitious goal for a team that has not been over .500 in months, but a goal that until last night the Flames were following perfectly. Coming back off an impressive road trip and some solid hockey, the Flames surprisingly look disinterested and slow. The 6 points in 4 games on the road trip suggests a positive, but are the Flames are playing well or is this another illusion the team has become famous for?
There is no question the Montreal game was a resilient effort but is it fair to call it a comeback, because they fell short as they did in Carolina. While a glass half full person points to the fight in the Flames to argue that they can play good hockey, the glass half empty person asks “why are you down 4 goals in the first place?” For a team that needs every point they seem to have developed a trend of slow starts that put them behind the 8 ball. The “comeback” demonstrates resiliency but also questions the ability of the team to come all the way back to win games. Just like most of the season, the Flames continue to fall just a little short in their goals…..
However, up until last night the Flames were on track to reach their goal of 4 points in ever 3 games. A goal the originated as win 2 of every 3 is now simply 4 points in ever 3 games. 3 OT/SOL points are all that is keeping this team on their pace and fans with some degree of hope. While keeping games close is a positive sign, how many teams have played solid hockey all the way to the Stanley Cup or jumped back in a playoff race?
The opponent last night provides a different perspective of what a team needs to do with their backs to the walls. Back on Dec 18th/20th when the Wild took the back to back games against the Flames it marked a huge turnaround in their season. Many fans will remember that going into those games the Flames and Wild were neck and neck in the standings of the Western Conference. This morning, the Minnesota Wild are 7 points ahead of the Flames and 1 point back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. So in the same time that the Flames have gained little ground on their competition, the Wild have themselves right back into the playoffs with some great hockey. During that time have only benefited from the loser point twice, and won some of their games with their 3rd string goalie. The Wild are on pace with their goal, while the Flames remind their fans that it takes time and patience to climb back in a playoff race.
Patience has long been considered a virtue, but how long until patience forms into reality and the team is seen for what it is and where it should be slotted in the NHL picture?