Mar 22, 2011, 2:22 AM EDT
It feels strange to get really negative about the Calgary Flames’ playoff chances tonight, but every loss is going to hurt a team that won’t be able to “control its destiny” like other West teams in the playoff picture.
Sure, the Flames do have the same amount of standings points (85) as the eighth place Anaheim Ducks. Of course, the catch is that the 10th-place Flames only have seven games remaining, while the Ducks (and ninth place Dallas Stars) boast three more opportunities to milk a point or two out of games.
So even though they produced a nice effort in losing to the Los Angeles Kings in a shootout, these might be the type of nights that Calgary looks back on with sadness if they don’t make the postseason. Even if you cannot really fault them for their efforts.
It was a tightly played defensive game, with both goals coming in the closing minutes of the third period. Jarret Stoll scored a rebound goal to give the Kings a 1-0 lead with a little less than six minutes remaining in regulation. It didn’t take long for the Flames to respond, as Olli Jokinen received a nice breakout pass from Steve Staios and tied it up 65 seconds later.
Stoll also scored during the shootout while Anze Kopitar wrapped it up for the Kings in the skills competition. Alex Tanguay was the only Flames player to score in the shootout, roofing it during Calgary’s first shot.
Both goalies were strong when called up. Jonathan Quick made 27 saves for his 31st win of the 2010-11 season while Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 26 shots in a losing effort.
While the Flames teeter toward extinction at 10th place with 85 points in 75 games played, Los Angeles improved its playoff odds greatly. They have 88 points in 73 games played, placing them in fifth in the West. Naturally, their margin of error isn’t very large either, but every little inch of space is preference going down the stretch.
Could we see five teams from the Pacific Division in the playoffs this season? It’s not out of the realm of possibility. It might even be more likely than seeing the Flames play another game beyond April 10th.
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