Calgary Flames: Window Closing on NHL Playoff Contention

Jim FlanneryAnalyst IMarch 23, 2012

Matt Stajan has been one of the few bright spots for the Flames recently
Matt Stajan has been one of the few bright spots for the Flames recentlyDoug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Calgary Flames have snuck into the final playoff spot a couple times in recent weeks. Since then, however, they have floundered.

They have lost their last four games, although doing so in overtime over the last three has earned them a single point in each contest.

Unfortunately for the Flames, eking out a point per game with the regular season winding down is simply not good enough.

After last night's 3-2 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild, Calgary is stuck in 11th place in the Western Conference, still just a tantalizing two points shy of the eight spot and the final playoff berth.

Two of the teams they have to get past to make that spot have games in hand on Calgary, however, so pushing past them will likely require the Flames to run the table the rest of the way.

For a team whose offense has gone to sleep once again, that doesn't seem too likely.

Calgary has only managed six goals during this current losing streak. Even with Miikka Kiprusoff doing an admirable job between the pipes, a goal and a half per game isn't getting it done.

Kipper needs some help if the Flames are to make the playoffs
Kipper needs some help if the Flames are to make the playoffsHarry How/Getty Images


Only three teams in the West have fewer goals than the Flames, and only four have given up more goals. This isn't a winning combination and hasn't been all year.

On the upside, forward Matt Stajan has gotten hot recently and his eight points in eight games even earned him the NHLPA's Player Of The Week award. For a guy who has struggled all year to step it up when the games count the most has been encouraging.

But while Stajan has been hot, the rest of the team has gone ice cold.

Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, Olli Jokinen, Jay Bouwmeester and Curtis Glencross have combined for all of three points during the slump. These are the guys the Flames count on to produce, and they have let the team down.

General Manager Jay Feaster decided to stand pat at the trade deadline and not bring in any extra scoring punch. That's looking to be a major mistake right now. If the team misses the payoffs yet again, it will be high time to blow this mess up and start looking to the future, because clearly the group they have right now isn't getting it done.

The Flames have seven games remaining in their regular season schedule. Three of those games are against opponents they have to pass to make the playoffs, and one of those games is against a team below them in the standings. If they have any hope of finding their way to the eight spot, they have to win those games outright and not even give up single points to those guys.

If they can't get the offense restarted, these games—that they have to have—will continue to slip through their fingers, and they will wind up on the golf course early for the third straight year.

As things stand right now, it doesn't look good.