That's what the standings say and that's what the NHL schedule says.
However, they are really playing in a place called Fantasyland.
They go into the 2012-13 season thinking they have a reasonable shot at the playoffs, meaning they also have a chance at the NHL's Holy Grail.
After all, it was just a few months ago that the Los Angeles Kings finished as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and then pummeled the Vancouver Canucks, the St. Louis Blues, the Phoenix Coyotes before they outlasted the New Jersey Devils to win the first Stanley Cup in the team's history.
Logically, there's nothing wrong with that kind of thought process. The Flames finished with 90 points last season, just five points behind the Kings. How hard could it be to make up that difference over the course of the season?
The problem with that thought process is that it assumes that the Flames are a team on the rise. They are not. They are an older team—they were the 10th-oldest team in the league last year, according to QuantHockey.com—and they depend on aging stars Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff for whatever hope they have.
What they should be thinking of as they prepare for the 2012-13 season is a way to build a strong and secure team for the future. They should not be hoping that they can catch lightning in a bottle and put together a miracle run this year.
Depending on miracles is a faulty way to go about business, and the sooner that general manager Jay Feaster realizes this, the better off the Flames will be.
However, it's doubtful that he will ever get that message. Trading assets like Kiprusoff would probably help the Flames over the long run, even if it would weaken them for the short term.
Kiprusoff could be an attractive goaltender for a number of NHL teams. Prior to the end of the 2011-12 season, Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal surmised that the Toronto Maple Leafs would be a much better team with Kiprusoff. The Toronto goaltending situation has not gotten any better in the ensuing months.
The Leafs may still be talking about Roberto Luongo, but Brian Burke has not pulled the trigger on a deal that would upgrade the Toronto goaltending situation yet.
In addition to the Leafs, the Chicago Blackhawks could use an upgrade in goal and so could the Florida Panthers, according to SBNation.com. Both of those teams are also involved in Roberto Luongo trade rumors, so it would be up to Feaster to move quickly if he wants to make the best deal possible.
But the Calgary general manager has not indicated that moving Kiprusoff is going to happen any time soon. However, if labor difficulties are overcome and the season starts on time, it's likely the Flames will soon find themselves on the outside looking in.
At that point, Kiprusoff may be one of the first names mentioned pre-trade deadline talks.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!