The Smart Sports Report

Heat Building Up In Calgary: Will The Flames Make The Stanley Cup Playoffs?


Miikka Kiprusoff
Calgary Flames netminder, Miikka Kiprusoff

67 games have been played by the Calgary Flames and at this point in the season they are on the outside looking in. The Calgary Flames currently sit 9th in the Western Conference 1 point out of a playoff spot. The stretch from now to the end of the season is so crucial if the Flames are serious about making the playoffs.Right now they sit in a rather interesting position. 1 point back of the 8th placed, Detroit Red Wings. However Detroit has played 1 more game than the Flames. They Flames do have a game tonight against the Vancouver Canucks. A win would get the Calgary Flames into the playoffs, as would a OT loss.

Hold on for a second though. Vancouver is quite a tall order. They are currently seated 3rd in the Western Conference with 87 points, which is 10 more points than the Calgary Flames I might add. The Vancouver/Calgary rivalry is one of the best in all of hockey history. The passionate hate that the Calgary Flames have for the Canucks might help them bring that something special to raise their game. Then again the same thing can be said for the Canucks can’t it?

Vancouver just returned from their road trip and what a road trip it was. They finished it on a good note with a win, but if you want to talk wins you have to talk Calgary Flames. The Calgary Flames are riding a 4 game win streak coming into this game. After a changed mentality in the locker room they are back on the right track and are pushing for the playoffs.

This win could be a great momentum builder for Calgary. Vancouver is the northwest division leader. To come in and just beat them like that will do great things for their confidence level. A win tonight will be key in the playoff push for the Flames so let’s hope they can pull it off.

Now let’s take the focus away from Vancouver for a moment and look at the rest of the games they are going to play.

Here’s the list of their opponents in order according to the schedule:

  • Vancouver Canucks (currently 3rd place in the Western Conference)
  • Detroit Red Wings (currently 8th place in the Western Conference)
  • Colorado Avalanche (currently 6th in the Western Conference)
  • San Jose Sharks (currently 1st in the Western Conference)
  • Minnesota Wild (currently 12th in the Western Conference)
  • Anaheim Ducks (currently 13th in the Western Conference)
  • New York Islanders (currently 14th in the Eastern Conference)
  • Boston Bruins (currently 8th in the Eastern Conference)
  • Washington Capitals (currently 1st in the Eastern Conference and 1st in the entire NHL)
  • Phoenix Coyotes (currently 4th in the Western Conference)
  • Colorado Avalanche (currently 6th in the Western Conference)
  • Chicago Blackhawks (currently 2nd in the Western Conference)
  • San Jose Sharks (currently 1st in the Western Conference)
  • Minnesota Wild (currently 13th in the Western Conference)
  • Vancouver Canucks (currently 3rd in the Western Conference)

The schedule is certainly not one that favours Calgary at all. Out of the 15 remaining games to be played for the Calgary Flames, 11 out of 15 opponents are currently in the playoffs. Ouch! 7 out of 11 playoff teams are currently seated 1st to 4th place. Once again, ouch!

So what do the Flames need to do to get through this tough schedule ahead? Which people need to play big roles in the Flames playoff push?

Goaltending is always a key part in any team’s success. Luckily Calgary should have no worries about their back-end. Miikka Kiprusoff is one of the absolute best goalies in the world today. This season he has been phenomenal to say the least. He is currently 5th in Save percentage with .924 and he is 3rd in the Goals Against Average category with 2.18. Some solid stats for sure. Let’s hope he can keep it up in these crucial 15 games.

They have a solid back up playing for them too. For the past few years they have had an incapable, Curtis McElhinney playing back up for them. They managed to get Vesa Toskala on board, which is a big step up. Vesa had been playing for Toronto the past few years. This year he bounced from Toronto to Anaheim and then finally to Calgary. Reuniting two old teammates in Miikka Kiprusoff and Vesa Toskala is a good move on the Flames part. Vesa is most certainly capable of just stepping in and winning the game and Miikka Kiprusoff does not need to worry about his starting goalie position. He’s got that absolutely locked up.

Having a good goalie is a great factor, but you also have to have a defense who is capable of making sure he does not get overworked. This season the Flames made a big splash on the defensive end moving Dion Phaneuf. At one point Dion looked like a guy who couldn’t be touched, time went on and he found himself in the blue and white of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Flames did get a great defenseman back in the process in Ian White and 3 forwards the shall be discussed later. The Flames have a very solid defensive line. They can contribute on offense as well as get the puck out of the zone for defense. The Calgary Flames defense has to really come alive in these last games if the Flames want to find themselves in the playoffs at the end of the season.

Lastly the comes the offense. Although a great offensively driven offense is important, it’s just as important to have that offense come back and help out with the defending. What I’m getting at is the offensive contributions are as important as the defensive play. 

The Calgary Flames will have no problems scoring. The line of Rene Bourque/Matt Stajan/Jarome Iginla is more than capable of putting on plenty of points when it comes to offensive contribution. Goals will come and go, but these players need to know how to play defense. In the end it’s not which team can run up and score that wins the hockey game, but the team that can contain the other team’s offense. If the Flames can concentrate on that and get the points when the opportunity comes there will be no issues with their playoff push.

15 games lay ahead for Calgary. Which means 15 opportunities for a win and 15 opportunities for a loss. How they take advantage of those opportunities will determine whether they will be in or out, whether they will be contenders or pretenders, whether we will see a Canadian hockey team at the top again. Time will tell, fortunately enough we won’t have to wait long for our end result. 

So stay tuned, because things are definitely going to get real exciting in the world of hockey.

About these ads

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.