Situation critical

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

Desperation.

The way Alex Tanguay sees it, that's the difference between the Calgary Flames of the last few days and the team from a couple of weeks ago.

To the left-winger, the Flames have dropped two straight games, both when a single victory would mean advancing to the playoffs, simply because desperation was missing.

"We might have relaxed a little bit knowing we only needed two points to get into the playoffs, or Colorado to lose one (game), and I think the mindset might have changed a little bit. And we're all guilty of doing that on the team," Tanguay said.

"We've shown the last two games, in the third period we were dominating when we were desperate, and that's what we did the six games before that and why were were on a six-game winning streak. (Tonight) we have to be desperate and there's no choice."

Calgary is still in the driver's seat, three points up on the Avs and both teams have two games remaining.

A Calgary victory tonight over the slumping Edmonton Oilers would clinch a playoff spot. An Avs loss at home to Nashville would, too, but with the way Colorado is playing, the Flames certainly aren't banking on it.

Both team's meet tomorrow night in Denver to end the season but the Flames don't want, and likely can't afford, to let their fate get that far.

"The way they're going, they're probably not going to lose," Tanguay said. "But I'm sure if you asked them, they'd rather be in our our shoes.

"I think we kinda shot ourselves in the foot the last couple of games by only playing the third period and that's unacceptable, especially at this time of year."

True, but the heat is certainly on the Flames. They're the ones who went into their final four games needing just one victory to clinch a post-season ticket. Beating the Oilers should be expected but the pressure of the situation is completely on Calgary.

"There's pressure the whole time but right now is as much pressure as you have all year," admitted centre Craig Conroy. "Even though we play Colorado, we want to end it at home. We just have to grab the bull by the horns and win this game. We're the ones with the (edge) so we're in a good position. We've just got to do it. We've just got to close it out."

To possibly make it a little harder on the Flames is the uncertainty regarding defenceman Robyn Regehr. He left in the first period of Thursday's loss and went to a doctor with an apparent knee injury he and the team were tight-lipped about.

And then you have an Oilers team that would love to stick a nail in their rivals' hearts.

Edmonton may have only one win in its last 19 games but nobody expects the Oilers to lay down and die.

"It's still a rivalry and there's so much parity," Tanguay said. "They have a lot of young guys playing for spots next year and a lot of guys with something to prove, so I don't think they'll hand it to us. We're a much better team when we're desperate. This is certainly desperation time for all of us."


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