Late surge by Flames could pay off in playoffs

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

CALGARY -- Fighting for their playoff lives might be just the thing to bring back their fighting spirit.

If there’s one positive way to spin a season that’s seen the Calgary Flames fall from Cup favourite to scrapping for a post-season spot, it’s the idea that if they ultimately make the NHL playoffs, they’ll be playing well enough to carry in momentum.

“In years past, we’ve struggled going into the playoffs. If we get in this year, it’s going to be on a high note,” said Flames defenceman Mark Giordano. “That’s a positive, and we’ve talked about that.”

People are once again starting to talk about the Flames with hope after a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks Friday at the Saddledome in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated.

“For us to make it, we believe we probably have to win (seven or eight more games),” said Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who is excited about the idea of going into the post-season on a hot streak. “You’re going in winning — at that point, we’d be 15 out of 20 or something like that. It’s pretty good hockey.”

Carrying that into the first round might also mean a potential upset over a squad like the Sharks or the Chicago Blackhawks instead of a fifth straight exit in the opening best-of-seven series.

Friday’s emotional win over the Sharks was a great way to boost their confidence and spur belief they can do serious damage against a top seed.

“In the West, especially, you get in any of those eight spots and you have a chance to knock off anybody and get on rolls,” said Iginla, who looked emotionally invested in Friday’s win. “The seedings aren’t necessarily the most important thing. You’ve just got to be there.

“We did that way back when,” Iglinla added, reminiscing for a brief moment about the spring of 2004, when they knocked off the three top seeds to make the Cup final.

“You look at the Oilers and other teams that have made it and gone on the runs. It is nice to go into the playoffs playing good. We believe we can and will. We look forward to the challenge.”

Keeping pace with the Detroit Red Wings, the Flames have now won six of their nine post-Olympic games.

“You’ve got these teams that are just clawing to get in, and they’re ready to go,” Sarich said of the teams like his own battling for a berth. “(The Wings have) been bumped off before in the first round. That’s what we want to do.”

It won’t be the eighth-place Wings at the top this year, and the Flames can bump them out of the playoff picture altogether by stealing their spot.

The Sharks appear locked in among the top seeds.

The Flames have to be licking their chops over a potential rematch with the Sharks in the first round.

But they have to make it to the tournament first.

“The bottom line is we have to take care of business to get in,” Giordano said. “It’s a good challenge for our team.”


Videos

Photos