SUN Hockey Pool

'It’s win out or we’re … going to be out.'

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:23 PM ET

Over their final half dozen outings of the season, the Flames will be talking about taking it one game at a time, one win at a time.

It’s one of the hockey’s biggest cliches, so get ready for it.

Reality is, they know they must win out.

With a four-point deficit to the Colorado Avalanche, the Flames have no choice but to be greedy.

They have to pound down the six pack, so to speak.

Which means no letting up, and no giving up.

It’s how they earned Sunday’s 5-3 win over the league-leading Washington Capitals Sunday afternoon.

“That urgency we showed is what we need more of,” said blueliner Mark Giordano. “There’s no beating around the bush. It’s win out or we’re most likely going to be out.

“We know what it’s going to take, and it’s going to take what we had (to beat the Capitals), a lot of emotion and a lot of desperation.”

Do they have it in them?

Sure, the Flames have shown they have what it takes to battle with the best of them.

There are all kinds of nights when they’ve beat the top teams by showing the moxie needed. Think of that early-December 2-1 win in San Jose over the Sharks.

That was no freebie. It wasn’t a case of mediocre-to-bad goaltending — which was a big reason for Washington’s undoing the other day — nor were there lucky bounces, bad breaks or flukey plays.

It was a matter of buckling down in both ends of the rink and gritting out a victory over another team which gave just as much.

Too often this season, though, that kind of performance has come in fits and starts for the Flames. Rarely has it been prolonged.

Now, they need that inner fire to burn for the final two weeks, or else this “elite team” — as GM Darryl Sutter repeatedly called his squad — will be starting summer early.

Miraculously, the Flames are still alive, at least mathematically, but their situation could be upgraded from hopeful to possible if they can beat the Phoenix Coyotes at home Wednesday and if they can defeat the Avalanche Friday night in Denver.

Those are a couple of big “ifs,” but at least it’s possible.

Still, the Flames’ only hope of creating a miracle comeback goes beyond finding their urgency.

It’s finding out how to keep it.

This is a team which could have returned home from its three-game Eastern Conference road trip tied with Colorado had it managed to win those games against the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins.

Instead, they were tentative — almost as if scared to make a mistake — against the Islanders and the fear of failure became reality.

Then, in Boston, it was a case of falling behind and then falling apart.

That’s hardly an example of a team willing to go down swinging.

Pardon the skeptics for wondering aloud whether this crew has enough drive to finish the season with a seven-game winning streak.

What we’ve seen all season doesn’t bode well.

What we watched in defeating the Capitals does. But it’s only a start.

“No matter what happens from him on out, score-wise, in games, we have to play with the first-period desperation we showed (in Washington),” Giordano said. “Even when they came back, and with their firepower, a lot of guys on our team showed a lot in defending. There were a lot of blocked shots, all those things that help to win.”

Do it six more times. That’s the big-picture challenge.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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