Today’s episode of the Calgary Flames is brought to you by the letter “W” and the number “2”.
The word of the day is win.
The Flames must find a way to string together two wins, or they’ll never make up ground.
They headed out of town Wednesday for games on consecutive nights in Los Angeles and Anaheim feeling good about themselves for vanquishing the Tampa Bay Lightning during a short time at home. However, that means little if they can’t build on it.
This is a team which hasn’t won consecutive games since their Oct. 26 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, the last win in that solid 6-3-0 start to the season.
The old cliche about one game at a time frankly won’t cut it any more for Calgary’s hockey heroes, who now sit 14th in the Western Conference — one point ahead of an Oilers team which has a game in hand.
The fact is, two won’t even do for the Flames at this point, but the aspirations must start somewhere.
Unless they start stringing together some legitimate winning streaks — four in a row, seven of eight, 10 of 12, that kind of thing — they’ll continue to sit perilously close to the bottom of the conference standings, never mind those thoughts of making the playoffs.
It must be possible, even for a Calgary team which hasn’t played and won to expectations over the past seven weeks, to cobble together a winning streak.
Every other team in the west has managed a run of some sorts since Calgary last tasted victory in consecutive outings.
Even the Oilers managed a four-game winning streak, which is impressive since a month ago it looked like they may not win four games the rest of the season.
Yet, two has been too much to Calgary.
By no means would anybody outside the organization believe the Flames are a Stanley Cup contender, but they’re not bad enough to do the win-one, lose-one (or two or three) thing all season.
This Flames team has holes, but it’s not a reincarnation of the 1974-75 Washington Capitals, who won just nine games, the 1980-81 Winnipeg Jets who went 30 games without a win or even last season’s Oilers, a team which won just 11 games after New Year’s Eve.
What’s amazing is how many other ways ‘two’ comes into play for this team.
Had they managed two more wins so far over the season, the Flames would actually have been part of the logjam of teams tied for eighth-spot in the Western Conference before Wednesday’s games kicked off.
Despite all those struggles, the Flames sat just four points back of five teams — Los Angeles, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis, Nashville and Colorado — in the ridiculously tight Western Conference.
Two more wins would also have the Flames at the magical .500 mark they’re trying to reach. (At least .500 in a league where an extra-time loss actually means a tie, but you get the picture.)
Two is also the critical point for winning games. When the Flames have allowed two or fewer goals, their record is a very strong 10-3-1. By the way, two goals for would be key, also, since all four of those defeats were by 2-1 scores.
For the past few years, the Flames have regularly been accused of being a team which becomes too easily impressed by its own success.
Whether it’s true can be debated, but considering how often this team has gone from high to low this season, the case for that theory is becoming louder.
It’s up ‘two’ the Flames ‘two’ prove those critics wrong.
Or is that ‘two’ much to ask?