SUN Hockey Pool

Flames keeping the faith

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:00 AM ET

COLUMBUS — It was a stretch of games that was supposed to be the start of their climb in the conference standings.

Instead, following a third straight loss, the Calgary Flames are even further behind in what has become a near impossible task of elevating themselves into a NHL playoff spot.

But to keep that slim hope alive — at least for the sake of their own sanity — the only thing they can do is actually believe it’s possible.

“There’s nothing easy about it. There’s nothing that’s gonna be easy about it,” said Flames head coach Brent Sutter after a 3-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets that left the Minnesota Wild, the Edmonton Oilers and his squad to battle for the bottom three spots in the Western Conference.

“We just have to stay positive and continue to stay together. I think that’s the biggest thing — you’ve got to keep pushing and pushing together and make that sure we handle everything the right way.

“It’s adversity. We’ve just got to look at ourselves and take care of it ourselves.”

With a 14-17-3 record and an ever-increasing eight-point gap between themselves and the eighth seed, the Flames could easily call it quits.

They could argue in the dressing room and point fingers at other players or coaches, collect their paycheques and wait for the massive changes so many have come to expect at some point this season or next summer.

But despite having played less than 24 hours earlier — another heartbreaking loss against the Wild — the Flames put forth a pretty strong effort against the Blue Jackets.

That’s got to be encouraging to the fans who are still watching games away from the Saddledome.

The Flames tucked themselves in around 3 a.m. after the flight from a snowy Land of 10,000 Lakes and had little jump early in the game.

But they battled. And had they capitalized on just one more of their many scoring opportunities, they might have even pulled out a win.

Believers are few and far between among a jaded fan base. Sutter still seems to be one of them in spite of his allegedly shaky hold on the coaching reins.

The Flames will leave the negativity to the media, Internet chat forums and anyone else who’s already tossed a shovel-full of dirt on their chances of turning their season around.

What else can they do?

“We can’t get off our game. And the guys can’t get down. We’ve got to stay with it and keep moving forward,” Sutter said. “It’s adversity, and it’s how you deal with it.

“The guys have stuck together, and we have to continue to do so.”

Anything else would be just plain depressing.

twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve


Videos

Photos