SUN Hockey Pool

Flames' sights set on post-season

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:49 PM ET

OTTAWA — It’s been a long time since Jarome Iginla has been in this position.

Waking up nine points out of the playoff picture Thursday morning, he could easily be resigned to what was almost automatic for his Flames early in his career.

An early summer vacation.

But he’s determined to not let that feeling of acceptance sink in.

In fact, he says, it’s easy not to.

“No. I think we’re all competitive. We all grew up playing sports. We love sports, we love competing, and until you’re absolutely eliminated, it’s part of sports,” the Flames captain said Thursday after practice at Scotiabank Place.

“It’s natural to keep going.”

The odds seem nearly insurmountable, but the Flames have set goals for themselves. Win two of every three games. Baby steps.

“There’s enough games left. Playing .600 hockey is good hockey, but it is possible,” Iginla said of the playoffs.

“Is it hard to keep going? No. This is the NHL. It’s fun to play every game. It’s competitive. You want to win no matter what.

“As far as finding reasons to play or want to win or whatever — it’s natural.”

Even though they’re avoiding the big picture in favour of smaller segments and goals, the Flames aren’t unrealistic.

They realize the massive task ahead of them, with every loss hurting their chances of returning to the post-season, but have no choice but to be positive.

“You never wake up thinking you’re out of it. You always think you have a good chance of getting in,” said defenceman Mark Giordano.

“We know it’s an uphill climb. It’s a tough thing to do, the position we’re in, but we set goals for ourselves and we’re going to try and do it.

“If we reach our goal and don’t (make the playoffs), we’ll be right there.”

The Senators said this week they won’t stop fighting despite an even more gloomy picture than the Flames.

Both will need a victory Friday to turn things around and improve their chances of moving up the standings.

Either way, the odds are stacked against both squads.

“We want to make this an epic story,” said Flames defender Steve Staios.

“It’s a slow process moving up, but if we stay with two out of three, that’ll be around

95 points and give you a shot (at the playoffs),” Iginla said.

“That’s gotta be our focus. It’s not the big picture.

“It’s a lot of points to make up right now. But it’s short segments. That’s where we’re at.

“We know we put ourselves in a position we have our work cut out for us, but we believe we can do that.

“It really is important to make sure we don’t get discouraged.”


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