Flames can't play blame game

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

The Calgary Flames can complain about a lengthy video review that went against them.

They can bark about the questionable first-period slashing penalties handed to Robyn Regehr and Mikael Backlund, which resulted in Anaheim powerplay goals.

They have legitimate beefs after losing 4-2 to the Ducks Wednesday night, but it doesnít matter now.

It shouldnít have come to that point where their season was on the line before the calendar even flipped to April.

The Flames put themselves in the position where such things could have a major impact and they now must suffer the consequences.

Itís just a matter of time and the Flames will be officially eliminated from advancing to the post-season. It could be as early as Sunday when they travel to Colorado and face the Avalanche, two nights after meeting the St. Louis Blues.

It could be the next day.

Ultimately, it doesnít matter when it happens because itís going to happen.

However, itís wrong to pin the disappointment of missing the second season on Wednesday nightís frustrating defeat at the hands of the Ducks, or the officiating crew of Gord Dwyer and Marc Joanette and ó moreso the video review team in Toronto that said it wasnít conclusive Anaheim goalie Ray Emery pulled the puck over the line with his blocker.

Besides, the officials gave Calgary plenty of opportunity to draw even with the early third-period powerplay chances.

The Flames were guilty of only scoring on a five-on-three during those chances.

Like their season, it wasnít enough.

Credit them for giving the college try, all the way to the end of this outing.

Remember when it seemed their season was going to the dogs way back in November?

When the solid turnaround seemed to be just window dressing even in mid-January?

When it took a spectacular run over more than 30 games to become part of the playoff picture? And had they not gone through injuries to David Moss and Brendan Morrison in the last few weeks, they likely wouldnít have gone into the season-killing swoon which started in the Phoenix heat.

But thatís where they found themselves, in a position where such a skid at this time of year was deadly.

All because of the razor-thin margin for error created when they won just once in eight games in November.

It was a crucial skid created because a team which failed to make the playoffs last season was slow to buy into what head coach Brent Sutter spent all last season trying to sell.

When they did, it resulted in a wonderful story which lasted nearly three months.

A team which seemed done and dusted started winning the way the coaching staff had wanted.

The goals, which every player hopes for, still came, but not at the expense of solid defensive play.

They became the Flames everybody had envisioned, even deposed GM Darryl Sutter, who was on-hand to watch the teamís final meaningful home game.

They rode a strong wave of play for a couple of months, but eventually ran out of gas when the level of play around the league went up one last notch.

Next seasonís Flames wonít likely have as much offensive potential as this yearís squad. The salary cap tightrope created by Darryl Sutterís dubious acquisitions and signings is going to take a bite out of them, unless acting GM Jay Feaster ó or whomever steps into the chair if itís not him ó can do some creative moves.

Because of that potential drop in talent, maybe next seasonís team will buy into the program that much sooner.

It could have made the difference this season.

Instead, itís a couple of more nights of hoping and wishing before the inevitable happens.


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