Flames keeping the faith

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:18 PM ET

The Calgary Flames didn’t have to practice before boarding Thursday’s flight to St. Louis.

With a bit of spare time before departure, perhaps the travel itinerary should have included a church service, a voodoo ceremony or a stop at Olympic Plaza to throw a generous number of coins in the fountain.

“You’re not supposed to do that — just pray when you need something,” said Flames blueliner Mark Giordano. “You’re supposed to pray all the time.”

It’s probably too late to start now.

Although the mathematicians will argue there’s still a shot, Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at the Saddledome spells an end to any realistic thought the Flames might be able to climb back into a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Heading into Thursday’s NHL action, the Flames remained in a tie for ninth spot in the conference, trailing the eighth-place Chicago Blackhawks by three points. The Hawks, however, have a half-dozen dates remaining on their calendar, while the Flames hit the ice just four more times.

The seventh-place Nashville Predators are now five points out of reach, and Wednesday’s defeat against the Ducks erased any legitimate chance of catching up with the plucky bunch from Southern California.

“It’s a tough loss. We were putting our whole season on it, so it’s a tough one,” admitted Flames winger Tom Kostopoulos. “We’ve just gotta try to win our games. You never know what’s going to happen with the other teams, so we can’t just let up. We’ve got to keep trying to win.”

Truth is, it won’t matter what the Flames accomplish on a two-game road trip to St. Louis and Denver or in home games against the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks next week.

Just don’t try telling that to the players.

After Wednesday’s morning skate, Pearl Jam’s Alive blared from an off-limits area of the Flames’ locker-room at the Saddledome.

Just moments after Corey Perry’s empty-netter sent the Saddledome faithful rushing to the C-Train, George Michael’s Faith might have been a more appropriate choice.

At least, that’s what head coach Brent Sutter and his skaters were preaching.

“We’ve got four games left to play here and you never know what can happen,” Sutter said after Wednesday’s setback. “Obviously, losing tonight, our odds diminish again, but it’s still that chance. It’s still there and we have to get on the road here and play our butts off and try to get some wins on the road, then come back home here and we’ve got two home games left and try to finish that off the right way. And let’s see what happens.

“Obviously, your odds are stacking up greater against you, but it’s still not all the way there and there’s still something there. There’s still life there.”

Barely.

Just a couple days ago, Friday’s clash in St. Louis was being pinpointed as easy pickings.

But, just when you figured things couldn’t get any worse for the falling Flames, the Blues will be oozing confidence after Wednesday’s 10-3 stomping of the Detroit Red Wings.

Which makes you wonder, if the Blues can hit double-digits against the second-place Red Wings, well, maybe miracles can happen.

“We’re not mathematically out yet — that’s the way I know all the guys in this room are looking at it ... Who knows, come Friday, what the standings are going to look like?” Giordano said. “Hope for some help, yeah, that’s all we can do now. Obviously we need some help — we need a lot of help — but I’ve seen stranger things happen.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

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