For the final week of the season, the Calgary Flames players must be drawing out their inner Lloyd Christmas.
As long as the mathematicians say they have a chance — however slim it may be — they will keep fighting for a playoff spot.
Ever the optimist, Jim Carrey’s character in the classic 1994 film doesn’t give up on his dream girl, even when she tells him his chances are one out of a million.
“So you’re telling me there’s a chance. Yeah!” Christmas says in delight.
How often is that phrase being uttered around the Saddledome?
The Flames have better odds than one in a million. According to sportsclubstats.com, the Flames have a 4.7% chance of playing past next Sunday.
If they win out, beating the Edmonton Oilers Wednesday and the Vancouver Canucks Saturday, the odds go up to 15.1%.
What the Flames need is a collapse from the Chicago Blackhawks, starting with Tuesday’s game in Montreal against the Canadiens, who can clinch a playoff berth of their own with a victory.
Put Flames centre Olli Jokinen down as a glass half-full optimist in the neighbourhood of Christmas.
“Sometimes it’s tough to close out,” Jokinen said of the Hawks after the Flames beat the Colorado Avalanche Sunday.
“Who knows if they lose the next game. We know the schedule, we know who they play against, we know there’s no such thing as an easy game.
“Only thing we can do is keep winning our games and see where we are.”
For the Flames to be officially done, the Anaheim Ducks need to collect two points from their final three games, and the Blackhawks need three points from four outings.
The Flames are focused on the Hawks, who have a reasonably tough schedule with Montreal, St. Louis and a home-and-home with Detroit to finish out.
“Hopefully they start squeezing their sticks a little more,” said Flames winger Alex Tanguay.
“We’re certainly gonna be watching. (The Hawks and Ducks) are the only two teams we can catch and we’ll certainly be aware of who they’re playing against and what their situation is.”
The results lined up perfectly Sunday.
Not only did the Flames win, the Hawks lost at home to the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Dallas Stars knocked off the Ducks in Anaheim.
The Flames do need to be concerned about the Stars, who have four games left and need just six points from them to top Calgary.
But every day the Flames stay alive gives them a bit of life — and extra hope.
“Now we’re within reach again,” Flames head coach Brent Sutter said about moving to within a point of Chicago.
“I know the games in hand are still there but you can’t dwell on that, you can’t worry about that.
“It’s just trying to win games ourselves. We came out here and we won two big games on the road and it’s tightened the gap up for us again. Now we’re right there.”