SUN Hockey Pool

No fans of Flames

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

It's not easy cheering for an archrival, especially when they never seem to help you out.

The Calgary Flames could have done the Edmonton Oilers a favour by beating the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday as the NHL regular season nears a conclusion.

But instead of helping their own cause and that of the Oilers, the Flames were humbled in a 6-2 loss, allowing the Canucks to climb into sole possession of eighth place in the Western Conference standings.

As if the Oilers and their fans didn't already have enough reasons to detest the Flames.

"I was watching the game and I was a little upset about Vancouver winning," said Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid. "Still nothing changes for us. We still have to win our last two games and hopefully Nashville or Vancouver will lose two games and we're going to be in."

Sunday was the second time in a week the Oilers were looking to get some help from the Flames. And it was the second time in a week they were let down.

Last Monday, the Oilers were on the heels of the Colorado Avalanche for eighth place in the conference and needed the Flames to win an encounter in the Mile High city to keep them within striking distance.

The Flames lost 2-0 keeping the Avalanche just out of reach when the Oilers went in to face them a few nights later in Colorado.

"It's an unusual set of circumstances when we had mutual objectives," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "But that happens in the game when the game just gets away from you which happened in their game (Sunday). But there is still plenty for us to play for."

Granted the Oilers have to win both of their remaining games to have a chance at a playoff spot. Even then it's not guaranteed with the other teams in the race having games in hand.

But as far as games against the Flames go, there hasn't been one with this much on the line for the Oilers since Esa Tikkanen scored the overtime winner in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series in 1991.

If the Oilers lose to the Flames tonight (7 p.m.) at Rexall Place, and both the Nashville Predators and Canucks win, then the playoff chase is over in Edmonton.

"There's not a whole lot we can do about other teams, how they play and the points they get," said Oilers defenceman Tom Gilbert. "All we can do is come back (tonight) and play them like we did on Saturday. Then hopefully, eventually in the last four or five games of the season here, some team helps us out. We can't control what other teams do. All we can do is go out there and play our game."

By losing to Vancouver, the Flames have actually kept themselves within reach. They go into tonight's game four points up on the Oilers with three games left to play.

If they go on to lose their last three games of the year and the Oilers win both of theirs, the two teams will finish with 90 points. However, the Oilers would finish with 42 wins to the Flames 40, thus ending up higher in the standings. The Oilers would also own the season series winning five of the eight encounters.

That alone adds some spice to tonight's game.

"I think there's enough motivation as it is to play (tonight's) game," said Oilers forward Kyle Brodziak. "We're still capable of doing it. (Sunday) would have helped a lot, but that's something we can't control and (tonight) is something we can control. We just have to make sure we come out and get things done and get the win."


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