March 29, 2012
Flames shut out by Kings
By STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
CALGARY - If the Calgary Flames’ season was already on life-support, the Los Angeles Kings just yanked the plug.
Magic numbers aren’t as cut and dry in hockey as they are in baseball.
But Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings was brought to you by the No. 93.
As in, the Calgary Flames’ best-case scenario when the regular-season comes to a close next week is 93 points in the NHL’s Western Conference standings.
Since the invention of the ‘loser point,’ only two seasons featured teams from the West making the playoffs with that few amount of points.
And that’s an optimistic total, with the Flames having to win their final four games and likely needing plenty of help to qualify for the post-season in some miraculous fashion that would be worthy of an Easter weekend TV special if it somehow comes to pass.
Don’t expect a resurrection.
Even the Flames sounded defeated after one of their meekest games of the season at the absolute worst time.
“It’s a tough loss. It’s as tough as any this year — probably the toughest,” said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. “We didn’t generate anything.
“We get up tomorrow and try not to eliminate yourself. We will let other people do it.”
Even a single loss to the Colorado Avalanche, the Vancouver Canucks or the Anaheim Ducks could — officially — put the Flames in the grave.
They didn’t even bother to fight back Wednesday night as the Kings pushed them around in for the first half of the opening period, setting up shop in the Flames end.
Managing seven shots on the Flames in just the first 2:07 of action, the Kings quickly quieted the Saddledome crowd.
It wasn’t long before the Flames found themselves trailing, with the lanky Willie Mitchell slapping a long shot through a screen and between Miikka Kipruosff’s pads 5:30 into the game.
They doubled their lead when Dustin Brown took his time on a sweet setup from Anze Kopitar and ripped it under Kiprusoff 4:22 into the second frame.
Jonathan Quick was much more stingy.
The Vezina Trophy candidate had allowed two or fewer goals against in 43 of his 64 previous starts this season. Despite the Flames’ breakout performance offensively in Monday night’s 5-4 win over the Dallas Stars, there was no way they were stopping Quick from making it 44 of 65.
“It wasn’t the start — it was the whole game,” said Flames head coach Brent Sutter. “We just lost a lot of battles here.”
Ultimately, the one for the playoffs is the one that hurts the most.
“It’s tough,” said Flames winger Lee Stempniak. “It’s, obviously, frustrating and disappointing to have a huge blow to our chances like this. But you’ve just got to live to fight another day and take it from there.
“You’ve got to cling to any glimmer of hope right now. We can go out and play well the rest of the way and try and pick up as many points as we can and, hopefully, get some help from other teams.”
They got a little later Wednesday night as the Vancouver Canucks beat the Colorado Avalanche and the San Jose Sharks fell to the Anaheim Ducks. But they’ll need a lot more than that with the Kings and the Sharks sitting three points ahead of the Flames, each with a game in hand.
“Obviously, you’ve got to run the table,” Sutter said. “And you’re gonna need some help.”
Actually, they need something more like Divine intervention.
But Michael Cammalleri isn’t dismissing that, either.
“You’ve seen miracles happen,” added the Flames centre. “Until it’s (done), you keep going. That’s all you can do.
“You never concede.”
On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane