After briefly regaining 3rd place in the Western Conference with a 2-1 win in Dallas, the Calgary Flames find themselves back in 5th place after being shutout 4-0 in Minnesota last night.
Due to ‘cap space issues’ the flames iced a roster of 16 players, minus some big names. Adrian Aucoin was out of the lineup, replaced by the much-cheaper, yet still effective, Adam Pardy. Cory Sarich and Robyn Regehr, who both have undisclosed, lower-body injuries, missed the game and were replaced by Matt Pelech and John Negrin who were called up from Quad Cities and Kootenay, respectively.
During the game, the broadcasters at Sportsnet West dubbed Calgary’s defencemen the “Baby Blueliners” noting that their average age was 24. Were it not for Jim Vandermeer’s 29 years and Jordan Leopold’s 28, that total would have been much lower.
But it wasn’t really the baby blueliners that were the problem for the Flames in Minnesota. It was a lack of flow in their game and no continuity in puck movement.
Apart from the fact that Calgary could not muster a single goal in the game, they had a hard time getting past the clogged centre ice area. Their passes were not as crisp as they should be and the puck bounced around on them too much. The fact that they couldn’t beat Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom kept the Flames from gaining any momentum in the game.
Calgary now finds themselves back in the bottom half of the playoff roster after having secured a playoff berth with their win in Dallas. Chicago will be heading to the post-season for the first time in 7 years also, after beating Nashville last night.
That leaves 3 spots open in the West. Columbus needs only 2 wins to secure their first-ever playoff spot, and are pretty much a shoo-in to be there. The last 2 spots will be filled by two of the following teams: Anaheim (86 pts), Nashville (85 pts), St. Louis (84 pts) or Minnesota (83 pts). Each of the last 4 teams could find themselves in the playoffs by putting together a win streak to finish the year.