The Calgary Flames spent the last two days in Nashville without playing a game. Coach Bob Hartley advised his players to take advantage of the break and use it wisely.
It’s the last time the Flames get two days between games this regular-season. Hartley’s squad finishes the campaign with 21 games in 37 games starting Thursday night facing the Predators, who have lost four straight.
Never in their Calgary history have the Flames played this many games without getting at least one two-day respite.
The closest was a 15-game stretch over 26 days from Nov. 20 to Dec. 15 in 2001. That heavy run of games produced a 3-8-4 record.
Hartley told the media Wednesday, “I figure we need to get 27 points over our last 21 games to make the playoffs. I like my team and feel it’s capable of doing great things. We need to start playing with urgency.”
What the coach needs is a 21-game finish similar to the 2003-04 season. That concluding schedule is close to what the team will face now.
In that campaign nine years ago, the Flames ended the regular-season playing 21 games in 40 days. Coached then by Darryl Sutter the Flames produced a 12-7-2 record to finish 6th in the Western Conference. Then had a magical playoff run winning the West title and taking Tampa Bay Lightning to a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup final before bowing 2-1.
The Flames of ’04 started the busy concluding slate one point out of a playoff spot. They start this one six points behind eighth place San Jose, however, the Flames have at least two games in hand on the teams they are in the scramble with for the final playoff spots and three games on some of them.
Clearly, they need to start a winning streak longer than any they’ve had this season.
Only two players remain from the ’04 squad. Captain Jarome Iginla and goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff have both been subjected to trade rumours of late, but both have stated getting to the playoffs with the Flames is the aim.