Saturday, March 20, 2010

It's Not Easy Being on the Playoff Bubble

Have you noticed in the past few seasons that the race for the playoffs has been getting tighter and tighter? Friday night (March 19) was a good example.

Calgary faced off against San Jose, which pretty much has a lock on the playoffs, although the Flames handed the team its fifth consecutive loss. It won't take the Sharks out of the playoffs, but it doesn't do much for morale coming into the final stretch, unless things turn around.

Going into Friday's NHL games, there were seven points separating the Western Conference's ninth place team (Calgary) from the fifth place team (Colorado). Sixth and seventh were Los Angeles and Nashville. The Wings -- one point ahead of the Flames in the eight spot -- played the lowly Oilers, a team that could only act as spoilers (no rhyme intended) sitting dead last in the league's overall standings.

The Flames took care of business at their end. Many of the players were watching with interest at the score in Edmonton. The Oilers were up 2-1 at this point, and Mark Giordano uttered what would be some profound words.

"No lead is safe in this league. You see it every night. Definitely cheering for the Oilers."

The Oilers led the Wings through much of the game. Until two seconds remaining and Brian Rafalski tied the game, sucking the wind out of Rexall Place and Devan Dubnyk's first win of the season. That meant overtime and a point for Detroit. So much for Calgary sneaking ahead into that eighth spot.

At this time, Flames coach Brent Sutter came into the media lounge to address the reporters.

"You can't control anything outside of what we've got to do. There's no point in getting upset about it. We just have to worry about ourselves."

The Oilers won in a shootout, Devan Dubnyk received is first W, and going into Hockey Night Saturday, not much had changed in the Conference.

The standings will yo yo a bit until it comes down to the 82nd game. And regardless of the teams each has yet to play left in the schedule, no game can be considered a lock.

It's hard not to like. It's never the same teams that get in, and when a team does get in, anything can happen. 

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