The Calgary Flames refuse to go away.
They won their second straight last night, beating the Coyotes, 4-1, in Arizona. The two points left them just one point shy of the Kings for the second wild-card spot in the West, with both teams having played 44 games.
The Flames, you’ll recall, got off to a surprisingly good start, going 17-8-2 in their first 27 games. But the skeptics — and there were many — believed their winning ways were unsustainable. And when the Flames proceeded to lose eight straight and fall to 17-15-3, no longer in a playoff spot, the skeptics were looking fairly astute.
Yet since that eight-game winless streak, the Flames have gone 6-3-0, beating teams much the same way they were beating them earlier in the season.
Which is to say, not by controlling the puck. Rather, by making the most of their limited number of shots (they haven’t registered more than 30 shots since Dec. 16) and with strong goaltending (of late by rookie Joni Ortio).
And so the skeptics remain.
Saturday in San Jose, the Flames kick off a three-game California road swing, which continues Monday in Los Angeles and ends Wednesday in Anaheim.
It will be a challenge. (Just ask the Leafs.) But it’s one captain Mark Giordano wants his teammates to embrace, not shy away from.
“We talked about this the other day: We have to be excited about this opportunity,’’ said Giordano, per the Calgary Herald. “We can’t play scared or tentative. We haven’t been in this position in a long time. So why not have that nothing-to-lose mentality. Nobody expected us to where we are, fighting for a (playoff) spot, anyway.
“This trip … these are the sort of tests where you want people to say when they’re over: ‘That guy’s a player who shows up in big games.'”