Can the Flames’ playoff chances survive seven-game road trip?

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All season long, the Calgary Flames have defied the odds. Yet here they are today, with just 23 games left on their schedule, and the playoffs remain a very real possibility.

For the NHL’s surprise team of 2014-15, a seven-game road trip, starting tonight in Madison Square Garden, has a distinct make-or-break feel to it.

“I told them [Monday] morning, the same thing I did a month and a half ago,” coach Bob Hartley said, per the Globe and Mail. “If Gary Bettman, at Day 1 of camp, had stepped into our locker room and said, ‘I have a deal for you. I’m taking you on a seven-game road trip; you’re starting your season now, but I’m putting you in the eight-spot, jam-packed in a major club sandwich in the Western Conference, are you taking it?’

“We’d be in.”

After tonight’s game, the Flames play the Devils tomorrow and the Islanders Friday, with four more stops in Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, and Ottawa.

It won’t be easy, obviously.

“It seems like if you win, you don’t move in the standings, and if you lose, you drop, so we’ve got to keep winning and we understand that,” d-man Kris Russell said.

But if there’s one team in the playoff race that can adopt a nothing-too-lose attitude, while the rest of the bubble squards are forced to shoulder the weight of expectations, it’s got to be the Flames.