Flames eye top spot in West, home-ice advantage
The superlatives keep coming for the Calgary Flames, but they're gunning for more.
As the Flames prepare to play host to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night, they're atop the Western Conference and Pacific Division with a six-point edge on the second-place San Jose Sharks, but that's just the beginning.
Calgary (47-21-7) has surpassed the 100-point mark for the first time since 2005-06 and just the fifth time in franchise history and have posted the highest win total since the Stanley Cup-winning 1988-89 campaign.
"I think it's an unbelievable accomplishment for our team and the organization," goaltender Mike Smith told Postmedia. "This team has come a long ways from the start of the season. The 100-point mark means you're doing a lot of good things in games, so it's good to see."
A 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday has Calgary riding a three-game winning streak and victorious in six of seven outings. However, a big goal is still in their sites before starting the playoff season: top spot in the West and home-ice advantage.
"We have to keep pushing," said captain Mark Giordano, who became just the third defenseman age 35 or older to record 70 points in a season, joining Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Zubov. "We're going to have to get a lot more than 101 (points) to win the division, we think. But I think we've put ourselves in a good spot. We just have to keep playing well into playoffs."
The Flames, who have seven games remaining in the regular season, have a golden chance to add to that total when the Kings come to town. The Kings (27-39-8) are last in the Western Conference and playing out the string in what's been a disappointing season, although they are coming off a 4-3 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night -- the 1,700th regular-season win in franchise history -- and have won two straight.
"For us to come out and compete, that's what we want to do," Kings captain Anze Kopitar told the Los Angeles Times after the Anaheim win. "I've said it before. There's guys playing for jobs, guys that want to prove themselves as good players in this league. So, there's a lot at stake."
The Kings have the fewest road wins among Western Conference clubs (12) and beating the Flames will undoubtedly be a tall order.
Calgary has won both meetings so far this year, both being in November, and the Flames are truly riding high. A year ago, they were the ones playing out the string. Instead, they're in rarified air for the franchise, chasing their first division title in 13 years. They're also the first team since the 2000-01 Pittsburgh Penguins to boast five different players with 70 or more points.
"This is my sixth year here and going season after season, not proving anything, not doing anything, it takes a toll on you," top-line center Sean Monahan told the team's website. "With the guys that (general manager Brad Treliving) brought in and the group that we have, we have to get the job done and we've got to do something. That's our mindset."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 24, 2019