The Vancouver Canucks, seen here in January, can pour some ice on Calgary's playoff hopes Saturday night, by finishing off an excellent road trip with one more victory. ((Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press) )

At last Saturday's check-in with the Vancouver Canucks, they were coming off a bumpy stretch and heading out on a five-game road trip, wondering if they could stay well in front of the Northwest Division pod.

Seven days later, all is well with the Orcas, who sailed swiftly through L.A., Anaheim, Phoenix and San Jose, and finish up the tour with Saturday night's game in Calgary (CBC Sports,, 10 p.m. ET).

All of the above sets up the real story at the Saddledome, which is how the Flames are going to hang onto the playoff spot they've worked so hard to catch up on.

Calgary has won 18 times since taking off in mid-January, but that's still been only enough to get the team into an eighth-place log jam with three other teams, on 81 points and 12 games left.

The Flames' two closest challengers, two-points back Anaheim and three-off Nashville, both have a pair of contests in hand. So it was hardly helpful when Calgary went into Phoenix on Thursday and lost 3-0.

"We have to move past this one, and get ready for Vancouver," said coach Brett Sutter. "Right now, every game is a challenge because so many teams are battling for playoff spots."

That's business as usual for the always tight Western Conference, of course. As for Saturday itself, Sutter was succinct.

"We're down to 12 games left," he told the Calgary Sun. "They are all such big ones. We're still on pace where we want to be, as far as our goals [scored]. Saturday is a big game for us."

Cliché, yes. But underplayed, certainly not.

After this one, the Flames will have 11 games left, five at home. But the sked includes a rawhide-tough stretch of five out of six on the road, including stops in Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, Edmonton, St. Louis and Colorado.

If Calgary makes the playoffs, the club will certainly deserve it.

The Flames have won three straight in their own building, but the club doesn't like playing Vancouver much, going 2-6 in the last eight and scoring just under two goals a game.

Add in goaltender Roberto Luongo's 1.84 goals in the last eight starts against Calgary and you can declare this something of a daunting prospect.

Vancouver, despite being a few wins away from clinching third-straight division crown, still doesn't have as much on the line as their opponents in this one, especially with Detroit dropping nine back for conference best, and Philadelphia seven off for NHL overall lead.

Expect Luongo vs. Miikka Kiprusoff in goal on Saturday.