March 11 2011 01:05PM
It's been a wild ride since the Flames bottomed-out in late December. Against long-odds, the club has ridden some bounces and strong play back into the post-season picture in the Western Conference. With just 12 games left on the schedule, the stretch drive looms on the horizon. Here's a look at what the Flames will need to do to complete their resurrection.
The Calgary Flames are currently sixth in the official standings with 81 points in 70 games played. Matt Fenwick has them one game up on the playoff march in his Baseball style standings, while Quisp has the Flames on the cusp in 8th in his "real" standings. In short, despite Calgary's incredible run since January, the team is still teetering on the edge.
No Western Conference playoff contender has played as many games as Calgary, nor have they won as many games in the shoot-out as the Flames. In fact, Calgary has the least amount of regulation/OT wins amongst the top nine hopefuls in the WC. What that means is the club is a good bet to lose the tie-breaker at the end of the year should they end up on even footing points-wise with any one else in the West. As such, Calgary must be the clear victor when the dust settles after game-82.
It's a fairly tenuous position. Projecting final standings can be tricky, but here's a look at how the WC will shake out should all the teams hold to their demonstrated points % through the rest of the year:
Flames slide into 8th alone with 95 points, which is about the cut-off we've been assuming all year. A 57.8% point ratio through the final 12 games relates to a record of about 6-4-2 or 7-5-0. Calgary can likely ensure themselves a place in the dance with seven wins or more in their final 12 games.
Here's how the sched. looks from here on out:
VAN - L
PHX - W
COL - W
ANA - L
LOS - W
SJS - L
EDM - W
ANA - W
STL - W
COL - W
EDM - W
VAN - L
I've penciled in some "reasonable expectations" given the quality of the opponents. If the Flames can sweep the weaker sisters, beat LA and split with Anaheim, they're in like Flint without having to worry about beating San Jose or Vancouver. They might have room to lose one to the Blues, Oilers or Avalanches of the world, but will then definitely want to avoid giving up points to, say, Anaheim as much as possible.
Of course, we all know what "reasonable expectations" are worth in the pressure cooker that is the Western Conference, so take this with a pinch of salt. Considering how this season has played out thus far, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Calgary's post-season berth came down to that, final crucial game versus the Canucks.