Just how low could the Flames finish this season?

Ryan Pike
March 02 2016 01:00PM

The Calgary Flames lost yesterday to the Boston Bruins. The loss began the final quarter of the Flames' 2015-16 schedule. It also made two things abundantly clear: this team is not making the playoffs this season, nor do they deserve to.

But they may also enter territory that usually belongs to their northern neighbours.

The Flames may get a lottery pick this season.

THE TIEBREAKERS

Straight from the NHL's (awful) website:

1) If two or more clubs are tied in points during the regular season, the standing of the clubs is determined in the following order: The fewer number of games played (i.e., superior points percentage).

2) The greater number of games won, excluding games won in the Shootout. This figure is reflected in the ROW column. The greater number of points earned in games between the tied clubs. If two clubs are tied, and have not played an equal number of home games against each other, points earned in the first game played in the city that had the extra game shall not be included. If more than two clubs are tied, the higher percentage of available points earned in games among those clubs, and not including any ""odd"" games, shall be used to determine the standing.

3) The greater differential between goals for and against for the entire regular season. NOTE: In standings a victory in a shootout counts as one goal for, while a shootout loss counts as one goal against.

THE PLAYOFF PACK

Here's how Calgary stacks up to the nine teams with a realistic playoff chance (sorry Vancouver).

(GP=games played, ROW=regulation and overtime wins)


GP
Pts
ROW
Max
Pts
Max
ROW
Season Series (Remaining)
Chicago
64
83
38
119
56
1-1-0 (Mar. 26, home)
Dallas
65
83
36
117
53
2-1-0
St. Louis
66
83
33
115
49
0-2-0 (Mar. 14, home)
Los Angeles
62
78
35
118
55
0-2-0 (Mar. 31, road & Apr. 5, home)
Anaheim
61
76
32
118
53
0-4-0 (Mar. 30, road)
Nashville
64
75
29
111
47
1-1-0 (Mar. 9, home)
San Jose
62
74
31
114
51
2-2-0 (Mar. 7, home)
Minnesota
64
68
29
104
47
0-1-0 (Mar. 24, road & Apr. 9, road)
Colorado
65
68
29
102
46
1-1-0 (Mar. 18, home)
FLAMES
63
56
24
94
43
---

So here's the gist: once a team has more actual points than Calgary has possible points (and more ROW than the Flames have Max ROW), the Flames cannot catch them. Once there are more teams that they can't catch than playoff spots, the Flames are mathematically eliminated.

In five more Chicago/Dallas/St. Louis wins and/or Flames losses, they're gonna start running out of mathematical chances. And they already don't have many chances to begin with. The Flames have games against basically everybody above them, so they could be put out of their misery rather rapidly.

THE BASEMENT PACK

On the bright side, they may be in good shape for finishing really, really low in the standings.


GP
Pts
ROW
Max
Pts
Max
ROW
Season Series (Remaining)
Toronto
61
52
16
94
37
1-0-0 (Mar. 21, road)
Edmonton
65
55
20
89
37
2-1-1 (Apr. 2, road)
FLAMES
63
56
24
94
43
---
Winnipeg
62
56
24
96
44
1-1-0 (Mar. 16, home)
Buffalo
64
58
24
94
42
1-0-0 (Mar. 3, road)
Columbus
64
60
21
96
39
1-1-0
Arizona
63
60
26
98
45
0-2-1 (Mar. 11, home & Mar. 28, road)
Vancouver
62
60
20
100
40
3-1-0 (Apr. 7, home)

Take the tie-breakers and reverse them: teams want fewer ROW, fewer points, and to lose the season series against the other teams.

As you can see, there's a log-jam at the bottom, and Calgary's nine losses in their last 10 games has seen them slide right into the thick of things. They play games against the other bottom-dwelling teams - except Columbus - and their biggest games begin on Thursday when they play Buffalo. Their remaining games against Toronto, Edmonton and Winnipeg also have massive draft lottery implications.

HOW ARE THEIR CHANCES?

Let's compare Calgary to the other basement teams in a few key metrics:

  • Score-Adjusted Corsi? 47.2%, tied with Vancouver; Arizona and Buffalo are worse.
  • Power Play? 15.9%, second-worst in the NHL (Toronto is the worst).
  • Penalty Killing? 72.8%, worst in the NHL.
  • Even-Strength Save Percentage? 91.2%, worst in the NHL (and their good goalie, Karri Ramo, is out for the season).

The Flames are among the worst in the NHL in most of these areas - puck possession, special teams and stopping pucks - and there's no team that's equally bad across the board. Between their glut of games remaining against good teams and their glut of games remaining against bad teams, the Flames are masters of their own destiny here.

If they can keep playing close games and figuring out ways to lose - via bad penalty-killing or just starting Niklas Backstrom a ton down the stretch - they may finish lower than they ever have before and get some much-needed help for their young forward core.

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Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames since 2010. He's Senior Contributing Editor at FlamesNation, a Senior Writer covering the Flames and the NHL Draft for The Hockey Writers, and a correspondent for the Fischler Report. He's just trying to capture the spirit of the thing.
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#1 brodiegio4life
March 02 2016, 01:08PM
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I'm just hoping for at least a top 5 pick. The flames desperately need high end forwards and the top of this years draft is full of them. Matthews, puljujarvi, laine, tkachuk, or nylander would be so very nice

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#2 Backburner
March 02 2016, 01:30PM
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brodiegio4life wrote:

I'm just hoping for at least a top 5 pick. The flames desperately need high end forwards and the top of this years draft is full of them. Matthews, puljujarvi, laine, tkachuk, or nylander would be so very nice

I know the Flames could really use any of those high end forwards.. but I think they will take a serious look at Jakob Chychrun if they are picking in the top 5. That guys is a beast. A Franchise Defenseman.

This will probably be Calgary's best chance to win the draft lottery in franchise history.. obviously Matthews would be amazing.. but I'm really excited about the quality of players available in the top 5 this year.

This draft should really give the Flames that complimentary piece to accelerate the rebuild.

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#3 FlamesRock
March 02 2016, 01:44PM
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Backburner wrote:

I know the Flames could really use any of those high end forwards.. but I think they will take a serious look at Jakob Chychrun if they are picking in the top 5. That guys is a beast. A Franchise Defenseman.

This will probably be Calgary's best chance to win the draft lottery in franchise history.. obviously Matthews would be amazing.. but I'm really excited about the quality of players available in the top 5 this year.

This draft should really give the Flames that complimentary piece to accelerate the rebuild.

We already have a franchise defensemen. ie. TJ brodie and depending on a persons opinion Hamiliton. We need wingers or Matthews if we select first, not more defencemen!

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#4 #97Train
March 02 2016, 01:49PM
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FlamesRock wrote:

We already have a franchise defensemen. ie. TJ brodie and depending on a persons opinion Hamiliton. We need wingers or Matthews if we select first, not more defencemen!

I would say a big forward is the most pressing need, so if you don't get Mathews then one of the big Finns would be ideal.

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#5 CutterMcAwesome
March 02 2016, 01:52PM
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Wherever they end up. Pick the Best Player Available regardless of position.

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#6 MattyFranchise
March 02 2016, 01:59PM
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Well after last night's game this is the first time all season that the Flames have finished a 7 game segment with only 1 win and three points total.

So... right on track.

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#7 MattyFranchise
March 02 2016, 02:00PM
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CutterMcAwesome wrote:

Wherever they end up. Pick the Best Player Available regardless of position.

Disagree. Pick a center before picking a winger unless that winger has HUGE upside in comparison to the center.

Otherwise, yeah, BPA.

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#8 VK63
March 02 2016, 02:05PM
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Its a two for one deal. If they continue to lose they will get a better draft pick and Hartley will get chopped.

Win win as it were.

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#9 Backburner
March 02 2016, 02:12PM
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FlamesRock wrote:

We already have a franchise defensemen. ie. TJ brodie and depending on a persons opinion Hamiliton. We need wingers or Matthews if we select first, not more defencemen!

Teams can always use defenseman.. my point is that he will probably be in the conversation if they are picking top 5.

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#10 supra steve
March 02 2016, 02:13PM
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#97Train wrote:

I would say a big forward is the most pressing need, so if you don't get Mathews then one of the big Finns would be ideal.

Agreed. By the way...when did you stop behaving like a major D-bag? As long as you have thoughtful and relevant opinions, like you have had lately, you're welcome here. The odd Oiler/Flame rivalry comment is still expected, because you are an Oiler fan.

But man, what would that do for the rivalry if the Flames scored another major talent at forward, and the Oil finally land a stud D-man?

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#11 Baalzamon
March 02 2016, 02:16PM
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@Backburner

I would agree. If the Flames are picking, say, fourth, I think it pretty much has to be Chychrun.

I'd take either Chychrun or Nylander over Tkachuk, anyway.

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#12 Denscafon
March 02 2016, 02:41PM
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I would love to draft one the fins as a big skilled RW is exactly what the flames are missing on the top line. If we win the draft though we have to pick Matthews but then there's an even bigger log jam at center and either Bennett plays wing or backlund is probably traded which to me would suck but would be necessary. It also doesnt solve who would play beside matthews/monahan/Bennett. But ya hoping for a top 3 pick, top 5 wouldn't be bad either though.

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#13 Truculence
March 02 2016, 03:24PM
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I don't know why Pierre-Luc Dubois doesn't get as much attention as some of the other forwards. Despite being one of the youngest players in this upcoming draft, he is fourth in QJMHL scoring and is already 6"3 200. He absolutely dominated the prospects game, and can play the game any which way you want. He is one of the smartest hockey players I have ever seen and has a never-say-die attitude to go along with an elite-shot.

If the big finns are gone, Calgary should look at this kid, as he has the same upside.

Oh, and he has been playing center all year in the Q.

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#14 Baalzamon
March 02 2016, 03:31PM
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@Truculence

I don't know why Pierre-Luc Dubois doesn't get as much attention as some of the other forwards. Despite being one of the youngest players in this upcoming draft, he is fourth in QJMHL scoring and is already 6"3 200.

That's probably why. He's almost certainly not going to get any bigger than he is now, so will he be able to translate his game to higher levels when he isn't the biggest kid on the playground?

That said, I'm tempted to say I'd prefer him to Tkachuk. At least he's actually leading his team in scoring.

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#15 nikkomsgb
March 02 2016, 03:35PM
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They will always pick the best player available. Burke mentioned on the Fan 960 a year or two ago, before the draft, that picking by position is a "fire-able offense". So Treliving isn't going to deviate from that.

That said I suppose it makes sense. Take the best player available then you presumably have the most coveted asset.

Fingers crossed the luck is with us this time.

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#16 Truculence
March 02 2016, 03:43PM
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Baalzamon wrote:
I don't know why Pierre-Luc Dubois doesn't get as much attention as some of the other forwards. Despite being one of the youngest players in this upcoming draft, he is fourth in QJMHL scoring and is already 6"3 200.

That's probably why. He's almost certainly not going to get any bigger than he is now, so will he be able to translate his game to higher levels when he isn't the biggest kid on the playground?

That said, I'm tempted to say I'd prefer him to Tkachuk. At least he's actually leading his team in scoring.

But, by the same token, are the Finns any better playing against mediocre hockey players -albeit men?

Plus, he probably will actually get bigger since he doesn't turn 18 till late June. His point totals given his age are very, very impressive.

Also, Dubois is a typical power forward in that he drives to the net with abandon and uses his size effectively. But his game is much more complex than that. He can thread passes with the best of them, and plays a 200 foot game. He is not a one-dimensional player that relies solely on size.

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#17 Tomas Oppolzer
March 02 2016, 03:56PM
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Truculence wrote:

But, by the same token, are the Finns any better playing against mediocre hockey players -albeit men?

Plus, he probably will actually get bigger since he doesn't turn 18 till late June. His point totals given his age are very, very impressive.

Also, Dubois is a typical power forward in that he drives to the net with abandon and uses his size effectively. But his game is much more complex than that. He can thread passes with the best of them, and plays a 200 foot game. He is not a one-dimensional player that relies solely on size.

Yes, they will. The size argument is valid for Dubois because he's playing against significantly smaller competition. Because of that, he's able to impose his will more easily. The Finns, however, are playing against men. Their size isn't an advantage in that league like it is in the CHL.

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#18 Kevin R
March 02 2016, 03:58PM
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I am just hoping we the get the highest pick this year in Franchise history. I don't mind Hartley starting as coach next year but he will be on a short leash that's for sure. That Murray kid looked decent against Washington in net last night.

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#19 Truculence
March 02 2016, 04:09PM
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Tomas Oppolzer wrote:

Yes, they will. The size argument is valid for Dubois because he's playing against significantly smaller competition. Because of that, he's able to impose his will more easily. The Finns, however, are playing against men. Their size isn't an advantage in that league like it is in the CHL.

O.K., I don't want to make this into a thread based on the merits of drafting Dubois, but how do we know Laine is not riding the coattails of his line-mates -you know, other men. There are 8 players on that team with 30+ points (Laine has 33 points), with the leading scorer having 54.

Dubois, in contrast, is leading his teammates (who are just teenagers like him, but older)in points by a country mile.

Also, the Finnish league, with it's big ice surfaces, does not actually engender a very physical brand of hockey at all that is comparable to the NHL or AHL. Being physically stronger and bigger, in other words, does not have the same advantages as it does in the latter leagues.

Plus, I've watched Dubois' games a few times this year, and he is just as adept at making fine passing plays and sniping shots as he is at working the boards and barreling to the net. You guys seem to be pigeon-holing him into a particular role without it seems haveing actually watched how he accumulates his points. He has a very high hockey-IQ.

Finally, I remember commentators on this site going through the same debate of whether Euro leagues or the CHL are a better indicator of elite talent a couple of years ago with regards to Monahan and Lindholm.

I think Carolina must be kicking themselves for having chosen the latter, as his scoring tough has yet to materialize.

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#20 Jay (not J)
March 02 2016, 04:16PM
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DFL

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#21 KiLLKiND
March 02 2016, 04:28PM
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To me anyone in the 4-7 range could be taken by any of those teams before that the top 3 are set. You can argue the merits of any of the players in that range if we pick there. Another option is trade back to 1-12 range I can see a player falling out of the top 10 again for for some reason and Calgary could pick up a fantastic player while potentially gaining a late 1st early 2nd.

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#22 Parallex
March 02 2016, 04:33PM
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nikkomsgb wrote:

They will always pick the best player available. Burke mentioned on the Fan 960 a year or two ago, before the draft, that picking by position is a "fire-able offense". So Treliving isn't going to deviate from that.

That said I suppose it makes sense. Take the best player available then you presumably have the most coveted asset.

Fingers crossed the luck is with us this time.

Sometimes it makes sense.

I mean... Yakupov was the consensus BPA his year but I thought the Oilers should have taken Murray given how bad their org depth at D was. How much less bad would that team look now if they'd done that?

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#23 #97Train
March 02 2016, 04:37PM
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supra steve wrote:

Agreed. By the way...when did you stop behaving like a major D-bag? As long as you have thoughtful and relevant opinions, like you have had lately, you're welcome here. The odd Oiler/Flame rivalry comment is still expected, because you are an Oiler fan.

But man, what would that do for the rivalry if the Flames scored another major talent at forward, and the Oil finally land a stud D-man?

That is exactly what both teams need.

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#24 BlueMoonNigel
March 02 2016, 04:38PM
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Hope Tzachuk didn't inherit the old man's indifferent work habits. The old man could be an absolute beast in a shift but in the next shift, he looked like the last place he wanted to be was on the ice. Never a fan of a guy with a great skill set but not the gumption to use it to the maximum.

Other than the ability to thread pucks through the eye of a needle form 90 feet, there isn't much of Michael Nylander's game that I hope his kid picked up. Wonder how the old man would fare in today's NHL?

The Finns have the size to play the physical game, but do they have the spirit? The ice is a whole lot smaller and the players a whole lot bigger and tougher in the NHL.

Let's say the Flames win out and get 1st pick and the Coyotes offer them the Gold Dust twins for this year's "generational talent." Do the Flames bite?

I suppose any of the 5 will be a solid pick now, but in 5 years hence, how many of the Fab 5 will still be fab?

I wonder if there is a dark horse out there who is going to blow the doors off the barn in perhaps the CHL playoffs and stride into the top 5?

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#25 everton fc
March 02 2016, 05:49PM
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Two out of the "Q" that wouldn't be bad here;

Julien Gauthier of Val d'Or and Pierre-Luc Debois with Cape Breton. Both can score. Both are taller than 6'2", both weigh more than 200 lbs. After Round 1 Max Jones out of London would be an interesting pick.

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#26 brodiegio4life
March 02 2016, 05:50PM
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MattyFranchise wrote:

Disagree. Pick a center before picking a winger unless that winger has HUGE upside in comparison to the center.

Otherwise, yeah, BPA.

what? that is literally their last need behind wingers, goalies and dmen... why on earth would they skip over a winger/dman to take a centre...

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#27 hulkingloooooob
March 02 2016, 07:00PM
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Whoa Ryan, you just said "their good goalie, Karri Ramo". He's only good once he's injured? haha. typical.

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#28 King Quong
March 03 2016, 02:51AM
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brodiegio4life wrote:

what? that is literally their last need behind wingers, goalies and dmen... why on earth would they skip over a winger/dman to take a centre...

Probably because Centres can be converted and typically have more value than Wingers. I'd argue only a top 2 dman would have more value than a top center. Also you can usually convert a centre to the wing if you've got a log jam down the middle. Iginla was drafted as a centre actually.

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#29 freethe flames
March 03 2016, 07:43AM
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BPA except a goalie in the first 2 rounds. However lets remember who we think is the BPA is not always the same thing s their draft team thinks. What would be nice is if the BPA happens to fall into their needs. And to be quite frank this organization needs everything. We have come a long ways in building the organizations since the decision was made but it's not like we are gushing with NHL ready players at any position; if we were guys like Engalnd would not be playing in the top 4 and guys like Bollig would not even be on the team. We do have some prospects that we are quite high on at D Anderson and Hickey are in my mind the top 2 but Kulak and TSpoon are the most ready and I am not quite sure what to make of Kylington. I often hear people speak of abundance of centers and think really? We have Monahan and Bennett as a 1/2, Backs as a 3, and Stajan as an aging 4. Are any of the AHL guys really ready; would anyone beat their jobs on it. None are high end. We may think Arnold and Grant are ready but are they?

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#30 Jeff In Lethbridge
March 03 2016, 08:16AM
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My bold predictions on how it will play out at the draft:

1) Flames finish 27th, but win the lottery, pick first overall.

2) Flames trade first overall for 2nd overall pick and in so doing pick up 2 mid to late first round picks and a solid blue-chip prospect.

3) Flames flip the two acquired mid to late first round picks and a 2nd rounder, plus 2 significant prospects (i.e. Porier or Jon Gillies, and the prospect acquired for the 1st) for the 3rd overall pick.

4) having the 2nd and 3rd picks, the flames pick up two Finns...

Bonus prediction:

2017-2018, Flames win the division, lose in conference final, and then win it all the following year.

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#31 everton fc
March 03 2016, 08:59AM
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freethe flames wrote:

BPA except a goalie in the first 2 rounds. However lets remember who we think is the BPA is not always the same thing s their draft team thinks. What would be nice is if the BPA happens to fall into their needs. And to be quite frank this organization needs everything. We have come a long ways in building the organizations since the decision was made but it's not like we are gushing with NHL ready players at any position; if we were guys like Engalnd would not be playing in the top 4 and guys like Bollig would not even be on the team. We do have some prospects that we are quite high on at D Anderson and Hickey are in my mind the top 2 but Kulak and TSpoon are the most ready and I am not quite sure what to make of Kylington. I often hear people speak of abundance of centers and think really? We have Monahan and Bennett as a 1/2, Backs as a 3, and Stajan as an aging 4. Are any of the AHL guys really ready; would anyone beat their jobs on it. None are high end. We may think Arnold and Grant are ready but are they?

Bouma can play centre. Colborne can play centre. Jooris can play centre.

Hamilton appears to be more "ready" than Arnold. Elson may be more "ready" than Arnold, and they are basically the same size, with Elson showing more offensive promise. So we do have a bit of depth in the pivot, but the top 3, Monahan, Bennett and Backlund, need to be our three down the middle for some time. I think we have three of the best young centres in the game, with these three.

I personally hope Elson earns a call-up. I like his game.

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