The 2017 Playoff Chase: a jam-packed race

Ryan Pike
February 03 2017 10:00AM

Welcome to the fourth week of our Western Conference playoff race coverage. The Calgary Flames haven't played a ton of hockey since our last update, but the jostling around by other Western clubs has made things simultaneously more confusing and a bit clearer.

Let's check out the race.

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Going coastal: How are the Flames using the ECHL?

Ryan Pike
February 03 2017 08:00AM

Once upon a time, there were two strong professional hockey leagues in North America. The National Hockey League is obviously the creme de la creme, but the American Hockey League has long established itself as a pretty tough league to ply your trade in. Over the years, the Calgary Flames have utilized their various AHL affiliates as their primary mode of development – either that or sending players back to junior when appropriate to give them experience.

But this season, it seems like the Flames are finally starting to rely on their ECHL farm club as a developmental tool rather than as a dumping ground for unwanted players.

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The Roundup

Nation World HQ
February 03 2017 05:00AM

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5 things to know about Patrik Laine, lots of guys on the block in Detroit, some teams don't want the Leafs to be patient, Flames prospect update is ugly, McDavid clearly breaks NHL fastest skater record, Canucks still hurting from poor drafting, a crazy junior scrap, NHL power rankings, an All-star rundown and more in this week's Nation Roundup brought to you by Violent Gentlemen.

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Looking at the Flames' cap for 2017-18

Ryan Pike
February 02 2017 12:00PM

Here's what we're reasonably sure of right now: the salary cap probably isn't budging next season. That means the Calgary Flames will have $73 million to spend on their roster for the 2017-18 season.

But, as always, there are some holes and some complications moving forward.

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Did the Flames make their best goaltending bet?

Ari Yanover
February 02 2017 10:00AM

So the Flames' goaltending has not been totally ideal this season. It currently sits at a .900 save percentage, tied for 24th in the NHL. (Not last!)

It wasn't ideal last season, either, and that was with a completely different cast. Then, however, it was .892, very much the worst in the league - and the only team below .900.

When's the last time the Flames had what could be considered ideal goaltending? Uh... 2014-15, probably, when every percentage went the Flames' way, and their .911 collective save percentage was tied for 15th in the league.

Except in 2014-15 and 2015-16, the Flames had the same goalies for the most part, give or take a stray Joni Ortio. Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo held down the fort one year - not masterfully, but well enough to give the rest of their team a chance night in and night out - and then had the fort cave in the very next season.

But both their contracts were up, and with a new cast, it should have been saved. And for some reason, it hasn't been.

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