With the Flames posting back-to-back wins for the first time in recent memory last week, their chances of securing a playoff spot increased to about 35% after bottoming out at around 20% after the 4-0 loss to the Wild. The source of the link, Sports Club Stats, determines playoff probabilities by weighting a number of factors and then simulating the season 25 million times. The most recent round of simulations have the Flames making the playoffs 35% of the time.
That’s not terribly comforting. To break the hypothetical 93 point post-season barrier, the Flames will have to go 9-6-2 or better in their final 17 games (.588 WIN%). That doesn’t seem overly unrealistic…until you glance at the club’s remaining opponents:
vs. San Jose
@ NY Islanders
vs. San Jose
% against teams above Calgary in the standings: 12/17 = 71%
% against division leaders: 6/17 = 35%
% on the road: 10/17 = 59%
The only weak sisters on the docket are the Boston Bruins and NY Islanders. Minnesota and Anaheim are below the Flames in the standings, but have proven to be difficult opponents for Calgary this year. I also don’t rate Colorado highly at all, but they’ve had the Flame’s number since that faithful playoff run a couple of seasons ago helmed by Peter Budaj and Joe Sakic. The team has changed drastically since, but the Flames can’t seem to beat them for love or money anyways.
The sched is rife with clubs that are either powerhouses (Washington, Chicago, San Jose, Vancouver), owners of the Flames this season (Minny, Colorado) or both (Chicago, San Jose). In fact, Dirk Hoag of On the Forecheck determined that Calgary probably has the most difficult schedule of any "playoff hopeful" in the league down the stretch. They travel the most miles (16,000+), face the second highest average WIN% (.549) and the best average ES GF/GA ratio (1.10). Also disconcerting is the fact that the suddenly healthy Detroit Red Wings are starting to show signs of resurgence. Perhaps the only good news is that Calgary is better on the road (16-9-6) than at home (16-15-3) this season.
The Flames face a veritable murderer’s row to end the year. If they indeed make the playoffs, it will be because they earned it.