With the Blackhawks and Ducks both winning last night, the Flames already tenuous playoff chances have been pushed to the brink. The Ducks are currently four points up on Calgary with one game in hand while the Hawks are three points up with two games in hand. To make matters more complicated, the Dallas Stars are just a point behind Calgary, but have played three less games so far.
Here’s a look at the Flames three main 8th place competitors and what their stretch drive schedules look like.
March 30 – Calgary Flames
April 2 – San Jose Sharks
April 3 – Dallas Stars
April 6 – San Jose Sharks
April 8 – Los Angeles Kings
April 9 – Los Angeles Kings
Record to get to 97 points = 2-3-1 or 3-3-0
The Ducks don’t have the kindest schedule with two back-to-backs and four games against playoff clubs in San Jose and Los Angeles, although the bite has been taken out of the Kings a bit with the recent Anze Kopitar injury. Obviously the Flames can do themselves all sorts of favors by beating Anaheim tomorrow. On the other hand, a loss to the Ducks puts the final nail in the coffin.
March 29 – Boston Bruins
April 1 – Columbus Blue Jackets
April 3 – Tampa Bay Lightning
April 5 – Montreal Canadiens
April 6 – St. Louis Blues
April 8 – Detroit Red Wings
April 10 – Detroit Red Wings
Record to get to 97 points = or 2-1-3 or 3-3-1
The Blackhawks last seven games are book-ended by some division leaders, but the middle portion isn’t all that frightening, even with the one back-to-back versus Montreal and St. Louis. Chicago recently saw Patrick Sharp go down to injury which was certainly a blow to their top-six depth. Unfortunately, the Red Wings also recently lost Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard themselves which lessens their chances of taking the final two games.
March 29 – Phoenix Coyotes
March 31 – San Jose Sharks
April 2 – Los Angeles Kings
April 3 – Anaheim Ducks
April 5 – Columbus Blue Jackets
April 7 – Colorado Avalanche
April 8 – Colorado Avalanche
April 10 – Minnesota Wild
Record to get to 97 points = 4-1-3 or 5-2-1
The Stars have the easiest final four contests of the season, particularly since COL and MIN as close to sure wins as exists in the WC outside of Edmonton. If they take those three, the Stars will still have to manage at least two more wins or three more ties in their other four contests to get to 97.
Finally, here’s how the Flames schedule rounds out
March 30 – Anaheim Ducks
April 1 – St. Louis Blues
April 3 – Colorado Avalanche
April 6 – Edmonton Oilers
April 9 – Vancouver Canucks
Record to get to 97 points = 5-0-0
The Flames final five aren’t too bad outside of the Ducks and Canucks. The problem is, Calgary has to win out and they need all three of the aforementioned clubs to fall short of 97 points because the Flames inevtiably lose the tie-breaker.
I’m not going to lie, it’s a fairly terrible position to be in. Five game winning streaks are hard enough to come by in an NHL season for a middling club. Betting on that and for each of Dallas, Chicago and Anaheim to be under .500 down the stretch is praying for miracle.
That said, it’s not over till it’s over.