Sideways – Flames 3 Game Roadtrip is Pivotal



Believe it or not, the season is almost half way over for the Flames already. They sit tied for 12th in the West with Colorado and Edmonton, four points back of the 8th spot which is currently held by the Minnesota Wild. Sports Club Stats suggests the cut-off point will be about 55 points to make the post-season (or a record of 16-9-3) and that the Flames have about a 25% chance of making the cut.

So, as usual, it’s dog fight for 7th and 8th. The aforementioned Oilers and Avalanche are in the mix, as are Nashville (23 points), Detroit (24), Dallas (24) and Minnesota (24). The Kings, Blues and Sharks are also crowded together in the middle of the pack, but we can assume they will separate themselves from the middling clubs over time.

As has been true the last few years, the real problem for Calgary isn’t the number of points between them and the playoffs, but the number of teams. Four points back doesn’t sound like a whole lot and it would be relatively trivial if they were chasing a single incumbent, but it’s the other half dozen roughly equivalent squad’s they’d have to leapfrog that whittles down their chances. Further complicating matters is the fact that the schedule is conference exclusive, meaning every Western Conference team is gaining points against every other team each night that goes by. As a result, there’s no cheering for the Penguins or Bruins to beat a divisional or conference rival in the hopes they take the points back East with them, unfortunately.  

So it’s a steep hill to climb. In fact, the upcoming three game road trip could more or less seal the Flames fate if it goes poorly. San Jose tomorrow night and then back-to-back games against the Kings and Ducks on the weekend makes for tough sledding: the Kings and Sharks are unarguably superior squads while the Ducks have been the luckiest team in the league so far (also, they have Getzlaf, Perry, superior goaltending and the Flames will be tired).

As per Sports Club Stats, Calgary has to have a 57 winning percentage or better to have a real chance of making the dance. If this road trip ends with two or less points, Calgary will need to go at least 15-7-3 down the stretch (60%)…not impossible, but also not something to put your house on.

An improbable three game winning streak, in contrast, would put the Flames in much better position going forward. Their required "playoff record" would fall to 13-9-3 or a winning percentage of just 52%. In addition, their schedule gets a bit easier with Nashville, Dallas, Columbus (X2) and Colorado populating the rest of the month.

Obviously the stakes are high for every remaining Flames game until they are mathematically assured a spot or eliminated from contention, but this next sojourn to California could prove to be the pivotal stretch of 2013.

Other Stuff



As Cam wryly notes, the potential "big names" at the trade deadline right now are underwhelming. Should the Flames convincingly fall out of the race by then this could mean a lot of interest in pieces like Iginla or Kiprusoff for clubs looking to put themselves over the top. If that happens and with a 4th straight year out of the playoffs staring them in the face, surely Calgary’s decision makers have to at least consider putting their aging starts on the auction block?

– We have another freeroll running this week with Draftstreet. Click here to enter and build your roster for Thursday night’s games. As usual, the prize money available is up to $300. Good luck!

  • jeremywilhelm

    Why would CBJ trade JJ? He’s been great for them and is only 25.

    I increasingly worry that the Flames will refuse to change direction.

    How pathetic is a sports team that has a good chunk of it’s fans hoping they lose every game?

    • Parallex

      To be both blunt and frank I don’t think it’s the sports team that’s pathetic in that scenario.

      As for why CBJ would trade JJ… beats me. He’s signed at a decent rate in a contract that covers his prime years and is more then long enough to extend into their prospective next window. If I were they I might be inclined to shop Dubinsky & Brassard but not Johnson.

      • I totally understand your viewpoint, but 24 years, or whatever it is, begins to wear in people. Especially when the team mantra never changes. It’s one thing to try different approaches and keep failing, but it’s getting beyond stupid now. Ergo, the team’s hand being forced through an overwhelming number of losses is seen as the only hope. Don’t blame the fans for being frustrated and losing all hope. No fan should be required to cheer for their team ‘regardless.’

        • Parallex

          24 years between championships you mean? Dude, 24 years in the sports world isn’t that uncommon… I highly advise you to never go to Chicago, find some guy in a Cubs shirt and complain about a 24 year drought considering that they’re in their 105th year. Hell I was talking with my brother-in-law from Vancouver and we were razzing each other and his retort was oh you guys havn’t won the cup in how many years? To which I responded “Ya, when you guys won one again?” He had no response… good times.

          As far as “No fan should be required to cheer for their team ‘regardless.'”… I would counter that there is a huge difference between “being required to cheer for the team” and “hoping they lose every game”. As far as I’m concerned someone who hopes that a team loses games isn’t a fan (at least not of that team). You can hope for a change in direction, you can hope for certain transactions that may not make the team immediately better, but hoping for actual loses (to say nothing of loses every game)? Nope, not a fan… not a good one at any rate.

          • Avalain

            Yes, that is long time to have not won a playoff series. That being said, you are sort of picking the worst stat you can and running with it.

            I mean, before we went on this streak of just missing the playoffs, the Flames were one of only 3 teams that actually made the playoffs for 5 years in a row (ok…I’m remembering this off the top of my head so I may be slightly off).

            You want a bad team? Look at Columbus. What does it mean to be a Blue Jackets fan if they’ve only qualified for the playoffs once in their entire history and didn’t even manage to win a single game in that series? Or how about the Washington Capitals? They’ve been an excellent team the previous few years, but they still have only gotten to the Stanley Cup finals once in their entire history and that was in 1998.

            Now, I’m not saying that Calgary has been better than Washington (except maybe this year…). My point is that the Flames have had good results in the past even if they run into some bad luck in the post season. People seem to forget that in a 30 team league it would take 30 years on AVERAGE to win a cup.

            That all being said, I’m in this really weird limbo with this team right now. I cheer for them and want them to win each and every game but at the same time I want them to sink to the bottom of the standings.

          • Subversive

            I am running with that stat, but that’s because it’s the only one that matters – results.

            Personally, I don’t believe in comparing to the lowest common denominator. Calgary should be looking at examples or perpetual success, not failure, and then figuring out how to best emulate that.

          • supra steve

            I am a Flame fan (since ’80), and each loss hurts a little, but not as much as the wins. This management/ownership team has demonstrated a need for a 2 x 4 over the head to spark a change. So, cheer for wins and continued mediocrity until Iggy and Kipper retire and then the wheels finally fall off? No thanks. Lose a bunch this year, move some valuable older vets, draft well in the summer of ’13? Yes, please.

            So I will enjoy Flame losses this year, and I will continue to be a fan, despite our difference of opinion.

          • supra steve

            I have to whole heartedly agree here. I’ve been a fan since ’83 when I was 7 years old. I watch every game that’s televised, see one game live each year in Cgy (I live in Victoria), I have a signed #12 hanging in my closet and I read every word that comes across this site… I have always been a fan and will always be a fan and right now all I want is optimism, some hope for the future. I spend more time following our prospects the last few years than I do following the actual team… I’m tired of watching the same old thing – this really is the definition of insanity!

            So sadly I say chalk me up on cheering for a loss side… three in a row should just about do it. *hangs head in shame*

          • Avalain

            I agree with this completely, but I also have to add in that I don’t really want to see the players just roll over and die this year. Just giving up before they’re halfway through the season is awful.

  • jeremywilhelm

    Some good news is that Weiss is out with wrist surgery, so there’s one less option for Gm’s looking to trade meaning the price for Iginla, etc. should go up.

    • RKD

      All the more reason to trade Iggy before he gets injured…According to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun 5 teams interested: Pens, Bruins, Flyers, Stars and Sharks… if Iggy were available of course.

    • Parallex

      All the more reason to trade Iggy before he gets injured…According to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun 5 teams interested: Pens, Bruins, Flyers, Stars and Sharks… if Iggy were available of course.

  • Parallex

    Shame about Weiss, it’s a contract year for him… assuming that Getzlaf resigns with the Ducks then he’d have been the top point producing center available. Absent injury I could imagine someone overpaying quite a bit but with his season over the market is going to be a bit softer.

  • Jack Johnson is Cam Barker who can skate. I laughed out loud when the Jackets acquired him for Carter. That trade made the Kings better by addition and subtraction.

    He might develop into something better at some point, but mostly he’s been a liability at ES throughout his career.

    That said, CBJ liked him a lot, but it was under Howson’s watch who has since been fired. If the new GM rates Johnson the way I do, that would explain why they’d want to move him.

    • I’d agree with you as far as his play in LA went. But his numbers were good in CBJ. He was even a plus 7 I think. Besides, D-men with his natural attributes don’t come along very often. It’s like Phaneuf. Do you mock him or try to make something out of him?

      • He was +5 last year, but -10 this season. All his underlying numbers are middling.

        If I had Johnson, I’d try to do something with him in terms of deployment. Maybe Wideman deployment or easier.

        I’d never trade a quality asset for him though.

        • Parallex

          Granted, but I’m coming at it from CBJ’s side, not trying to acquire him.

          Though I suppose it’s all the same. What are you being offered for him or what do you have to give up for him?

          I just think he’s still young enough and with enough natural attributes to not throw away.

  • jeremywilhelm

    Jack Johnson has to be one of the single most over rated defenseman to ever play in the NHL. It is amazing how not good he is, and how good everyone portrays him to be.

  • RE: JJ. I’m pretty sure at one point he played alongside Doughty, and they moved him off onto a 2nd PP, 3-6 D-man position. His +/- just goes down every season (he’s a career -95) and he’s actually a pile of crap. I do acknowledge he may yet have some unrealized potential.

    Looks like Hamrlik and Nonstopolous are both on waivers. I pray that Feaster doesn’t pick them both off waivers, hoping for some stupid resurgence with these truculent players.

      • Not that it matters, but you are incorrect.

        According to TSN Ice Chips, he was placed on waivers yesterday BY the Penguins. The TSN player profile also has this re: transactions.

        2013/03/05 Placed on waivers by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
        2013/03/05 Signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Penguins to a one-year two-way contract.

        This is why I’m concerned, because I don’t want Feaster thinking “OH SH!T I KNOW THIS GUY! LET’S CLAIM HIM OFF WAIVERS AND TELL EVERYONE IT WAS THE PLAN THE WHOLE TIME”.


  • supra steve

    No matter how good or bad Johnson is he still has value.

    The funny thing that sorta relates is that we wouldn’t be arguing for the last 3 years as to what to do as an organization, be it win at all costs or trade for future, if Sutter traded Phanuef who, like Johnson, had enough value to get a top centre.

    Feaster’s doing his best to clean up and so far I give him a passing grade. The ROR situation was a blunder but despite what Gillies says, I heard they were gonna offer sheet also, anyone could have made it.

  • Subversive

    I disagree Parallex. If I’m hoping for losses to force management’s hand in the way they proceed with this team, hopefully towards a better future for the team, how does that make me a bad fan? I want a long term, sustainably successful future. The best way to achieve that, in my opinion, is to have a little bit of short term pain for this half season, and conceivably be a real contender within 1 to 2 seasons afterwards, if done right.

    • Parallex

      Yes it does make you a bad fan. The entire essense of fandom is that you have a rooting interest in the team. To actually root against the team defies the entire concept of being a fan.

      Hoping for a change in direction is different then hoping for loses. Accepting the probability of change occurring as a consulation prize of a losing effort is fine but actively hoping for loses? Thanks but no thanks… I’ll leave that up to the folk in Shelbyville who’ve spent a ton of money on “hope” and thus far have nothing to show for it.

  • beloch

    I’m asking this, even though I know the answer:

    What are the odds that, this year, Feaster will sell Kipper and Iggy while prices are high even if the playoffs aren’t outright unreachable?

    It really is looking like one of the best markets we’ve seen for sellers in ages. Iggy’s contract is up at the end of the year, so he could come right back after the playoffs. The Flames actually have some alternatives to Kipper in net next year. More fans than ever want to see the team make smart moves for the future instead of “going for it” and failing yet again. The stars are freakin’ alligned!

    I would kiss the ground Feaster walks on if, absent a losing streak forcing his hand, he were to say, “Yeah, maybe we could squeak in and play 4 more games, but our future is more important”.

    Bah. Who am I kidding. We’re goin’ for it! Again.

  • Stockley

    Anyone else morbidly relieved that Weiss is hurt? I could see Feaster trading the farm to the damn Panthers to bring Weiss in as that number 1 center we’ve been lacking for so long. Because you know we’re just one mediocre center away from winning the cup. I didn’t necessarily want to see the guy get hurt, but I don’t want to overpay to trade at the deadline. Especially since we need to sell this year. This looks like the same old Flames team. Play just well enough to tease a playoff appearance, play just well enough to get a middling draft pick. Who are they trying to kid, anyhow? Even if they make the playoffs they’re not going anywhere. This isn’t an underachieving Kings squad who finally starting clicking late in the season. Those Kings would have had home ice if there were a few more weeks in the regular season, they were that dreaded low seed no one wanted to see. Does our management honestly believe the Blackhawks would be afraid to see Calgary in the first round? Emery has their number, they’d just anoint him starter for round 1 and it’d be 4 and done.

  • Stockley

    There’s no guarantee that if the Flames finish last or near the bottom that they would have the first pick. The rules have changed this year.
    Bottom 14 all have a chance. Yes I know its a percentage draw, but this is the Flames.

    • Stockley

      The most you can slip is one place in the pecking order. Finish near the bottom and you should have a shot at a good player regardless. Though I’m sure Jay would find a way to screw that up.

  • Captain Ron

    I’m not very optimistic about the upcoming California road trip. It may be more about survival than anything else. Jeesus the Kings look tough to beat. Thankfully there will be a day between games for the boys to ice down the wounds. This way the second loss to them shouldn’t be too much worse than the first.