Handicapping The Race

There are approximately 30 games remaining for the majority of the teams left in the playoff chase, so let’s take some time on this off-day for the Calgary Flames to examine their chances in greater depth.

I spent my evening looking through each team’s remaining schedule.

Here’s the gist.

Wins Points Strength
of Sked
Calgary 30 (14) 29 61 .571
San Jose 30 (15) 27 61 .567
Winnipeg 29 (16) 26 61 .593
Vancouver 33 (17) 28 59 .557
Colorado 31 (16) 22 55 .562
Minnesota 32 (17) 24 54 .579
Dallas 32 (14) 23 54 .590
Los Angeles 32 (13) 21 54 .574


  • Strength of Sked is based on the average points percentage of each team’s remaining opponents. In this sense, the Flames are in a fairly good spot, as nobody has an appreciably easier (or harder) schedule. Vancouver’s is slightly easier, Winnipeg and Dallas’ slightly harder, but nothing hugely significant.
  • Another way of looking at it is how many games each team has against the NHL’s best teams – those with points percentages north of 65%. Dallas has 12. Winnipeg and Minnesota have 10 each. Los Angeles has 9. Calgary has 8. San Jose and Colorado have 7 each. Vancouver has 6.
  • On the flip side, most teams still have dates with the NHL’s bottom-dwellers (Carolina, Arizona, Edmonton and Buffalo): Calgary has the least with just 2, as does Winnipeg. Everyone else has either 4 or 5.

Based on this, if you forecast out each team’s opponents points percentage of opponents and use it to project out what points they should earn from here on out, here’s where the standings go…

IN THE PLAYOFFS: Vancouver (2nd Pacific), San Jose (3rd Pacific), Calgary (1st Wild Card) and Winnipeg (2nd Wild Card)
NOT IN THE PLAYOFFS: Colorado, Los Angeles, Minnesota and Dallas

Of course, the simplified projections ignore many factors, such as Minnesota’s excellent goaltending, various teams getting run down with injuries, the role of Calgary and San Jose’s impending long road trips, voodoo and other such things.

As such, don’t take these as predictions, merely as projections with the appropriate amount of salt.

  • RedMan

    the flames may want to place a call to the sens, perhaps marc methot could be had to bolster the backend. package a couple of prospects ie klimchuk, and /or a pick.

  • Zarny

    An interesting tidbit I first heard from Elliotte Friedman is that since the loser point was invented only 5 teams have made the playoffs who were more than 4 points out…starting November.

    Games in hand will be important, and of course there are still a lot of scenarios that are “mathematically” possible.

    As much as it pains me, with last nights win the Flames odds of making the playoffs got a lot better.

  • Toofun

    So it really comes down to Calgary beating Winnipeg because it’s unlikely that 2 of the bottom teams will be able to catch the “playoff pack”.

    Winnipeg is in dissarray right now and have the hardest schedule with 10 “very hard” opponents and only 2 “very easy” ones.

    Minnesota is rounding into shape and have a lot of home games left.

    Hopefully this turns into a batlle between them and Winnipeg for the 2nd wild card spot, with Calgary taking the 1st…

  • Parallex

    I really hope that if the Flames make the Playoffs they take one of the divisional slots… I’d rather want to avoid Anaheim and the Central teams in the first round

  • febreze

    Obviously the Flames should stay the course and not unload prospects but does anyone else think that maybe their version of “going for it” could be to hang on to some of the vets? I just can’t see anyone else besides Ramo finding a home without us getting fleeced. I’ve long been under the assumption that Glencross won’t waive his clause but now that his baby is a bit older would he move to a team that allows him to showcase himself and increase his offseason value? And has Matty Franchise’s bond with the Flames become too strong for him to move? If we can’t move GlenX and the only one who we can sell high on is Colborne then I think the team might benefit more from the experience gained from playoff push with a couple extra vets over a couple of extra 6th or 7th rounders later.

  • RKD

    There’s a ton of hockey to be played still. The Flames have a lot of quality opponents this month and a big seven game road trip against Eastern which they struggle against. We still have solid goaltending, a world class d-pair and the team appears to be playing better defensively. Guys like Colborne and Raymond are finding their groove again. Our d has put up 129 points in the NHL which ranks us first, we have the most third period goals in the NHL and we have a sterling record when leading after two periods. We have a great shot of making it, we just need to keep it up! The team is playing differently now. This week in huge games against other teams chasing for a playoff hunt the Flames executed pretty well. We not just riding on adrenaline, high shooting percentages and above average goaltending. Look at how they dictated the game against the Sharks last night. Even though it was scoreless after one period, the Flames took over the game and didn’t look back. That’s a huge sign of development and maturation.