The Road Map

The Calgary Flames enter tonight’s action in a playoff spot.

They presently have 77 points. To stay in a playoff spot at the end of the regular season, the common thought is that they’ll need about 95 points. That will require them to get 18 points, or 9 wins, from their remaining 16 games.

Here’s a brief look at what they’re up against.

  • ANAHEIM (42-19-7); they play them at home tonight. It’s the second game of Anaheim’s three-game swing up north. They’re coming off a 2-1 loss to Vancouver on Monday. Currently a playoff team, and a safe one at that.
  • TORONTO (26-35-6); they host them on Friday night. The Leafs have been really bad lately and will be just beginning a three-game western swing. It’s a winnable game against a non-playoff team, as the same voodoo fueling Calgary’s wins is seemingly triggering Toronto losses.
  • COLORADO (30-26-11); the Flames visit them on Saturday night as part of a back-to-back. It’s the final game of a three-game Avalanche homestand, and the Avs have injuries piling up on them. A winnable game.
  • ST. LOUIS (42-19-5); home date on March 17. It’s the second game of the Blues’ monstrous six-game road trip, as well as their third game in four nights. The Blues are good, but they’ll be tired, too.
  • PHILADELPHIA (28-27-13); home date on March 19. It’ll be the third game of the Flyers’ four-game Canadian trip. The Flyers are a team sliding down the standings a bit. It’s winnable.
  • COLUMBUS (28-34-4); home date on March 21. The final game of a three-game road trip for the Blue Jackets, who are sub-.500 and well out of the playoffs.
  • COLORADO (30-26-11), again; home date on March 23. The second meeting of the two teams in a nine-day span, as well as the third game of Colorado’s five-game road trip. The Avalanche will be relatively fresh, though, as they’ll have been off since the previous Friday (a two-day break).
  • DALLAS (30-27-10); home date on March 25. The first game of a three-game trip for the Stars, who are a ways out of the playoffs now.
  • MINNESOTA (37-23-7); away game on March 27. It’ll be the first game of a Wild homestand, as well as the first part of a back-to-back – they play LA the next night at home, too.
  • NASHVILLE (42-19-7); away game on March 29. The Predators will be returning after playing the Capitals in DC the night before. It’ll also be their third game in four nights. The Preds are good, but they will be tired, too.
  • DALLAS (30-27-10), again; away game on March 30. Their first game back from the road trip that brought them to Calgary five days previous.
  • ST. LOUIS (42-19-5), again; away game on April 2. The final game of a three-game Blues homestand. The Blues will still be really good at this point.
  • EDMONTON (18-38-11); away game on April 4. The first game of Edmonton’s final, three-game, homestand of the season. The Oilers are bad. Really, really bad.
  • ARIZONA (21-38-8); home date on April 7. First game of a brief two-game road trip for the Coyotes. They’ll have been off for two days before, though.
  • LOS ANGELES (32-21-13); home date on April 9. Final game of a three-game trip through western Canada. The Kings will be in a dog-fight with Calgary for a spot, so expect a playoff-like atmosphere.
  • WINNIPEG (33-22-12); away game on April 11. Winnipeg’s one-and-done homestand to end the season, but also their first game back after a three games in four nights road trip. Expect another playoff-like battle, potentially to determine the final playoff spot.

If you want to get technical, the Flames play 10 games against teams behind them in the standings. Their travel isn’t terrible. In basically every way they can be, they’re masters of their own destiny right now. If they win the games that, based on this season, they should be winning, they’ll get in.

And even if they lay an egg in one of those games, the schedule provides them with a teeny, tiny bit of wiggle room.

But I’m sure I’m not the only person hoping they string together some wins in the early part of their March/April calendar and develop some breathing room, otherwise the last two games against the Kings and Jets will be very, very stressful for all involved.

      • mk

        My money is on the Flames needing to get the 3rd Pacific division spot to be in. Meaning, they have to beat out the Sharks (looks doable) & Kings (yikes – they’re never out until they’re out).

        That 2nd last game – wow will it be a big game.

    • mk

      Down to the last three+ weeks and still in it. The way the Wild are playing and with the injuries on the Blackhawks I’m wondering what’s the potential of both LA and Chicago missing it? It’ll be exciting and interesting. Flames just gotta win and they’re in.

    • RedMan

      non-contenders like Toronto, Dallas, Edmonton and ‘Arizona must wrestle with the desire to play spoilers and build confidence for next year (and professional pride) and the desire to get the best draft pick they can.

      it’s going to be a tough order to beat the Kings out for the spot given the way the kings are pouring it on, playing well, and have the skill and confidence to get it done, especially when the refs start putting the whistles away and allow the big guys to get away with more.

      If the Flames leave it to the last two games of the year to seal the deal, I am concerned about their chances. they need to make hay early, like noted above.

    • Parallex

      If Giordano were healthy I’d probably put money on the Flames getting in. That he’s out for the rest of the year is what prevents me from doing so.

      Regardless of that really the only thing the Flames need to do is pace L.A. They’ve got a few things going for them there as The Kings have just embarked on what should be a difficult stretch for them (7 of the next 10 on the road), they’re one of the leagues best home teams (Hat tip to Coach Sutter… better at his job then GM Sutter) but their road record is lacking while the Flames have the reverse (7 in the dome with 3 away).

      So yes, their destiny is in their hands. The schedule isn’t against them.

    • RedMan

      it looks to me like it is a 9 team race for 8 spots, with the top three in the central pretty much locked and only the top in the pacific division a lock for sure.

      San Jose has a long-shot chance, and have an easier sched then everyone except maybe Calgary, but looking very unlikely they could pull of a comeback based on their recent record (4-6-0 last 10) and their scrambly play. San Jose would have to go 11-4 or 10-4-1 to get in ostensibly.

      Colorado, while being 6-4 in their last 10, would have to go 12-3 to make it – they are done for sure.

      My best guess is that Winnipeg & Calgary battle it out for the 8th and 9th spot, with Kings making it.

      I give Calgary the edge due to schedule and season history of wins, but I would not be surprised if the last playoff decision was decided in the last game of the year against the Jets, IN WINNIPEG!!!! this is why they can’t leave it to the last 2 games to seal the deal.

      • piscera.infada

        I’ve seen that a few times (or, Kylington going somewhere around the projected pick). It begs the question though: why is he falling so much?

        Is it simply because he hasn’t played much due to injury? Has been particularly poor this year? Is it just a case of others getting more hype over the course of the year?

        I know at the beginning of the season he was widely regarded as a top-5-ish pick. It seems to be a very similar situation to Barzal–projected high, injured, then dropping like a turd in a pool.

        Kylington in the first, Andersson in the second, I’ll be smitten.

        • Parallex

          Speaking of Barzal the guy had 21 points in February somehow. He’s suddenly having a pretty good season.

          For some reason I still think the Flames end up with him somehow. I’ve thought that since last May.

          • piscera.infada

            I mean barring no Kylington, one of the other top-rated defensemen, or obviously, a draft lottery win, I’d be down. Kid’s a hell of a hockey player.

          • Parallex

            Yup, If Barzal and Kylington are available and the Flames don’t sprint up to the podium to say one of their names I will be an unhappy camper. I’d be like the Ducks somehow getting Cam Fowler 12th overall.

          • TheoForever

            Bennett was consider to be number 1 prospect by many. However, look at the rest of the draft.

            Either way it wouldn’t be funny.
            big is good and bigger is gooder is….

            • JMK

              I’d be happy with Werenski, Provorov or Kylington. All sound like good players. Didn’t think Hanifin was anything special at juniors, although didn’t see that much of him.

            • DoubleDIon

              Agreed, although I haven’t seen enough of Kylington to form an opinion. Werenski has outplayed Hanifin at both the college level and the WJC. Not sure how Hanifin is still rated higher.

            • DoubleDIon

              We already had Hanifin, his name was Jay Bouwmeester. We traded him for what became Emile Poirier and we’re happy about that.

              Backlund on the other hand has been everything JBo was not for this team, helping it get closer and closer to that Playoff berth.

    • piscera.infada

      Regression. Regression. Regression.

      The laws of thermodynamics state that you can’t get killed in CORSI night after night and still make the playoffs.

      The Flames finish 0-16, might even have some previous wins deducted due to poor WOWY and Fenwick.

    • Parallex

      By the way that every bubble team has been playing, I think 96-97 points will be the minimum to make the big show. It’s still totally doable. Go Flames GO!

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      I have maintained all season that I didn’t think they would make the playoffs. Based on the data above, I may need to learn to like crow. Hopefully it tastes better when paired with playoff beers.