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.