Making Sense of the Magic Number


After last night’s Calgary Flames win, the magic number for your hometown heroes sits at 12.

That means that any combination of 12 Flames wins, Jets losses and/or half-wins or half-losses (overtime and shootout situations) results in the Flames returning to the playoffs for the first time since FlamesNation’s first season.

So is it possible? Is it likely? Should we all start clearing our calendars for mid-April?


  • March 21 vs. Washington
  • March 23 at Edmonton
  • March 24 at Vancouver
  • March 26 vs. Montreal
  • March 29 vs. Chicago
  • March 31 vs. NY Rangers
  • April 4 vs. Vancouver
  • April 6 at Minnesota
  • April 7 at St. Louis
  • April 9 at Colorado
  • April 11 vs. Calgary

If we presume that a team is expected to lose against any team above them in the standings – it’s a flawed assumption, but it makes this discussion easier – then the Jets are set up for seven losses [Washington, Vancouver, Montreal, Chicago, the Rangers, Minnesota, St. Louis and Vancouver again]. (You can be nice and say that the Vancouver game is a toss-up, but let’s say seven.)

That means that Calgary needs to eke out five wins from their remaining schedule.


  • March 21 vs. Columbus
  • March 23 vs. Colorado
  • March 25 vs. Dallas
  • March 27 at Minnesota
  • March 29 at Nashville
  • March 30 at Dallas
  • April 2 at St. Louis
  • April 4 at Edmonton
  • April 7 vs. Arizona
  • April 9 vs. Los Angeles
  • April 11 at Winnipeg

Using the same “above the standings equals losses” credo that we used for the Jets (and flipping it), Calgary has six games that are expected wins on the schedule. Combined with the seven expected losses for the Jets, this gives the Flames some wiggle room – and no, I didn’t count Calgary’s game against the Jets as an expected win for them.

Calgary can make the playoffs before the final weekend if they take care of their own business and Winnipeg doesn’t take care of theirs. Granted, Calgary can make life easier on themselves by stealing a win or two out of tougher barns, but they can avoid a stressful final weekend with a good string of games.

That said, that final weekend is there if they need it.


Here’s the Kings’ final few games: Vancouver, New Jersey, the Rangers, the Islanders, Minnesota, Chicago, Edmonton, Colorado, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and San Jose. There are a lot of games against teams below them in the standings, and quite a few against the teams around them. There’s not a definite split between the good and bad teams on the docket like Winnipeg has, so it’s a lot harder to project.


Their remaining games: Los Angeles, Arizona, Winnipeg, Colorado, Dallas, St. Louis, Nashville, Chicago, Winnipeg, Los Angeles, Arizona and Edmonton. Again, like the Kings, a lot of games against teams in the same basic cluster and only a few games against teams that can be thrown into the upper or lower echelons of the league.


Their remaining games: St. Louis, Toronto, the Islanders, Calgary, Los Angeles, the Rangers, Detroit, Winnipeg, Chicago, Nashville and St. Louis.

Keep an eye on them. They’re a bit ahead of Calgary so the magic number needed to pass them is a bit steeper, but that’s a rough, rough schedule outside of their game against the Leafs.


Magic numbers for the four previously-mentioned squads:

  • Winnipeg: 12
  • Los Angeles: 12
  • Vancouver: 12
  • Minnesota: 12.5

(For those keeping track at home: subtract Calgary’s points from an opponents’ total potential points, add one and then divide by two.)

Calgary has 35 regulation and overtime wins (ROW), which is the first tie-breaker. That currently gives them tie-breakers with Winnipeg (29 ROW) and Los Angeles (32 ROW) in the event they tie in points, which functionally drops the magic number against them to 11.5.

So can the Flames make the playoffs?

Yes. But they’ll need to win the games against teams below them and hopefully their opponents lose to the teams above them, as well.

  • Toofun

    Calgary needs 1 more point than Winnipeg in the remaining games to finish ahead of them due to their ROW advantage.

    If you eliminate the teams they both play against, it leaves just 6 games.

    Winnipeg’s 6 listed by today’s league standings are: Montreal (1st), Rangers (4th), Chicago (7th), Washington (10th) and Vancouver twice (13th*2). Their average quality of competition is 8th place.

    Calgary’s 6 are: Nashville (5th), LA (17th), Dallas twice (22*2), Columbus (25th) and Arizona (29th). The average is 20th.

    Calgary has a big advantage down the stretch…

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    Feels like we are building the 89 Stanley cup champs and we just added Macinnis(morrison) …hopeful …Gilmour (bennett) Suter i would say is tj Brodie and Otto is colbourne. Maybe its just me but it feels like the same mix of skill and hard working team play..who do you think compares on our roster to the 89 roster?