Last night, the Calgary Flames crept a bit closer to a playoff berth via a shootout loss to the Dallas Stars. Loss or not, they got a point, and points are what matter right now.
And make no mistake about it, we’re headed into a final 17 days of the 2014-15 season that are all about numbers. The most important numbers are this: there are five teams fighting for four spots. Somebody is going home unhappy on April 11.
I personally think nothing will be settled until that final weekend. Here’s why.
(Stick-tap to Sportsnet’s Pat Steinberg for his magic numbers work!)
For the curious, here’s how magic numbers are calculated versus Calgary:
- Take a team’s current points, and add all the possible points they could accumulate in their remaining games.
- Subtract Calgary’s points from that number.
- What you have left is the total points that team needs to lose or Calgary needs to gain in order for Calgary not to be passed by that team. (If you want to get it down to the simpler wins/losses magic number, divide by two.)
Magic numbers heading into tonight:
- Vancouver: 11
- Minnesota: 10.5
- Winnipeg: 9
- Los Angeles: 9
- Dallas: 6
- Colorado: 5
- San Jose 5
Let’s presume that Dallas, Colorado and San Jose are toast. It simplifies things a bit, and it’s probably true given how many games Calgary has left.
LET’S DO SOME MATH
For the curious, ROW are regulation and overtime wins, the first tie-breaker in the event of ties in points at the end of the regular season. GR is games remaining.
Well… Calgary has 4 games against current playoff teams, compared to 4 for Vancouver, 7 for Minnesota, 7 for Winnipeg and 5 for Los Angeles. If we presume Calgary goes roughly .500 from here on out (effectively beating the teams below them), that drops the magic numbers to 7 for Vancouver, 6.5 for Minnesota, 5 for Winnipeg and 5 for Los Angeles.
Looking at their schedules, I can’t see Vancouver dropping 7 of their remaining 9, or Minnesota dropping 7 of their remaining 8. They’re probably safe. That leaves a three-horse race down to the wire between Calgary, Winnipeg and Los Angeles for the remaining pair of spots. Right now, just two points seperates those three teams.
And don’t you know it, Calgary plays both of those teams in the final three days of the regular season.
Hold onto your hats, folks. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.