This Is Going Down To The Wire

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.

MAGIC NUMBERS

(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.

CGY VAN MIN WPG LAK
PTS 87 90 91 88 86
ROW 36 39 38 31 34
GR 8 9 8 8 9
3/26 COL MTL @NYI
3/27 @MIN CGY
3/28 DAL LAK @MIN
3/29 @NSH CHI
3/30 @DAL @STL @CHI
3/31 @NSH NYR
4/1
4/2 @STL @CHI NYR EDM
4/3
4/4 @EDM @WPG DET VAN COL
4/5
4/6 LAK WPG @MIN @VAN
4/7 ARI @CHI @STL @EDM
4/8
4/9 LAK ARI @NSH @COL @CGY
4/10
4/11 @WPG EDM @STL CGY SJS

OBSERVATIONS

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.

    • Reidja

      I have no faith in the Habs, they’re a joke team without Price, and probably lose big time to the Jets.

      But I hope the Islanders make a statement game at home over the Kings.

  • Greg

    Even if we don’t make the playoffs, it already feels like the playoffs.

    We could lose our next 4 and, assuming we beat edm and Arizona, we’ll still go into those final 2 games with at least an outside chance given its winnipeg and LA.

    I still think we’ll make it now, but either way, we’re getting to experience some playoff hockey right now anyway. Can’t ask for anything more from a team that was supposed to be bottom 2 this year!

  • Toofun

    I agree that Van looks pretty solid but if Calgary beats Minnesota on Friday night then the Wild have a really tough 7 games, so I wouldn’t call them a shoe-in just yet.

  • I’d like to see Calgary clinch by beating Los Angeles in the 2nd last game of the season for many reasons: winning final home game of the season in front of the C of Red, Coach Darryl’s reaction, being able to rest core guys because the Wnnipeg game is meaningless.

    Flames gotta win in the meantime to clinch at or before that game with Los Angeles though.

  • Scoring_guru

    Wow is that 8 game pointless streak back in December coming back to bite us in the but…… sure would have been nice to pick up a few loser points during that drought. Oh well….woulda, coulda, shoulda…..

  • Scoring_guru

    YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!1

    C’MON ISLANDERS. YOU’RE GREAT THE WHOLE YEAR AND YOU LIE AN EGG AGAINST THE KINGS.

    Kings keep winning. this is ridiculous.

      • Scoring_guru

        No miracle required…only a goalie that will steal games…..so far the Jets and Kings goalies have been stepping up….as good as Ramo has been playing he has NOT been better than the opposing goalies….end of story.

    • Rockmorton65

      Realistically, I think we’re chasing Winnipeg, not L.A. The defending champs are too talented to miss. They do a version of this every year. They hang around and hang around and make the playoffs at the last minute and then up their game.

      I think we’re closer to Winnipeg. Up and coming team, key injuries, play hard. I think Winnipeg will slip before LA will.

      • jdthor

        Winnipeg is still red hot.

        Vancouver on the other hand looks quite uninspired tonight against Avalanche.

        Maybe it’s those awful jerseys they are wearing…

  • Scoring_guru

    So Montreal is all over the Jets – outshooting them 31 to 13 after 2 periods. Oh but they decided to rest Price tonight, so they are losing 4 to 1.

    Wonderful!

  • jdthor

    It would appear that any estimates at 95 points getting you into the playoffs was way off base as Noone seems to lose. What, 8, 9 games left ? Appears you’ll need 104 points. Stupid

  • RKD

    Minnesota is on pace for 101 points, with Winnipeg’s victory tonight they are on pace for 98 points. LA’s win puts them on pace for 98 points. Calgary is on pace for 96 points. However, any of the other teams could miss but I think it comes down to Calgary and LA. Hey if it comes down to the last weekend, maybe it means we get in and go on a big run! Who knows, maybe the Flames step it up big time on the road.

  • prendrefeu

    Another difficult chapter in being a Flames fan. Here’s hoping for a miracle

    Honestly though, is it really?

    I think about it this way: if the Flames make the playoffs, that’s so rad!
    If they don’t, oh well. The Flames are in a 2nd year of a rebuild (maybe 3rd, but whatever, let’s say 2nd) and showed their potential and future throughout this year. So they don’t make the playoffs, they get a luck-swing at the top picks or at least have a better 1st round pick… still not too bad.

    The future is ridiculously bright: better wear shades.
    Playoffs? Great
    No Playoffs? Ah, well.

    In the meantime: enjoy the ride!

  • RedMan

    the ONLY way this goes down to the wire is if the Flames pull off some surprising wins on this roadtrip against teams that have been playing lights out recently

    Minnesota, Nashville, St Louis and even Dallas. I just don’t see them doing it, but am hoping they surprise me.

    They have been playing differently lately – playing “tight” or whatever. They have proven they can skate with teams and set the pace, but lately have been getting away from this, backing off to far, giving teams too much time and space and not creating havoc with their amazing forecheck.

    They are indeed missing Gio, and seem either tired or off track or tight.

    on a side note – the Vancouver trolls who have come around laughing at the Flames, well – if the Flames don’t make it they will get the Kings in the first round, and the old adage, “he who laughs last, laughs loudest” applies.

    if the flames don’t go 3-1-1 on this roadie, I don’t see them making it. going to be a tall order, but the team has some real future stars here, and who knows, maybe some of them step up and take control and push the team in?

    • RedMan

      Well said. This road trip on the first 4 games will be a humdinger. We have had a hard time this year with Minny & St Louis, Nashville for some reason we do well against & Dallas is a coin flip. All 4 of these teams are not tanking & have been playing very well of late. Not saying our boys can’t rise to the occasion because they have been all year. But…. yikes we could easily only pull out 1 point out of these next 4 games & still play well & then it doesn’t matter. Hell of a year & yes, this is where we really miss Gio.
      Year 2 of rebuild. Wow. More improvement next year coming has to sit well regardless what happens in the next 4 games. Lets consider this the start of the playoffs. Game 1 tonight!