The Calgary Flames lost yesterday to the Boston Bruins. The loss began the final quarter of the Flames’ 2015-16 schedule. It also made two things abundantly clear: this team is not making the playoffs this season, nor do they deserve to.
But they may also enter territory that usually belongs to their northern neighbours.
The Flames may get a lottery pick this season.
Straight from the NHL’s (awful) website:
1) If two or more clubs are tied in points during the regular season, the standing of the clubs is determined in the following order:
The fewer number of games played (i.e., superior points percentage).
2) The greater number of games won, excluding games won in the Shootout. This figure is reflected in the ROW column.
The greater number of points earned in games between the tied clubs. If two clubs are tied, and have not played an equal number of home games against each other, points earned in the first game played in the city that had the extra game shall not be included. If more than two clubs are tied, the higher percentage of available points earned in games among those clubs, and not including any “”odd”” games, shall be used to determine the standing.
3) The greater differential between goals for and against for the entire regular season. NOTE: In standings a victory in a shootout counts as one goal for, while a shootout loss counts as one goal against.
THE PLAYOFF PACK
Here’s how Calgary stacks up to the nine teams with a realistic playoff chance (sorry Vancouver).
(GP=games played, ROW=regulation and overtime wins)
|Season Series (Remaining)|
|Chicago||64||83||38||119||56||1-1-0 (Mar. 26, home)|
|St. Louis||66||83||33||115||49||0-2-0 (Mar. 14, home)|
|Los Angeles||62||78||35||118||55||0-2-0 (Mar. 31, road & Apr. 5, home)|
|Anaheim||61||76||32||118||53||0-4-0 (Mar. 30, road)|
|Nashville||64||75||29||111||47||1-1-0 (Mar. 9, home)|
|San Jose||62||74||31||114||51||2-2-0 (Mar. 7, home)|
|Minnesota||64||68||29||104||47||0-1-0 (Mar. 24, road & Apr. 9, road)|
|Colorado||65||68||29||102||46||1-1-0 (Mar. 18, home)|
So here’s the gist: once a team has more actual points than Calgary has possible points (and more ROW than the Flames have Max ROW), the Flames cannot catch them. Once there are more teams that they can’t catch than playoff spots, the Flames are mathematically eliminated.
In five more Chicago/Dallas/St. Louis wins and/or Flames losses, they’re gonna start running out of mathematical chances. And they already don’t have many chances to begin with. The Flames have games against basically everybody above them, so they could be put out of their misery rather rapidly.
THE BASEMENT PACK
On the bright side, they may be in good shape for finishing really, really low in the standings.
|Season Series (Remaining)|
|Toronto||61||52||16||94||37||1-0-0 (Mar. 21, road)|
|Edmonton||65||55||20||89||37||2-1-1 (Apr. 2, road)|
|Winnipeg||62||56||24||96||44||1-1-0 (Mar. 16, home)|
|Buffalo||64||58||24||94||42||1-0-0 (Mar. 3, road)|
|Arizona||63||60||26||98||45||0-2-1 (Mar. 11, home & Mar. 28, road)|
|Vancouver||62||60||20||100||40||3-1-0 (Apr. 7, home)|
Take the tie-breakers and reverse them: teams want fewer ROW, fewer points, and to lose the season series against the other teams.
As you can see, there’s a log-jam at the bottom, and Calgary’s nine losses in their last 10 games has seen them slide right into the thick of things. They play games against the other bottom-dwelling teams – except Columbus – and their biggest games begin on Thursday when they play Buffalo. Their remaining games against Toronto, Edmonton and Winnipeg also have massive draft lottery implications.
HOW ARE THEIR CHANCES?
Let’s compare Calgary to the other basement teams in a few key metrics:
- Score-Adjusted Corsi? 47.2%, tied with Vancouver; Arizona and Buffalo are worse.
- Power Play? 15.9%, second-worst in the NHL (Toronto is the worst).
- Penalty Killing? 72.8%, worst in the NHL.
- Even-Strength Save Percentage? 91.2%, worst in the NHL (and their good goalie, Karri Ramo, is out for the season).
The Flames are among the worst in the NHL in most of these areas – puck possession, special teams and stopping pucks – and there’s no team that’s equally bad across the board. Between their glut of games remaining against good teams and their glut of games remaining against bad teams, the Flames are masters of their own destiny here.
If they can keep playing close games and figuring out ways to lose – via bad penalty-killing or just starting Niklas Backstrom a ton down the stretch – they may finish lower than they ever have before and get some much-needed help for their young forward core.