How low can the Flames finish?

When the Flames defeated the Oilers 5-0 in the final Battle of Alberta at Rexall Place, they locked themselves out of last place in the league standings.

Calgary currently has 72 points. Edmonton is now sitting at 67, and with two games left, they can finish with a maximum of 71 points.

Second last in the NHL is Toronto, also with 67 points: but with four games left, they can finish with a maximum of 75 points. So while it isn’t possible for the Flames to finish 30th overall, they can still finish 29th, and still get decent draft lottery odds.

It’s the last week of the season: let’s see just where there chances lie.

Highest possible scenario

Say the Flames win their final three games. That gives them a maximum potential of 78 points. As of right now, they’re guaranteed to be a bottom nine team: 10th last in the NHL are the Ottawa Senators, who have 81 points. Calgary cannot catch them.

Ninth last in the NHL are the Montreal Canadiens, who have 78 points. Calgary and Montreal both have the same number of ROWs – 31 each – so if Montreal loses out and Calgary wins out, the Flames would pass them.

The Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres, meanwhile, have 77 points each. Both teams would have to lose out and the Flames would have to collect five of six possible points in order to pass them.

These are all possible, but none seem particularly likely. All it will take is one win from any of Montreal, Arizona, and Buffalo to finish with, at most, the sixth worst record in the NHL: where the Flames currently sit. Likewise, all it takes is one Flames loss to ensure the same fate.

So while the Flames could theoretically jump up to 22nd in the NHL standings, it seems pretty likely they won’t go any higher than 25th.

Lowest possible scenario

This leaves four teams to really keep an eye on regarding the Flames’ draft position: Winnipeg, Vancouver, Columbus, and Toronto.

Let’s start high up. Winnipeg, like Calgary, has 72 points, with three games remaining. The difference here is Calgary has one more ROW than Winnipeg does, putting them above them in the standings. 

The Jets defeated the Wild 5-1, but their remaining three games are against the California teams, all of whom are playoff-bound. Winnipeg did just defeat the Kings 4-1 on March 24, and picked up a point against the Ducks in a 3-2 overtime loss on March 20, but they probably can’t be relied upon to beat the opposition this time around.

The Canucks, meanwhile, snapped out of a lengthy nine-game losing streak (that saw them shut out four times) to defeat the Sharks and Ducks back-to-back. They have four games left, which could see them pick up a maximum 79 points. The games are fairly winnable for the most part, too: one against the Kings, two against the Oilers, and… one against the Flames, which is going to get rather interesting.

The Blue Jackets currently sit at 70 points and with four games remaining, can finish with a maximum possible of 78. The games are against the Rangers, Leafs, Sabres, and Blackhawks: most of which could actually be winnable (the Rangers are floundering, the Leafs and Sabres are bad, the Blackhawks have clinched a top-three spot in the Central).

Then there’s the Leafs who, we established earlier, can finish with a maximum 75 points. They face the Panthers, Jackets, Flyers, and Devils to close things out: a team that just clinched a post-season berth, a bad team, a team that will probably be fighting to the very end to clinch a playoff spot, and a team that’s already eliminated. They’ve been pretty unpredictable as of late; don’t underestimate Mike Babcok’s abilities to get his team to accomplish something, even as the season ends.

If you want the Flames to finish with the best possible lottery odds, you’re cheering for these four teams to win every game they can (and for the Jackets-Leafs games to be a three-pointer). Except all it will take are two more Leaf losses to put 29th place out of reach for Calgary, so they’re on the brink, there.

What could happen?

I’m playing a guessing game now; feel free to join in on the comments with your own theories. I’m guessing Winnipeg picks up two more points this season, Vancouver four, Columbus three, and Toronto two. That would make the standings thus:

  • Vancouver: 75 points
  • Winnipeg: 74 points
  • Columbus: 73 points
  • Calgary: 72 points
  • Toronto: 69 points

I’m leaving the Flames at 72 points in assuming they lose to the Kings and the Wild… but I haven’t acknowledged the Canucks-Flames game yet.

A win there would see the Flames jump from third last up to fifth last, passing Winnipeg; a loss would give them the third-best lottery odds in this scenario. That’s how tight things could get.

But let’s step back for a second and assume Vancouver picks up just two points. They have a home and home with Edmonton; maybe the Oilers, like, try or something in their final game at Rexall. That would have Vancouver sitting at 73 points, just above Calgary: and that Canucks-Flames game becomes that much more important.

As things stand right now, it’s easiest to see the Flames falling somewhere in between having the third and sixth best lottery odds. That could have them picking as high as first overall, or as low as ninth. We’ll see as this week plays out.

    • T&A4Flames

      Then have the ‘nucks beat up EDM 2x and they still finish ahead of us with 75 points and us with 74. We could at least just allow the game go to OT and then the Canucks would get 76 points.

    • Jake the Snail

      ..with Shinkaruk netting a hattie against the team that gave him ONE game in the bigs! The Vancouver phone lines will be buzzing with hate of Benning..

  • al rain

    Everyone wants a good draft pick but I find this sickening.

    Look, losing is losing and it becomes a habit. Excellence is what you want, and that doesn’t happen over night.

    Let’s take I dunno, the Oilers for example? Why do they suck? Probably for no reason more than because they’ve always sucked. They’ll never get a good return on trading guys because they’re all losers with a habit of losing. And the longer they’ve been on that team the less they’re worth.

    Edmonton is our natural rival, a couple hours away, they’ve been sucking for a decade on an epic scale. We have no excuses not to grasp what’s going on there. What exactly do you need to see to understand this?

    Cheering for losing for a slightly better draft position, to get one guy to add to an existing team? WTF?

    If you need something to cheer for, cheer for progression towards excellence. Enough with the tank talk. We’re better than them.

    • deantheraven

      Exactly. Nobody wants to lose around here. You see it every game. Thank Gawd our team has pride, but we’ll never call ourselves “The City of Champions” (remember that?)
      And it doesn’t matter really because The Flames have bought all kinds of Good Karma this season. October without Brodie, returned favours to all Pacific Division leaders for winning the all season series last year (except the Ducks because they were and always will be Mighty vs The Flames, which also counts for Karma) , The Wideman Sanction, Johnny Hockey doing the NHL a solid by showing the world why 3-on-3 is awesome at the All Star Game, the curb- stomping of the Oil at Rexall one last time…

      Yes, The Flames are destined to get the first pick.Unless of course the Hockey Gods decide the Russel trade = karma paid in full… Boy, wouldn’t it be swell if Dallas goes deep and Russel plays every game? The we’d have the first and the twenty-something pick in the first round! Think positive!

    • hulkingloooooob

      here here! you put oil in a tank, not fire. fire you let burn!

      burn em boys….we’re getting a good player who might just be able to help us right away no matter what happens with these last 3 games.

      go flames go!

  • freethe flames

    The Flames could win all 3 or they could lose all 3. A lot depends on who BH plays in net. Ortio vs LA, Hiller vs Vancouver, Backstrom vs Minny is what the morning show was on about.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      Do Hiller and Backstrom even want to play again? I suppose their competitive juices may make them want to end on a non-humiliated note, but I’m not counting on it.

      • Jake the Snail

        not entirely…but the three goalie abortion in October when all three played worse than the team in front of them was a big factor…then Ortio was sent down. Ramo was able to turn his season around by finally taking the goalie coaches advice to not play deep in his net. But Hiller just kept playing worse and the team had no confidence in him stopping anything if they made a mistake or even if they didn’t.

          • WildfireOne

            Agreed. Ramo’s problem was over committing. Hiller was the exact opposite – he plays so far into his own net he’d be behind the goal judge if that was possible. Don’t know how many times I wished I could amalgamate Hiller and Ramo in October…

  • ville de champignons

    Ok. But we really don’t need a FOA pick this year. Last year would have been a good year for that but we all know what happened. This year the Flames could do as well by trading whatever pick they get if the return package has the right mix of talent and youth. I am actually hoping the oilers draft FOA again, if only because it will make watching their impotent suckage so much more satisfying. (Strange words indeed from a fan who was hoping for a high draft pick since about game 30 or so.)

  • RKD

    If we have strong goaltending then it doesn’t really matter who we draft. If we don’t fix the goaltending then having Matthews or one of the Finns doesn’t guarantee us a post-season berth. If we have goaltending we make the playoffs. Losing against the Kings and Minny is a real possibility, Vancouver has been really poor so it’s hard to lose to them even if you try.