Just how low could the Flames finish this season?

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.

THE TIEBREAKERS

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)

GP
Pts
ROW
Max
Pts
Max
ROW
Season Series (Remaining)
Chicago 64 83 38 119 56 1-1-0 (Mar. 26, home)
Dallas 65 83 36 117 53 2-1-0
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)
FLAMES 63 56 24 94 43

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.

GP
Pts
ROW
Max
Pts
Max
ROW
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)
FLAMES 63 56 24 94 43
Winnipeg 62 56 24 96 44 1-1-0 (Mar. 16, home)
Buffalo 64 58 24 94 42 1-0-0 (Mar. 3, road)
Columbus 64 60 21 96 39 1-1-0
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.

  • RedMan

    My bold predictions on how it will play out at the draft:

    1) Flames finish 27th, but win the lottery, pick first overall.

    2) Flames trade first overall for 2nd overall pick and in so doing pick up 2 mid to late first round picks and a solid blue-chip prospect.

    3) Flames flip the two acquired mid to late first round picks and a 2nd rounder, plus 2 significant prospects (i.e. Porier or Jon Gillies, and the prospect acquired for the 1st) for the 3rd overall pick.

    4) having the 2nd and 3rd picks, the flames pick up two Finns…

    Bonus prediction:

    2017-2018, Flames win the division, lose in conference final, and then win it all the following year.

  • freethe flames

    BPA except a goalie in the first 2 rounds. However lets remember who we think is the BPA is not always the same thing s their draft team thinks. What would be nice is if the BPA happens to fall into their needs. And to be quite frank this organization needs everything. We have come a long ways in building the organizations since the decision was made but it’s not like we are gushing with NHL ready players at any position; if we were guys like Engalnd would not be playing in the top 4 and guys like Bollig would not even be on the team. We do have some prospects that we are quite high on at D Anderson and Hickey are in my mind the top 2 but Kulak and TSpoon are the most ready and I am not quite sure what to make of Kylington. I often hear people speak of abundance of centers and think really? We have Monahan and Bennett as a 1/2, Backs as a 3, and Stajan as an aging 4. Are any of the AHL guys really ready; would anyone beat their jobs on it. None are high end. We may think Arnold and Grant are ready but are they?

    • everton fc

      Bouma can play centre. Colborne can play centre. Jooris can play centre.

      Hamilton appears to be more “ready” than Arnold. Elson may be more “ready” than Arnold, and they are basically the same size, with Elson showing more offensive promise. So we do have a bit of depth in the pivot, but the top 3, Monahan, Bennett and Backlund, need to be our three down the middle for some time. I think we have three of the best young centres in the game, with these three.

      I personally hope Elson earns a call-up. I like his game.

  • everton fc

    Two out of the “Q” that wouldn’t be bad here;

    Julien Gauthier of Val d’Or and Pierre-Luc Debois with Cape Breton. Both can score. Both are taller than 6’2″, both weigh more than 200 lbs.

    After Round 1 Max Jones out of London would be an interesting pick.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Hope Tzachuk didn’t inherit the old man’s indifferent work habits. The old man could be an absolute beast in a shift but in the next shift, he looked like the last place he wanted to be was on the ice. Never a fan of a guy with a great skill set but not the gumption to use it to the maximum.

    Other than the ability to thread pucks through the eye of a needle form 90 feet, there isn’t much of Michael Nylander’s game that I hope his kid picked up. Wonder how the old man would fare in today’s NHL?

    The Finns have the size to play the physical game, but do they have the spirit? The ice is a whole lot smaller and the players a whole lot bigger and tougher in the NHL.

    Let’s say the Flames win out and get 1st pick and the Coyotes offer them the Gold Dust twins for this year’s “generational talent.” Do the Flames bite?

    I suppose any of the 5 will be a solid pick now, but in 5 years hence, how many of the Fab 5 will still be fab?

    I wonder if there is a dark horse out there who is going to blow the doors off the barn in perhaps the CHL playoffs and stride into the top 5?

  • KiLLKiND

    To me anyone in the 4-7 range could be taken by any of those teams before that the top 3 are set. You can argue the merits of any of the players in that range if we pick there. Another option is trade back to 1-12 range I can see a player falling out of the top 10 again for for some reason and Calgary could pick up a fantastic player while potentially gaining a late 1st early 2nd.

  • Kevin R

    I am just hoping we the get the highest pick this year in Franchise history.
    I don’t mind Hartley starting as coach next year but he will be on a short leash that’s for sure. That Murray kid looked decent against Washington in net last night.

  • nikkomsgb

    They will always pick the best player available. Burke mentioned on the Fan 960 a year or two ago, before the draft, that picking by position is a “fire-able offense”. So Treliving isn’t going to deviate from that.

    That said I suppose it makes sense. Take the best player available then you presumably have the most coveted asset.

    Fingers crossed the luck is with us this time.

    • Parallex

      Sometimes it makes sense.

      I mean… Yakupov was the consensus BPA his year but I thought the Oilers should have taken Murray given how bad their org depth at D was. How much less bad would that team look now if they’d done that?

  • Truculence

    I don’t know why Pierre-Luc Dubois doesn’t get as much attention as some of the other forwards. Despite being one of the youngest players in this upcoming draft, he is fourth in QJMHL scoring and is already 6″3 200. He absolutely dominated the prospects game, and can play the game any which way you want. He is one of the smartest hockey players I have ever seen and has a never-say-die attitude to go along with an elite-shot.

    If the big finns are gone, Calgary should look at this kid, as he has the same upside.

    Oh, and he has been playing center all year in the Q.

    • Baalzamon

      I don’t know why Pierre-Luc Dubois doesn’t get as much attention as some of the other forwards. Despite being one of the youngest players in this upcoming draft, he is fourth in QJMHL scoring and is already 6″3 200.

      That’s probably why. He’s almost certainly not going to get any bigger than he is now, so will he be able to translate his game to higher levels when he isn’t the biggest kid on the playground?

      That said, I’m tempted to say I’d prefer him to Tkachuk. At least he’s actually leading his team in scoring.

      • Truculence

        But, by the same token, are the Finns any better playing against mediocre hockey players -albeit men?

        Plus, he probably will actually get bigger since he doesn’t turn 18 till late June. His point totals given his age are very, very impressive.

        Also, Dubois is a typical power forward in that he drives to the net with abandon and uses his size effectively. But his game is much more complex than that. He can thread passes with the best of them, and plays a 200 foot game. He is not a one-dimensional player that relies solely on size.

        • Tomas Oppolzer

          Yes, they will. The size argument is valid for Dubois because he’s playing against significantly smaller competition. Because of that, he’s able to impose his will more easily. The Finns, however, are playing against men. Their size isn’t an advantage in that league like it is in the CHL.

          • Truculence

            O.K., I don’t want to make this into a thread based on the merits of drafting Dubois, but how do we know Laine is not riding the coattails of his line-mates -you know, other men. There are 8 players on that team with 30+ points (Laine has 33 points), with the leading scorer having 54.

            Dubois, in contrast, is leading his teammates (who are just teenagers like him, but older)in points by a country mile.

            Also, the Finnish league, with it’s big ice surfaces, does not actually engender a very physical brand of hockey at all that is comparable to the NHL or AHL. Being physically stronger and bigger, in other words, does not have the same advantages as it does in the latter leagues.

            Plus, I’ve watched Dubois’ games a few times this year, and he is just as adept at making fine passing plays and sniping shots as he is at working the boards and barreling to the net. You guys seem to be pigeon-holing him into a particular role without it seems haveing actually watched how he accumulates his points. He has a very high hockey-IQ.

            Finally, I remember commentators on this site going through the same debate of whether Euro leagues or the CHL are a better indicator of elite talent a couple of years ago with regards to Monahan and Lindholm.

            I think Carolina must be kicking themselves for having chosen the latter, as his scoring tough has yet to materialize.

  • Denscafon

    I would love to draft one the fins as a big skilled RW is exactly what the flames are missing on the top line. If we win the draft though we have to pick Matthews but then there’s an even bigger log jam at center and either Bennett plays wing or backlund is probably traded which to me would suck but would be necessary. It also doesnt solve who would play beside matthews/monahan/Bennett. But ya hoping for a top 3 pick, top 5 wouldn’t be bad either though.

  • MattyFranchise

    Well after last night’s game this is the first time all season that the Flames have finished a 7 game segment with only 1 win and three points total.

    So… right on track.

        • King Quong

          Probably because Centres can be converted and typically have more value than Wingers. I’d argue only a top 2 dman would have more value than a top center. Also you can usually convert a centre to the wing if you’ve got a log jam down the middle. Iginla was drafted as a centre actually.

  • brodiegio4life

    I’m just hoping for at least a top 5 pick. The flames desperately need high end forwards and the top of this years draft is full of them. Matthews, puljujarvi, laine, tkachuk, or nylander would be so very nice

    • Backburner

      I know the Flames could really use any of those high end forwards.. but I think they will take a serious look at Jakob Chychrun if they are picking in the top 5. That guys is a beast. A Franchise Defenseman.

      This will probably be Calgary’s best chance to win the draft lottery in franchise history.. obviously Matthews would be amazing.. but I’m really excited about the quality of players available in the top 5 this year.

      This draft should really give the Flames that complimentary piece to accelerate the rebuild.

      • FlamesRock

        We already have a franchise defensemen. ie. TJ brodie and depending on a persons opinion Hamiliton. We need wingers or Matthews if we select first, not more defencemen!

          • Baalzamon

            I would agree. If the Flames are picking, say, fourth, I think it pretty much has to be Chychrun.

            I’d take either Chychrun or Nylander over Tkachuk, anyway.

          • supra steve

            Agreed. By the way…when did you stop behaving like a major D-bag? As long as you have thoughtful and relevant opinions, like you have had lately, you’re welcome here. The odd Oiler/Flame rivalry comment is still expected, because you are an Oiler fan.

            But man, what would that do for the rivalry if the Flames scored another major talent at forward, and the Oil finally land a stud D-man?