Friends, if you have a calendar and the National Hockey League standings in front of you then you’ve probably made a staggering realization. We’re into the second half of the 2016-17 schedule and the Calgary Flames are in a playoff spot.
As long as the Flames are in the playoff conversation, we’re debuting a weekly feature here for the second half where we look at where the local sports team is among their peers.
WHERE THEY STAND
The Flames begin the weekend eighth in the Western Conference in points percentage and sixth in terms of points earned (which is how we’ve sorted the table for simplicity’s sake). Until the games remaining begin to dwindle, points percentage is probably the more important metric to look at (especially given the disparities in games played by each club).
The Flames can leap-frog the Oilers this week with a couple wins, particularly on Saturday night. The next two Hockey Night in Canada meetings are huge for each team’s playoff chances and eventual placement. If you want to be blunt about it, there are nine teams that have a good shot at the postseason and only eight spots. All the Flames have to be is not-last among that group.
If the playoffs began today, adjusting for games played differences (e.g., using points percentage for seeding), the Flames would be in the second wildcard slot and play against the Minnesota Wild in the Central Division side of the bracket.
For the next while, we’ll use 89 points as the cutoff for a playoff berth (as it’s the first scenario in the Sports Club Stats projections that has the Flames at a larger than 50% probability of a playoff spot). The Flames need to earn 41 points over their remaining 38 games to hit that mark.
THIS PAST WEEK
Since last Friday the Flames have played four in-conference games. They split a pair of games with the Canucks, lost to Winnipeg and beat San Jose. The Sharks game was probably the most composed they’ve looked with a lead in weeks (aside from the late chances they gave up).
THIS COMING WEEK
The Flames play four games this week: two against the West and two against the East. They play New Jersey tonight, Edmonton on Saturday, Florida on Tuesday and Nashville on Thursday.
The Devils are the worst team in the East. Florida is about as good as Calgary, possession-wise. Edmonton and Nashville are teams ahead of them in terms of puck possession, but those are also the games that will help them the most if they can win them. Nashville, in particular, is the team among the nine-team playoff pack most vulnerable to falling out of the mix.