The 2017 Playoff Chase: the second half begins

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.


Blackhawks 44 27 59 .670 25 CEN 99.7%
Wild 40 26 57 .713 25 CEN 100%
Ducks 44 23 54 .614 21 PAC 94.8%
Sharks 42 25 52 .619 23 PAC 98.8%
Oilers 44 22 51 .580 20 PAC 90.2%
Flames 44 23 48 .545 21 PAC 57.8%
Blues 42 21 47 .560 20 CEN 63.5%
Kings 42 21 46 .548 20 PAC 79.8%
Canucks 44 20 45 .511 16 PAC 13.6%
Predators 42 19 45 .536 18 CEN 64.2%
Stars 43 18 44 .512 18 CEN 19.4%
Jets 44 20 43 .489 18 CEN 18.2%
Coyotes 40 12 30 .375 8 PAC 0.0%
Avalanche 40 13 27 .338 13 PAC 0.0%

(Chances courtesy Sports Club Stats.)

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.


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).


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.

  • Lucky 13

    Hmm that’s interesting … thanks Ryan

    I believe at American Thanksgiving (Nov 24?) which is the benchmark of testing the waters to see if we’re playoff bound, we were sitting 2nd last in the Western Conference with 19 points / 22 games played and just over 40% win percentage!

    Now 48 points/ 44 games and win percentage of .545
    That’s a huge improvement over 22 games!
    Most improved in our Conference over that span, I’d say.

    I like our chances even if 10 other teams are over .500 percentage wise.

  • The Fall

    Someone is going to have to explain the “Chances” column…
    42 games to play and the Wild are 100% in playoffs?
    Two games in had on the Kings is equally to 22% greater chance of making the playoffs?

    • Toofun

      I haven’t read their process but I understand they include factors like “quality of remaining competition”, “home/away games” and some advanced stats in their calculations.

      Kings generally do well in any type of corsi-based forecast model.

  • Lucky 13

    Statistics are weird aren’t they? For example, (as of today) Sports Club Stats has Calgary finishing 9th in the Conference with LA Kings, Nashville and St. Louis taking the 6th-8th spot respectively. Oil take 5th spot?

    However, if Calgary wins tonight, we bump our odds of being in the playoffs to

    Vancouver fans would love this site, if projects them finishing 3rd last, just above Coyotes and Avalanche..

    I say our Flames boys should post this on their wall as incentive to make these stats guys eat crow!

  • jakethesnail

    A comparison of first half versus second half of the Flames schedule every week would also be interesting.

    By my calendar the Flames are 3 games into the second half of the season.

    First half start: 0-2-1 – 1 point
    Second half start: 2-1-0 -4 points

    The season started with the Flames at 1-4-1 – 3-points in the first SIX games. Ahead of that already!

    If the Flames play better than they did in the first 20 games (now that wouldn’t be hard)and match the second 20/21 games of the first half the Flames retain a playoff spot!

    Of course, this all depends on a healthy team!

    Another note of optimism: Mony, Benny and TJ have a big upside over their first half and of course Johnny is starting to come around…

  • Armchair genius

    And so the second half slide begins, this team has been gifted with a soft schedule and will soon be on the outside looking in. Arminanus will only be able to post when he trolls the oilers site after losses, huh, what a sad life he leads in moms basement.