The 2017 Playoff Chase: Free falling

Welcome to the third week of our Western Conference playoff race coverage. The Calgary Flames are still in the playoff mix, but they’ve basically burnt off any breathing room they once had.

Let’s check out the race.

WHERE THEY STAND

Team
GP
W
Pts
Pct
ROW
Div
Chances % Change
Wild 48 32 69 .719 30 CEN 100% none
Blackhawks 51 30 65 .637 28 CEN 99.4% down 0.1
Sharks 50 31 64 .640 29 PAC 99.8% up 0.2
Oilers 51 28 64 .627 25 PAC 99.7% up 3.0
Ducks 51 27 63 .618 25 PAC 97.8% down 0.7
Predators 49 24 56 .571 22 CEN 89.1% up 17.1
Blues 49 24 53 .541 23 CEN 66.5% down 3.1
Flames 52 25 53 .510 23 PAC 26.0% down 24.1
Kings 49 24 52 .531 23 PAC 79.4% up 6.7
Canucks 50 23 52 .520 19 PAC 14.8% down 3.6
Jets 52 23 50 .481 21 CEN 13.1% up 0.5
Stars 50 20 50 .500 20 CEN 14.5% up 4.2
Coyotes 48 16 38 .396 12 PAC 0.0% none
Avalanche 46 13 28 .304 13 PAC 0.0% none

(Chances courtesy Sports Club Stats.)

The Flames head into the All-Star Break eighth in the Western Conference in points earned and 10th in points percentage. They’ve played more games than any other Western club – Winnipeg has also played 52 games – and so the danger for them is other clubs using up their games in hand. Oh, and three-point games. Those will absolutely sink the Flames.

If the playoffs began today, the Flames would be starting against Minnesota (if you judge by point totals) or golfing (if you judge by points percentage).

THIS PAST WEEK

The Flames were not great this week. They captured two of a possible eight points. And the six points they didn’t get, they looked awful not getting. They lost 7-3 to Edmonton, 4-0 to Toronto and 5-1 to Montreal. They finally got on the board with a 3-2 overtime win in Ottawa.

THIS COMING WEEK

The Flames are off for most of the next week due to the All-Star Break. They play just one game this week, but it could be a potential playoff preview. They host the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday. Hopefully the break and a fresh start allows the team to reset and come out guns blazing after the All-Star Game.

  • Will

    Pretty tight race going on in the west for last two wild cards. Calgary and st Louis with 53, La and Van with 52, and both Dallas and Winnipeg with 50.

    Six teams, three points, two spots. Who will it be?

    • I am Batman

      St. Louis and LA.

      LA is in the position they’re in because Quick is injured, but they have a great team.

      St. Louis is far better than their latest showings and if their goalies get it together, they’re gone up to third or second in the Central.

      If the flames are going to make it, it is Nashville who they need to beat, they’re the most vulnerable ones of that bunch.

  • freethe flames

    By Feb 18 we will have a good idea as to whether or not this team remains in the playoff hunt as the teams with games in hands should more our less be caught up. We have 7 games between the end of the allstar break and then; 3 against clear playoff teams (Min/NYR/Pit), 3 against other bubble teams(NJD,PHI,Van) and 1 against non playoff teams Ari. So the question for me is what should BT do?

    Should he look to add pieces that make them better for the race for a wildcard place? If he could do so without destroying our limited prospect pool or top draft picks then I would be okay with that. But in order to get what we need; 2 forwards that would be an upgrade in our top 9, an upgrade in our bottom 3 defenders and a more consistent netminder I doubt it can be done. I would be happy if he got 1 upgrade at forward and 1 of the other 2 positions examined.

    Or should he be a seller? We don’t have a lot to offer but there are always teams looking to add depth for their playoff dreams. On D we have 4 guys we should be trying to move; 2 with NHL playoff experience that could add depth for an organization in the “win now” mode those being Engs and Wides. The other are JJ and Spoon guys who could add depth to an organization. All are FA at the end of the season and none are of significant importance to the Flames. Up front there is Versteeg who may have some trade value for a team looking to “win now”. He is also a rental. Two guys who are not rentals are Stajan and Bouma but they only have 1 year left on their contracts but might help a team depth out. The other guy I would trade but I doubt is trade able is Brouwer who IMO is a total bust but a team that is in “win now” might look at his playoffs from last year and be willing to bite the bullet.

    Again by the 18th we should know where this team is. I would love to see us make the playoffs but I don’t want to sell the future out to get there.

    • cjc

      I’m not sure the picture will be any clearer by the TDL. In any case, it’s probably not the time to make a big move unless a stupidly good offer comes from a non-playoff team trying to avoid losing a player for nothing in the expansion draft. Treliving doesn’t have any Russels, Hudlers or Glencrosses to work with this year, so I expect a quiet day.

      Caveat: If management tells Treliving an extension depends on him making the playoffs, but I doubt that.

      Brouwer has a NTC, doubt he would waive it unless he was going to a true Stanley Cup contender. But even still that term basically makes him immovable.

      • freethe flames

        If we go 5-2 it is clear that we are likely in it to the end; if we 2-5 it likely means we are on the outside watching. I agree with the Brouwer statement that he is immovable that does not make it impossible just highly unlikely. What I’m hoping for is an article and a rational discussion on what people think the Flames could, should do during this 5 week period. As I said earlier a lot depends on where we fit @the 18th. 3 options in my mind:

        a. Status quo; move the uFA’s you can for draft picks and see if the core can get us into the playoffs. If they do great(experience for the future) if not no big issue.

        b. Make a move for a play off spot; be buyers trying to address one or more the obvious short comings of this squad. But don’t overpay in doing so. Rentals are okay only if you are giving up rentals along the way.

        c. Realize you are on the outside with little chance of making it and sell the assets you have for draft picks.

        BT needs to position this team for the expansion draft and next season. I for one am having a difficult time choosing 7 forwards that are essential for us to keep. Here are my 5 Sam, the two mikes, Johnny and Monny. That’s it. Everyone one else is a question mark. I like Ferland and when he plays his game he is great but he has yet to prove to me that he is a top 9 forward. My opinion on Brouwer is quite clear; he has been a huge disappointment. The rest are replacement level with maybe the exception of Stajan who has been better this year than I had expected. Neither goalie has earned my trust and the 3 defenders are no brainers.

        If BT could somehow add a forward who could fit the top 7 before the protected list had to be submitted I would be happy.

        • The Fall

          Flames are ‘sellers’. (Wideman / Chaisson). We can expect a push once they’re out the door. The goal this year is to get another taste of the playoffs with this group and see who can raise their game when it matters.

          • freethe flames

            I would add Engs, Versteeg and one of the goalies as a back up for some team. I had completely forgotten about Chaisson as a UFA. What can be gotten for these guys?

          • The Fall

            I would re-up Ends and Versteeg for different reasons.

            If the Flames continue the tailspin, they should be shopping a goalie at the TDL to the Habs. That team is will not go far without Price and they will pay with picks.

            Wideman does have a target on his back. But honestly, the young Matt and Sam are to blame for most of the calls against them. Wideman is a right shot D who can (could) score — there will be interest.

          • Primo

            Mr. Fall…name me one reason why you would re-up Versteeg? Please no not include the dressing room leadership garbage…I cannot recall one game or game winning goal that was as a result of past championships or leadership in the dressing room…….

          • The Fall

            He can enter the offensive zone and make a pass without giving away the puck. That’s more praise than I can give to several of the The Flames forwards.

          • freethe flames

            Can you not trade both Engs and Versteeg and resign them in the off season? Versteeg does not excite me. Engs as a resign if the price is low enough as a 6/7 then I would be okay with this. But I could see a “win now” team seeing him as good insurance and a good locker room guy. Versteeg may be seen as that same kind of guy. The returns will not be high. Wides may also be moved based upon your rational but I agree with others that he is a harder sell.

          • Nobody wants Wideman, even for free. Too many phantom calls and non calls whether he is on the ice or not. Not a Flames fan, but the officials have been hosing the Flames this year, and we all know what it is related to. Nobody is going to want him on their backend during the Playoffs . Too risky that the linesman are still looking for revenge. It is petty and small minded, and makes the league look amateurish to the surprise of no one.

    • RedMan

      With the flames needing to win 2 of every 3 games, it’s safe to say we already know where they are at, not need to wait. Yes, they could go on a long winning streak. Sure. I’m not holding my breath though.

      on the other hand, as disappointing as it is to see the Oil finally win a few against the good guys, the fact is this is a team rebuilding, and are actually most likely where they had hoped they would be at this stage – on the cusp of making the playoffs.

    • Primo

      Intellect was never a strong characteristic of Oiler fans..especially this Train guy who has numerous names on this website…get a life…go to school…get a job.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      The Oilers are a goalie injury away from missing the playoffs. Talbot has played more games (45 of 51) than any other goalie. Keep on winning while you can. The games only get tougher and the grind of playing 70+ games takes its toll on goalies not used to it. His career high is 56.

      I find it interesting how the chart predicts the likelyhood of a playoff berth by using points percentage. It’s as good an estimate tool as anything, but does not take into account who you play. It the Flames beat LA or NASH in the majority of games played, then you have effectively taken 4 points from that team. Every western conference game takes on a bigger meaning.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      The Oilers are a goalie injury away from missing the playoffs. Talbot has played more games (45 of 51) than any other goalie. Keep on winning while you can. The games only get tougher and the grind of playing 70+ games takes its toll on goalies not used to it. His career high is 56.

      I find it interesting how the chart predicts the likelyhood of a playoff berth by using points percentage. It’s as good an estimate tool as anything, but does not take into account who you play. It the Flames beat LA or NASH in the majority of games played, then you have effectively taken 4 points from that team. Every western conference game takes on a bigger meaning.

      • Ogie Oglethorp

        This comment is fake news. See comment #12

        It DOES heavily factor who you play. And that’s why LA, 1pt behind us, has a 55% higher playoff odds.

    • Ogie Oglethorp

      Yeah, it’s in our hands. That last 6 games of the season is frightening though.

      LA twice
      SJ twice
      ANA twice

      All in about 10 days. Yikes…Gotta make up some ground quick. Surprisingly St Louis may be the target here… LA is just too good to drop, and they have the easiest schedule – reflected in their 80% chance of making the playoffs despite being 1 pt behind us.

        • Ogie Oglethorp

          Yes, it does.

          As per their website “The weighted method takes the opponents record and home field advantage into account when randomly picking scores, so the better team is more likely to win.”

          You can switch to 50/50 mode which doesn’t factor in quality of competition, home/away or back to backs. In 50/50 mode our % goes up to 35% and LA down to 53%

        • STIXLER

          Just curious what you base your idea that the Flames are better? Flames got swept, worse goal differential, less points, worse points percentage….
          Your world class defence is not playing like one. Goaltending…tire fire and as an Oilers fan I recognize a goaltending tire fire.

          • Raphael De La Ghetto

            I dont fully understand how the flames are the better team. Oilers are CLOSER in point to a presidents trophy then they are to missing the playoffs. Flames are struggling to win 2 games an a row. Next………….

        • I am Batman

          Better than whom??? Almost two thirds into the season stats say the Flames are worse than other 17 teams in the league.

          Among those 17 teams that are better are the Oilers, Sharks and Ducks…. so I’m having trouble seeing the logic as how or on what are the flames better.

          This isn’t my opinion, its facts, check it out for yourself in NHL.com, standings

  • The Fall

    Speaking of stupid: the Flames play 14 games in March. Nearly every other day for almost 5 weeks straight.

    Good thing the World Cup was so worth it for the fans…

  • Greg

    There’s something dubious about how they calculate those odds. 40% gap between 8th and 9th, and 24% swings in one week, when there’s still 1/3 of the season to go? They shouldn’t be that unstable until the last few weeks.

    Although I still check them all the time too 😉

    • 24% body fat

      actually there isnt. It is math. And while you may be right it seems weird, and that one team losing and one team winning can change all that. These odds are based on the course of the year how the team has played, mixed with their schedule and the likeliness of them getting points.

      So it basically there is this percent chance that this team plays well enough and the other teams above them play bad enough that they will make the playoff.

  • Himynameistaylor

    Just another reminder, the Oilers bandwagon has plenty of room! Renounce your ties to the Flames, join the good guys. First place in the division is pretty sweet!

  • Newbietwo

    MAKE trades and take the draft picks and move onto next year.. it is pointless to care about play offs unless you think you actually have a shot at winning the cup during play offs

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Compare points this year with their pay. Versteeg is doing very well for what he makes. Keep him if he’s cheap. Engellend ain’t having a bad year either. Not 3.5$m a year good though

    • freethe flames

      This is a rather illogical reason for keeping them. What needs to be discussed is how do they contribute to the team and are they replaceable. In both cases I would say they are replaceable.

      • dontcryWOLF88

        Just because you don’t agree with it, does not make it illogical.

        Having budget players, who still bring in plenty of points, frees up cap space for other more impact full players.

        What is your beef with those two players? Give me some evidence, ie logic, to suggest they arnt worth keeping.

        • freethe flames

          My belief is you can trade them for something and if they are what you want then you resign them. Eng’s has been better this year but at $3m is an overpayment for 5-7 D. Versteeg disappoints me because I only see the occasional shift from him and that is not enough regardless of his pay. A slightly better version of Mason Raymond. I do get your general argument of having players on value salaried but I don’t see Engs as value contract nor Versteeg but that’s my opinion.

          • dontcryWOLF88

            That’s your eye test answer. Look at the stats. Both are doing fairly good, arguably just as good as some of the players making 6-7 times more in the case of Versteeg.

            Eg. Brodie : -22. Engellend: +4

          • freethe flames

            Plus minus are not the best stats. Would you rather have Engs or Brodie at the salaries they are making? I would choose Brodie every time. How many of Versteegs’ points are 5 on 5? I guess my real point is that if we want to reach a higher level then we need to get better than Versteeg as a top 6/9 forward. I’m sure the fancy stats guys could tell us all about these two players fancy stats but it is unlikely to sway me. If we can trade them and use the results to get better then I am for that.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    That’s a big ‘if’ bud. Don’t forget it would have to be someone making under 1mil for versteeg. Otherwise we max out the cap.

    Nobody is saying Brodie OR Engellend. And yeah, I’ll take Brodie any day as well. I think he’s having a weird year and that this will normalize for him. However, I think Engellend is just fine in his role as the number 5 D man. His cap hit next year would be fair in the 1-2mil range,, depending how he closes off the year.

    You can say trade all day long. Reality is you need someone A) wants them. B) is willing to give up something more valuable to get them. Trading across or down is pointless. Just brings in someone who now needs to learn the system and culture from scratch m8dseason. Meet all those conditions? Sure, do it. But, don’t hold your breath that’s going to happen until summer.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Yeah man, this is how it goes. I dont come here to agree with everyone, that would be very boring, in fact.

    I also completely understand your reference by saying “it was at least talking hockey”. That will come back to FN forums soon enough I think. Just like win streaks never last forever, neither do slumps. if the slump is over then genuine hockey talk will come right back.

  • Just.Visiting

    I stay with the core, hold a goalie, Ferland, Kulak and Hathaway. Otherwise, I’m open to hearing what people to to offer for depth going into their playoff run.

    I’m more interested in getting prospects in return, rather than more depth players. Ideally, I’d like to bundle some of our players for fewer bodies coming back in the hope of getting a better prospect.

    I’m also backfilling from Stockton so that we understand what we have and allow those players to get a foundation of NHL experience, so that they can prepare optimally in the summer with a better sense of what it takes to succeed.