Despite playing bad hockey throughout October, the Calgary Flames are in the midst of a playoff race with roughly a third of the season to go. The bad news is they’re up against three other teams for just three playoff spots.
The Flames, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and Los Angeles Kings are vying for three playoff spots in the Western Conference. They all have roughly the same number of games left. How do their games remaining compare to each other? Who has the easiest schedule? The toughest?
Let’s dive in!
A Fancy Chart
(This chart excludes Saturday games.)
Currently in third place in the Central Division. They have 61 points and are two points up on Calgary.
St. Louis has 26 games left, with a strong skew towards road games and games against Western Conference opponents. They have the easiest schedule in terms of opponents’ points percentage, facing opponents who are going an average of .501 – this is bulked up with three games against Arizona and four against Colorado. If they can take care of business against the lowly teams, life could be easy for them down the stretch.
Now, before you go penciling the Blues into the post-season note that they have four sets of back-to-back games (and three of them involve travel).
Currently in the first wildcard spot. They have 60 points and are one point up on Calgary.
Nashville has 27 games left, split fairly evenly between home and road games. They have almost as many games against Eastern teams as against Western teams, which means three-point games aren’t nearly as scary for them. They have a relatively tough schedule ahead – their opponents average a .569 points percentage – and only a pair of games against Arizona and Colorado.
The Predators also have four sets of back-to-backs remaining, in addition to a pair of games against Florida and Dallas this weekend. The scarier thing for the Preds is that three of their four back-to-backs involve travel between games.
Currently in the second wildcard spot. They have 60 points and are one point up on Calgary.
Los Angeles has 27 games left, skewed fairly heavily towards home games and Western Conference opponents. They’re facing opponents with an average .545 points percentage, and they have three games against Arizona and one against Colorado. The Kings may be hurt even further by having six sets of back-to-backs remaining. Half of them involve travel outside of the state of California. Two of the Kings’ four games against the Flames are on nights when the Flames are rested and the Kings play the previous night (in another city).
Currently third in the wildcard race, just outside of a playoff spot. They have 59 points.
Calgary has 26 games left, skewed slightly towards home games. They have almost as many games left against Eastern teams as against Western teams which, again, may help them in the context of three-point games not being quite as painful for them. They’re facing opponents with an average .548 points percentage and have one game left against each of Arizona and Colorado. The schedule’s not easy, but the Flames have the fewest back-to-backs of any of the teams in this group with just one remaining (in Florida against the Lightning and Panthers).
Sum It Up
The Flames aren’t going to just walk into the playoffs, but as you can see here, between scheduling, opponents and a beautiful lack of back-to-back games they’re going to be in pretty good shape. If they can take care of their own business – particularly against Western Conference opponents – they should be in the race until the very end.