The 2017 Playoff Chase: back from the bye

Welcome to the sixth week of our Western Conference playoff race coverage. The Calgary Flames have completed their five day bye period and are back for their stretch drive. Despite their idleness, the standings didn’t change a heck of a lot around them.

Let’s check out the race as we begin the weekend!

WHERE THEY STAND

Team
GP
W
Pts
Pct
ROW
Div
Chances % Change
Wild 57 38 82 .719 35 CEN 100% none
Blackhawks 57 35 75 .658 33 CEN 100% none
Sharks 58 34 74 .638 32 PAC 99.9% none
Oilers 58 31 70 .603 27 PAC 99.5% up 0.7%
Ducks 58 30 70 .603 28 PAC 98.6% up 1.2%
Blues 58 31 67 .578 30 CEN 97.0% up 13.2%
Predators 56 27 62 .554 25 CEN 79.9% up 0.2%
Flames 58 29 61 .526 26 PAC 37.8%
down 4.1%
Kings 56 28 60 .536 27 PAC 79.9% down 3.1%
Jets 60 26 57 .475 24 CEN 3.8% down 3.8%
Canucks 58 25 56 .483 21 PAC 2.6% down 2.7%
Stars 59 22 54 .458 22 CEN 0.9% down 1.8%
Coyotes 55 19 45 .409 14 PAC 0.0% none
Avalanche 55 15 32 .291 15 PAC 0.0% none

(Chances courtesy Sports Club Stats.)

The Flames head into the weekend eighth in points and ninth in points percentage in the Western Conference.

The Blues have been on a great run since their coaching change. Barring anything going nuts in the Gateway City, only the wildcard spots are in question. Two of Calgary, Nashville and Los Angeles will make the playoffs. Minnesota, Chicago, San Jose, Edmonton, Anaheim and now St. Louis seem to have cemented themselves in the post-season picture.

If the playoffs began today, the Flames would be playing Minnesota (judging by points) or golfing (judging by points percentage).

THIS PAST WEEK

The Flames split their two games this week. They lost 5-0 to Arizona on Monday, but bounced back with a 3-1 victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday. (They weren’t great in either game, to be honest.)

THIS COMING WEEK

The Flames have three road games between now and next Friday. They’re in Vancouver on Saturday night, then play in Nashville on Tuesday and in Tampa Bay on Thursday.

As for the teams the Flames are chasing?

  • St. Louis (games played even, six points up) plays twice against Buffalo and Florida.
  • Nashville (two games in hand, one point up) plays four games against Minnesota, Columbus, Calgary and Colorado.
  • Los Angeles (two games in hand, one point back) plays four games against Florida, Anaheim, Colorado and Boston.

The good news is by next Friday, Nashville and Los Angeles will be a lot closer to burning off their games in hand. The better news is that the Flames have a golden chance to catch up to Nashville when they play on Tuesday.

    • freethe flames

      By the time the Flames leave Florida we should have an idea of where the race is and what the price of rentals should be. Here’s hoping we are still in the race and that BT has addressed our team needs.

      • Blackgold

        If the Flames want to make the playoffs, then they need to start renting some other players NOW, not 2 weeks from now. Wait that long, and the playoffs can be a distance memory.

        • freethe flames

          I have been saying that for days but few on this site agree with either of us. I for one would like to see us add a defender that is an upgrade even if it is a rental, here is a list of UFA’s rentals that are better than our current bottom three defenders: Smith LHD(has played on both sides),Kulikov LHD,Seidenberg LHD, Hainsey LHD all IMO would be an upgrade over JJ. RHD Stone or Franson would both be better short term over Wides and I would argue Engs. Now would I trade a 1st or 2nd round pick; nope. Would I move a player like JJ and a later round pick if it helped make the playoffs; yes.

          Upfront we have a number of positions that could be upgraded and have 2 guys that are either UFA or RFA’s that should be considered rentals; both have been helpful at times but could be upgraded, these being Chaisson and Versteeg. Tell me that Vanek, Hanazal, Vrbata, Eaves and Parenteau would not be upgrades and could help us in the playoff race. Again I would not move our 1st or 2nd rounders to get a rental. Again we will only know the cost of any of these guys once the market gets going but if they move for a 3rd and a prospect and we don’t add someone I would be disappointed.

          What would I use our 1st or 2nd rounder for is someone who has an NHL record that seems to be trending to be better than players like Brouwer, Shinkaruk, etc. Who that might be I’m not sure but I doubt it would include the guys the Av’s are shopping as their price tag would be to high.

          • Blackgold

            If the management see making the playoffs and are willing to pull a trade at the deadline, do it now, so that the odds of making the playoffs go up. If management doesn’t think they can make the playoffs, then stay pat. Don’t trade the farm and/or 1st or 2nd round but later draft picks or prospects that are doubtful, then go for it. If they wait until the trade deadline and then pull a trade, then all faith in management is gone.

    • freethe flames

      Heat were down 3-0 after the first, now the score is 3-2 after 5 mins in the second; Janko and Andersson with goals; Aagard,Klimchuk and Shinkaruk with assists.

    • Pond Hockey

      This team is in a quasi-rebuild phase as they never really went all in, possibly due to a lack of prospects and maybe because ownership never had the appetite for going ‘all in’ on a rebuild. I believe we are now into year 4 or this ‘rebuild’ without much salary cap left. Obviously, we have some bad contracts coming off the books soon but when I look at the roster and watch the games I find it hard to believe that this is the best squad that we can ice for that much money.

      It’s nice to think that we can bring in a patch or two here and there to help the team claw their way into the playoffs but this doesn’t solve the long-term challenges of developing a solid club with a deep pool of prospects.

      Whatever the outcome, its going to be interesting to see what happens between now and next season.

      Anyway, time for the Flames to win some games and give all FN followers an excuse to have another wobbly pop and talk like we know something about hockey.

      To Matthew Tkachuk: Tell your hockey friends that we have some openings.

    • TrumpeterSwan

      I would be a seller. Looking at the cupboards there is not much another team would want for a playoff run that the Flames would want to part with. I would however talk to Wideman and see if he would be willing to go to another club for a 2nd or a 3rd pick. His best value might be right now and I’m not sure if he is in the future or not.

      • supra steve

        I agree that the Flames should be sellers. Only buy if they are getting pieces that they NEED and can keep through the expansion draft, if the price is right. No rentals this year.

        NO ONE wants Wideman, even if he is available for a 7th round draft pick, or less. He has reportedly been available for over a year, and he’s still in CGY. His NHL career is done when this year is over. He had a good career/made a lot of $$, but he’s DONE and now has negative value.

      • Blackgold

        Nobody wants Wideman. After taking out the linesman, he is a marked man. No other team is going to take him. The Flames by appealing his suspension also pissed the refs off. It is going to take getting rid of Wideman and Burke to make things right with the refs.

    • Rockmorton65

      We don’t need to win at a specific “clip”. To make the playoffs we need, at least, one more point than the number nine seed. Whatever number that is. Obviously, the more points, the better our chances, but to say we need a specific number of points is just guessing.

    • ComeOn

      This whole seller/buyer thing is great if you’re at the very top with an aging core, or a tire fire of a team.

      For the Flames it’s a meaningless construct and is a polarized simpleton’s way of looking at it.

      In my opinion, you need to get better at every opportunity. Rentals won’t make us better, doing nothing won’t make us better…assess the market and make the moves that make you better every time you go through a draft, trade deadline or have a problem that demands it be addressed.

      You also need to get better in all the different ways possible, drafts, trades, PTO’s, UFA’s…any one of them won’t get you there…need to do all of them when compelling opportunities exist.

      Doing nothing now or selling is a way to the bottom.

    • MontanaMan

      IF this team makes the playoffs, they are going nowhere. They simply don’t have the depth for a long playoff run. Let’s not fool ourselves into renting veterans for a playoff run, only to be disappointed with the end result. I want the Flames to be sellers at the trade deadline, restock the shelves with youth, speed and skill and continue on the path for the next two or three years when they can make a legitimate challenge.

      • freethe flames

        Lets go with your plan. What would you sell? What do you get for them? Those are the first 2 questions that need to asked. Then will management bring up the young guys? Will another 4th rounder really stock the cupboards? How many B prospects do you need? Even are late first rounders are struggling in AHL.

        For me playoff experience is more valuable than another late round pick. I would be more disappointed if they missed the playoffs by a couple of points and did nothing than being swept if we added a veteran or two for low cost. The ideal situation would be to sell some of the B prospects, UFA’a, RFA’s for some draft picks and then turn those draft picks into either NHL upgrades or higher end prospects.

        Again only when the dominoes start to fall at the trade deadline will we know if there was any affordable help.

        Two years ago an unlikely group made the playoffs and got to the second round; all BT did was sell at the deadline and at least that was something. Last year his reasoning for not doing anything during the season was “That he owed it to the group to allow them to re-find their magic.” They didn’t and he was a seller. It has been obvious all season long that this team is close but is missing a couple of pieces not to be legitimate contenders but to be a team moving forward. He fired a coach to do so, he traded for a goalie he thought would help(even though Elliott has not been as good as hoped it was still a good trade), he signed a UFA that he thought would help(this has been a bit of a bust) and some other minor tweaking before the season began but nothing during the season, if he does not add someone who can help at the deadline it will 3 seasons in a row in which he has not added a player of significance during the season. Most of us say you draft BPA and trade for need; I would like to see BT address one of our obvious needs.

    • MontanaMan

      Addition by subtraction and I’m not saying the Flames would get high end players or first round choices for this group, but you’d provide openings for youngsters to come up and finish the season. You speak of gaining playoff experience – I’m for providing sustained NHL experience for those deserving of the opportunity for Flames management to accurately assess their readiness for the pros. Trade anyone outside the core, including Stajan, Wideman, Engelland, Bouma, Johnson and any AHLers you’ve given up on. Stock the shelves. The other argument is to add – who are you planning to trade to add for a playoff run? Good young prospects or high draft picks? Pass.

      • freethe flames

        Again who would you move and who would you bring in to replace them from the farm. Let’s say you bench Wideman (I’ve been calling that addition by subtraction for quite awhile now); who do bring up? The only guy who fits the bill is (RHD) is Andersson and I would be okay with that.

        If then you move Engs for a draft pick there really are no other RHD on the farm. So does GG finally have to give in and play TJ on the right side?

        Three guys you missed on your list are Chiasson, Versteeg and Brouwer. No one is likely to take Brouwer with his contract so lets leave him out of it. Versteeg is a guy we get the best bang for the buck in a trade and is the guy most likely replaceable from the farm. Give one of a Hunter, Klimchuk or Janko a look at LW with Bennett.

        A team might look at either Stajan or Bouma as good team vets for a long playoff run as well. If Stajan goes then Janko is the only center we have to fill that void.

        While I throw out a lot of names I don’t believe you can do them all but if one or two of our UFA’s, Rfa’s, B prospects(guys we seem to have given up on) could be used to add new face(draft picks or better prospects that fit our needs) then fine.

    • freethe flames

      How does the Olli Maatta injury change the trade deadline? This gives the Penguins additional cap space to be buyers. This will in turn likely drive up the cost of rentals; which would make the guys we could use to expensive for us. However; does it make a guy like Eng’s more valuable as a trade chip or a player? Is JJ a cheap attractive option?

    • RedMan

      it is a long shot for this team to make the playoffs – they would need to get it together and go on a run, but when i look at their recent play and history this year, i’m thinking it is MORE likely that the ‘run’ they go on is a losing streak.

      this team just isn’t “clicking” for some reason. The coach is “challenging” their star winger in public, which i have no problem with, but gives us something to at least guess at as to what the coach sees as the problem, i.e. lack of commitment to a 200 ft game, tired and/or lackadaisical.

      if they do happen to rip the last payoff spot out of the Kings hands, they just don’t have the horses to do anything, at least based on what we’ve seen so far. sure, they could surprise us, but this team bears no resemblance to the plucky come-back kings of 2 years ago, and has consistently shown that they are fragile and collapse in adversity.

      the upcoming expansion draft really makes it difficult for the flames to add a defenseman that can be a legitimate 2nd pair guy. reality is that nobody knows how this weird trade deadline will unfold because of the expansion.

      my suggestions:

      keep Versteeg and Engelland for depth, trade Bouma to a true contender looking for grit and playoff depth, and give Elliot a chance to prove he is worth resigning by riding him to the end of the season (sign hi if he proves himself, find a replacement if he doesn’t).

      If some team wont give a pick for wideman, let him grace the press-box for the remainder and give Kylington and maybe Rasmus each a stretch of games for experience and a chance o assess their growth and NHL readiness.

    • RedMan

      it is a long shot for this team to make the playoffs – they would need to get it together and go on a run, but when i look at their recent play and history this year, i’m thinking it is MORE likely that the ‘run’ they go on is a losing streak.

      this team just isn’t “clicking” for some reason. The coach is “challenging” their star winger in public, which i have no problem with, but gives us something to at least guess at as to what the coach sees as the problem, i.e. lack of commitment to a 200 ft game, tired and/or lackadaisical.

      if they do happen to rip the last payoff spot out of the Kings hands, they just don’t have the horses to do anything, at least based on what we’ve seen so far. sure, they could surprise us, but this team bears no resemblance to the plucky come-back kings of 2 years ago, and has consistently shown that they are fragile and collapse in adversity.

      the upcoming expansion draft really makes it difficult for the flames to add a defenseman that can be a legitimate 2nd pair guy. reality is that nobody knows how this weird trade deadline will unfold because of the expansion.

      my suggestions:

      keep Versteeg and Engelland for depth, trade Bouma to a true contender looking for grit and playoff depth, and give Elliot a chance to prove he is worth resigning by riding him to the end of the season (sign hi if he proves himself, find a replacement if he doesn’t).

      If some team wont give a pick for wideman, let him grace the press-box for the remainder and give Kylington and maybe Rasmus each a stretch of games for experience and a chance o assess their growth and NHL readiness.

    • RedMan

      it is a long shot for this team to make the playoffs – they would need to get it together and go on a run, but when i look at their recent play and history this year, i’m thinking it is MORE likely that the ‘run’ they go on is a losing streak.

      this team just isn’t “clicking” for some reason. The coach is “challenging” their star winger in public, which i have no problem with, but gives us something to at least guess at as to what the coach sees as the problem, i.e. lack of commitment to a 200 ft game, tired and/or lackadaisical.

      if they do happen to rip the last playoff spot out of the Kings hands, they just don’t have the horses to do anything, at least based on what we’ve seen so far. sure, they could surprise us, but this team bears no resemblance to the plucky come-back kings of 2 years ago, and has consistently shown that they are fragile and collapse in adversity.

    • RedMan

      the upcoming expansion draft really makes it difficult for the flames to add a defenseman that can be a legitimate 2nd pair guy. reality is that nobody knows how this weird trade deadline will unfold because of the expansion.

      my suggestions:

      keep Versteeg and Engelland for depth, trade Bouma to a true contender looking for grit and playoff depth, and give Elliot a chance to prove he is worth resigning by riding him to the end of the season (sign hi if he proves himself, find a replacement if he doesn’t).

      If some team wont give a pick for wideman, let him grace the press-box for the remainder and give Kylington and maybe Rasmus each a stretch of games for experience and a chance o assess their growth and NHL readiness.

    • RedMan

      it is a long shot for this team to make the playoffs – they would need to get it together and go on a run, but when i look at their recent play and history this year, i’m thinking it is MORE likely that the ‘run’ they go on is a losing streak.

    • RedMan

      this team just isn’t “clicking” for some reason. The coach is “challenging” their star winger in public, which i have no problem with, but gives us something to at least guess at as to what the coach sees as the problem, i.e. lack of commitment to a 200 ft game, tired and/or lackadaisical.

    • RedMan

      if they do happen to rip the last playoff spot out of the Kings hands, they just don’t have the horses to do anything, at least based on what we’ve seen so far. sure, they could surprise us, but this team bears no resemblance to the plucky come-back kings of 2 years ago, and has consistently shown that they are fragile and collapse in adversity.

      • freethe flames

        Redman; I would like to comment on all your posts. We have a very different view of this team. Despite a bad start to the season, worse than expected goaltending, sub par progression from our young stars, and has played wideman almost every game this year and is somehow still in a battle for a play off spot. Personally I think both Monny and Johnny will snap out of their slumps and that Elliott is more likely to get better than worse and if that happens we likely compete with LA until the end. Sitting Wideman would help the cause. As for keeping Versteeg and Engs I think they get us the most at the trade deadline and unless Versteeg shows chemistry with Johnny and Monny over the next few games is replaceable from the farm. Eng’s has been better this year but if he can get us a good draft pick you have to consider it. Johnson might also be a moveable part.

    • RedMan

      This team just isn’t clicking for some reason. The coach is challenging their star winger in public, which I have no problem with, but gives us something to at least guess at as to what the coach sees as the problem, i.e. lack of commitment to a 200 ft. game, tired and or lackadaisical.

    • Pond Hockey

      I would like to get to the post season just to see what Brouwer can do. After all, this is supposed to be where he shines and why he was brought here.

      If we do and he doesn’t answer the call then we can definitively say that it is a bad contract.

    • WSO

      I’m blown away flames fans haven’t seriously considered trading Gaudreau for multiple long term assets, or an actual cornerstone player. Johnny isn’t, and will never be a franchise player so why not move him while he has value for a couple of actual building blocks.

      • TrumpeterSwan

        I agree with you, but I’m not sure what the market is for 6.75 million Johnny “AHL” Hockey? The league seems to have figured him out and unless he can adjust it will be tough to trade him at that price.

        Personally if it could be done I would like to see a Taylor Hall type trade for a tough shut down D man to replace Wideman. Smallish skilled wingers are in more abundant supply than you would think.Lets hope Johnny can be replaced in the off season.