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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Where do we go from here?

Last night, the Calgary Flames clinched a spot in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs. Much excitement and ballyhoo ensued, as a team that looked like they were dead and buried in mid-November managed to crawl out of the muck and make something of themselves.

Well, now what?

The Flames have four games remaining. They have some potential jockeying they can do in the Western Conference standings. They have games remaining against Anaheim (twice), Los Angeles and San Jose. These games could matter quite a bit.

Here’s what’s at stake in the final quartet of regular season outings.

Avoiding Chicago

The Chicago Blackhawks are the best team in hockey right now. They’re rolling and they’re crushing teams. It would behoove the Flames to avoid playing Chicago at any cost, because a first round series with Chicago would probably result in some golf dates being booked soon after.

Is it possible? Yes. All the Flames need to do is finish ahead of St. Louis or Nashville. The Flames’ magic number on Nashville is 4 and on St. Louis is 5. That means any combination of 4 Flames wins and Predators losses guarantees the Flames stay ahead of Nashville. (Or 5 Flames wins and St. Louis losses means they stay ahead of the Blues.)

Staying ahead of Nashville is probably a bit more plausible than staying ahead of St. Louis. Nashville has Minnesota, St. Louis, the NY Islanders, Dallas and Winnipeg left to play. St. Louis has Nashville, Winnipeg, Florida, Carolina and Colorado. If I’m a team, I’d rather have the Blues’ schedule.

Getting a divisional playoff spot

While avoiding being demolished by Chicago is a primary objective, managing to wrangle a divisional playoff spot would allow the Flames to potentially get an even easier first round opponent. They’d probably rather avoid whichever team can claw their way into winning the Pacific. Is it possible? Yes, but it primarily relies upon them catching San Jose.

  • Their magic number on San Jose is 5. The Sharks play Vancouver (twice), Edmonton and Calgary.
  • Their magic number on Edmonton is 7. The Oilers play Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose and Vancouver twice.
  • Their magic number on Anaheim is 7.5. The Ducks play Edmonton, Calgary (twice), Chicago and Los Angeles.

In other words…

If the Flames can win two of their remaining four games, particularly their game against San Jose, they can (a) avoid Chicago and (b) give themselves a pretty strong chance of moving past the Sharks and into a divisional playoff spot.

It’s going to be a very interesting final four games.

  • Newbietwo

    And there is this!

    http://calgaryherald.com/opinion/columnists/chrisohou-i-want-the-city-to-use-my-tax-dollars-to-help-build-a-new-arena

    I want CalgaryNext to happen and I want the politics of it to end and the stories of tax payer this and that needs to be done with.. $125 million for a library is a joke.. having poison trickle into our rivers on the edge of our downtown without any accountability to fix it while spending $125 million on a library now that is beyond a joke. This is exactly the type of vitamin b shot this city needs right now instead of aging by the second

          • McRib

            This is some (insert expletive(s) here).

            Good luck finding another market even half as profitable as Calgary. Where are you going to go? Seattle? Oh wait they are even more unwilling to publicly find an area in Seattle. No one in North America wants to pay for billionaires arenas anymore. There is even a larger opposition to this in the USA than Canada. By the time this deal will have fallen through Quebec City will have already gotten a failing franchise from one of Carolina, Phoenix or NYI. Where else is there to go? The entire Next project has show the complete greed of our ownership (NEXT is obviously a secondary purposel to create leverage in a reasonable location like Victoria Park or on the Stampede Grounds), all done during a recession mind you.

            Our out of touch billionaire owners really don’t understand how the public sentiment has change dramatically on this matter in the last few years. Even a market like Kansas City has said without having to pay concessions, parking revenue, etc of a professional sports franchise tied to the Sprint Centre they make more than they would with a full time tenant on just concerts and events, something ASU also reflected recently when rejecting the Coyotes bid to co-share an arena. You have no leverage Mr. Edwards & Co you are about two or three years too late on this, as public sentiment has changed greatly, it’s time to dip into your pocket books and privately find whatever you please. You should have asked for provincial funding when Redford was still in office giving away the bank to the Oilers.

          • Kevin R

            Really can’t imagine Betthead standing in front of the media to allow a Canadian franchise to move when he has defended the Coyotes franchise to staying in Arizona for how many years now & counting. I see Florida building half empty at games & it would take years for Betthead to come even close to moving the Panthers anywhere. This is just part of the never-ending posturing we are about to endure.

            Nenshi needs to be gone. He is a lying, arrogant pompous nasty politician that needs to not get elected this Fall. I have seen first hand how this man deals in the fight we have had with him over the South BRT where he wants to throw millions & millions away to have designated bus lanes down 14th street for a handful of riders only to get plugged at the flyover going on to the always backed up Glenmore Trail. The Calgary Flames are very important to this City, from civic pride to the economic impact a professional sports team brings to a City & their role in fundraising within the community. To see my Mayor sneering & dissing this infuriates me. I don’t think tax dollars should flip this bill but we do need to kick in $$$ & be a partner in this as a City.

          • threelions

            The Calgary Flames are very important to this City, from civic pride to the economic impact a professional sports team brings to a City & their role in fundraising within the community.
            ———-
            I was wondering about this. Are there any figures/studies that look at the economic impact that sports teams have on a given city?

      • Brent G.

        King is so full of sh!t. There is no way they will find another market that would even come close to how lucrative Calgary is. The Dome is old, I get it, but Flames are selling out every game. Obviously it’s not hurting their profits too badly playing in an older building.

        The biggest loss of the old arena is our inability to attract concerts. King needs to lose his ego and understand he’s not as important to this city as he thinks he is.

      • Greg

        Really wish both Canadian and US federal governments would just ban the use of any level of taxes being used for arena funding. It’d take the pressure off local politicians to acquiesce or lose their team. You’d still see project happen if they make economic sense, but not because there are potential hostage situations due to one bad local government being willing to make poor choices with their constituents money.

  • Justthateasy

    With this city the cost of doing anything with taxpayer money is no object. Who cares about other people’s money eh?
    Remember how Ken King burned Abbotsford.
    Anyway, on the topic at hand… The more points the better always. Not only for the first round but potential home advantage for the second round if a lower seed happens to win. On the other hand, rest somebody that needs it. Play somebody hasn’t played in along time.

  • Fan the Flames

    For those that think the Flames wouldn’t find another market as profitable as Calgary take a look to the hockey starved province next door . They would love to poach the hockey team and some of the oil companies . It is time to wake up .

    • Rudy27

      NHL could never work in Rider land. There’s a big difference between driving from all over the province once every two weeks in the summer to watch football compared to several times a week in the winter to catch an NHL home game.

  • Danoilerfanincalgary

    Calgary Next is a joke dreamed up by rich business men but a new building complex is much needed for Calgary that would accommodate both hockey and all kinds of events that cannot currently be held at the dome. That could be funded by tax money if the infrastructure can add value to the city with both tax revenue and usage. Ken King and his cronies just lobbed a grenade at the people of Calgary maybe they will have to move the Stampeders because they don’t get their way.

    • Newbietwo

      And what exactly do you know about economic development? Your opinion comes directly from a tax payer not wanting to have funds directed at this.. that however is the wrong move.. how much money does this city waste for things we have no vote on nor want.. takefor example he stupid bridge and the cost of it.. fact remains is that we have poison on the edge of our city tunnning into our river and no one is accountable for that or doing anything about it.. a second fact if this does not get placed on that side of the city we will be stuck with an ugly mess there for the rest of our lives.. and yet another fact.. to have a football stadium and hockey arena when backto thefurure was a box hit movie is laughable.. or how about yet another fact where we live is cold and if it ain’t snowing it’s raining.. so we do need the accommodation of both a field house and indoor football stadium

  • smatic10

    Let me just preface this by saying I love my Flames and will always support them, win or lose. However, I am also a realist. Based on what I’ve seen from all the playoff Pacific teams this season, I do not like our chances in the first round. Anaheim might have an aging core, but they have really good depth at all positions, and Perry and Kesler are masters at getting under the skin of opponents. If we focus too much on that dirty stuff, we wont succeed (see the recent LA game). Edmonton may not have elite dmen, but they have depth there for the first time in forever and Talbot has played quite well. We may have more depth than them at all positions but having a generational player on your side can change everything. The league has yet to find a way to minimize McDavid’s dominance. If he gets going in a series, hard to beat them. SJ are only a year removed from playing in the cup finals. They have the same team plus an increase in speed with Boedker and Schlemko. We’ve played them well this season but they’re always a tough playoff team.

    With all that being said, I’m super proud of this team. They definitely earned that playoff spot and did not have to fight till the very end to get it. Lots to be excited about: Gio back in the playoffs, the Tkachuk friendship tour: Playoff Edition, Moose back on track and hopefully continuing that in he postseason, Dougie’s first playoffs as a top-pairing dman, etc. Can we beat any team? Yes. But it helps to look at things objectively and temper expectations. Don’t forget that this team needs to fix their bottom pair dmen, make some adjustments to their bottom six, and make their pp and pk more consistent.

    Hopefully this doesn’t get trashed too much.

    • The Doctor

      Call me an optimist, but I still think that at some point these guys are going to finally figure out how to play the Ducks effectively. The main difference between the Flames and the Ducks is that we’re improving. We’re on an upward trajectory. As in, the best team in the NHL since January 26th. No diss on the Ducks, but that’s not their story. And we’re a much better, deeper team than that team that faced them in round 2 a couple of years ago. I could see us beating them in a 7 game series.

      • smatic10

        Very true and I certainly hope you’re right about us finding a way to beat them. If we focus more on having that killer offensive instinct against them, I could see success (like Nashville did against them in last years playoffs). Minimize the dirty, rough stuff, stop taking dumb penalties, minimize turnovers and focus on scoring goals.

  • Dreadguy

    https://www.alleninstitute.org/about/founder/

    Paul Allen could afford to privately fund a state of the art arena in Seattle if he chose to. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that all pro sports teams owners care about profit either. Some of these billionaires take on pro franchises in order to claim losses at tax time. This is the same reason why many of them give away tonnes of money to charity or support various philanthropic ventures.

  • Franko J

    The next two games versus the Ducks will determine who the Flames will play. Even though the playoffs don’t start for another week and a half, I for one think it will be the Ducks and starting tomorrow night at the dome I feel the playoffs will unofficially begin for both teams.

    • aye

      I actually don’t mind playing the ducks in the first round, or the Hawks for that matter. I have watched quite a few oilers games lately, and have to say they look really good, and have just swept the 3 California teams. As much as I feel the Flames are playing well right now, and can match up against any team, the oilers are clicking too, and would be better to face them in the second round. For all the people dismissing the oilers because of all the “loser points”, the fact is they played in 19 OT games vs 17 for the Flames, and the Flames actually benefited more by picking up more “extra points” from OT. Flames record for games ending in regulation is 31-30, the oilers are 34-25, so they are legit.

  • Toofun

    First round opponent looks like a 3 way race with pretty even odds between Chicago, Edmonton and Anaheim. The more points we take in the last 4 games, the more we avoid Chicago and shift our odds towards Anaheim (and even bring SJ back into the equation).

    Best case scenario is we break the curse and dominate Anaheim the next 2 games, then ride the wave into the playoffs and take them out in the first round!

    Meaningful hockey in April, nice!