The Calgary Flames have 11 games remaining on their schedule. They need about 96 points to make the playoffs. They’re trying to crash a playoff party that’s looking like it’ll have even fewer seats to fill than it did a few weeks ago.
Here’s our weekly look at just how crazy the playoff picture looks this season.
Where they stand
(Sorted by points percentage.)
Nashville, Vegas and Winnipeg are locks. There’s some shuffling in relative chances behind them, but Colorado has elbowed their way into the “strong bet” club with a very strong week: they join Minnesota, San Jose and Los Angeles.
At this point, the Central spots look to go to Nashville, Winnipeg and Minnesota; the Pacific spots are Vegas, San Jose and Los Angeles. That leaves Colorado with one wild card spot, with Dallas, Anaheim, St. Louis and Calgary fighting over the one remaining wild card spot. There’s still time left, but the clock is ticking for the Flames.
This past week
The Flames beat Ottawa to end their big road trip. Then they came home and lost to the NY Islanders, then beat the Oilers with a 1-0 shutout. They captured four of a possible six points.
This coming week
The Flames have four big divisional games this week: they host San Jose on Friday, visit Vegas on Sunday and Arizona on Monday, then host Anaheim on Wednesday.
(ed. – This is Ari taking over this section.)
As the playoff race heightens, every game is the biggest one for the Flames. That’s now more true than ever, as they’re in the midst of a seven-game Pacific opponent stretch, starting with their win over the Oilers. But the kicker here is four of their next six games are against teams the Flames are directly competing against for a playoff spot.
Though they’re behind, a divisional playoff spot still isn’t out of the question. Let’s ignore Vegas and Arizona for now, and focus on the California teams. The Flames have played 71 games. So have the Ducks and Kings. The Sharks have played 70.
If the Flames beat Anaheim, they tie them in points. As things stand that keeps both teams out of the playoff picture. However, if Anaheim wins in regulation, then they gain a four-point lead on the Flames: a much more precarious situation.
If the Flames beat Los Angeles, they will be two points back of them for a potential divisional spot. However, if Los Angeles wins in regulation, then that’s a six-point gap.
If the Flames beat San Jose twice, they will be one point back of them with the Sharks having a game in hand. If San Jose beats them twice in regulation, then that’s a nine-point gap. If they split the two games, things stay a five-point gap, all with the Sharks maintaining their game in hand.
In other words: winning those four games is the difference between the Flames making themselves a threat, or making sure the games following this divisional stretch are essentially meaningless.
Using extremely basic projections – two points against lesser teams, one point against middling teams, no points against stronger teams – here’s where the Ducks, Kings, and Sharks could be once everyone has played 77 games:
- Ducks: 89 with a loss to the Flames, 91 with a win
- Kings: 89 with a loss to the Flames, 91 with a win
- Sharks: 91 with two losses to the Flames, 95 with two wins
Let’s split the Vegas and Arizona games and give the Flames two of a possible four points, putting them at 82, before factoring in the California games. They win all four, they’re at 90 points: ahead of the Ducks and Kings, and one back of the Sharks. They win two, they’re at 86: behind everyone, and only just barely in striking distance, depending on who they lose to. They win none, and they’re at 82: they’re essentially done.
In all likelihood, the Flames will have to, at absolute minimum, take three of four games against the California teams to give themselves a chance.