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The Flames are probably playoff-bound. Now what?

The Calgary Flames have played 43 games of their 2018-19 season. They’ve put themselves in a really good position to make the playoffs, which might give them a chance to have success once they get there.

The Flames have a 26-13-4 record for 56 points. Through 43 games, it’s the fourth best performance in franchise history:

  • 58 points in 1987-88
  • 62 points in 1988-89
  • 58 points in 2008-09

As you would expect from such a great start, their playoff chances at this point look pretty solid.

Playoff odds, at a glance

Are the Flames going to make the playoffs? Yeah, probably.

Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) had the Flames with a 96% chance of making the playoffs heading into Saturday’s games, with a 90.2 point playoff cutline. Under his model, the Flames would need 35 points to qualify, which would be a 0.449 points percentage and around a 17-21-1 record.

Dom Luszczyszyn from the Athletic had the Flames with a 98% chance of making the playoffs heading into Saturday’s games, with a 90.6 point playoff cutline. As with McCurdy’s model, the Flames would need 35 points and a 17-21-1 record to qualify.

Sports Club Stats uses a model that’s a bit less sophisticated – and optimistic – than McCurdy or Luszczyszyn, but it’s pointing in the same direction. They have the Flames with a 99.9% chance following Saturday’s games. Their playoff cutline is around 92 points, so 36 more points and an 18-21-0 record gets the Flames there.

Long story short, barring a catastrophic implosion by the Flames, they’re probably on their way to spring hockey.

So now what?

The Flames made the playoffs in 2015 and 2017. All due respect to those teams, but they had to basically exhaust themselves to get there. This year’s Flames have a lot more breathing room than they’ve had in decades in regards to their ability to make a push to the playoffs but have the ability to tinker with their lines or rest players who might be dealing with injuries.

The hockey club has had a lot of things working, but they’ve also had to deal with some challenges – secondary scoring hasn’t emerged yet, the second power play unit hasn’t done much, and Mike Smith has had issues. With two weeks until the All-Star Break and roughly six weeks until the trade deadline, the Flames have a lot of time to experiment and figure out how to fix their issues and maximize their group.

If the Flames can figure out some of their issues, their chances of challenging for the Pacific Division crown are actually pretty good right now. McCurdy, Luszczyszyn and Sports Club Stats project the Flames as the division winners. It’ll likely take somewhere around 100 points to clinch the Pacific, which would only require a record slightly north of 0.500 to hit.

There’s a lot of hockey left to play and lots of weird things can go wrong over the final few months of the season, but the Flames have put themselves in more comfortable a spot than they’ve been in decades. Let’s see what they do with the wiggle room they’ve given themselves.

  • FlamesFanFromMI

    Man it’s amazing to see all the opinions. We want to trade Neal to get ferly back? The same guy who all of sudden stopped the physical play and used to disappear for weeks even on first line? That Ferly ?
    Trade goalie from Detroit? They wants first round pick? So we won’t have next year first round either? Just in case you don’t know Steve Y will be GM for wings ( he is already in the organization )
    Almost forgot Simmons from Philly? Who is slower then Neal?
    Wonder when will someone suggests trading Lucic from Edmonton?
    Brian Elliot? As a back up or Ramo? Seriously have you been following flames for at least 5 years?
    Trade cheap but very good D man and then cry when we run out of healthy d man in deep play off run
    Do you guys ever be happy? BT will need a capable back ( No Ramo or Elliot) goalie and get Neal going so our secondary scoring improves.
    We don’t need tough guys to trade for remember Edmonton game when they tried to be physical and we just went around them to score and got a win?
    Guys take a chill pill. BT is getting paid lot of money to solve this he got us this far ( I know Neal and Brouwer) but it’s more good then bad
    Man just be happy.

  • oddclod

    Czarnik can’t think the game at nhl speed. Come playoffs, will be a healthy scratch. Dube gets the first audition.

    Neal is floating. He’ll pick it up. After 2 finals in a row me thinks he has two more gears.
    Smitty is a capable back up.
    Most teams don’t have two starters.
    We got big Save Dave.
    Good job Tre.
    Rejoice. Half way, first in the west.
    As I scroll over to nhl.com just to see the standings again.

    How sweet it is.

  • Sterls

    I wonder if once Valimaki is back if Toronto would do Kylington + Czarnik for Kapanen. We would need to find another LD to shore up the LD depth, but I think that should be easy and cost a middle pick. Kapenen could solve that 2RW problem we have long term, and we could get him at a good cap hit next season. I’d like to see Byng-Janko-Kapanen as a line with Bennett-Backlund-Frolik as a shutdown third line.

  • Skylardog

    The Flames are making the playoffs, but the cut off in the 91 point range are ridiculously low, and the 100 points being enough to win the division is way too low as well. Vegas is trending to hit 102, and the Sharks 101 if they match on the back half what they have done so far. The problem is, both came out of the gates slow, especially Vegas.

    We need 108 to be first, and 95 is the cutoff for a playoff spot in the West. We have a playoff spot almost locked in, but it will be a dogfight to get tops in the Pacific.

    But we got this, tops in the Pacific I mean. We get to 108 at the very least.

  • Skylardog

    Funny how many are talking about trades that I put out this AM. I got trashed, but now some are seeing the light.

    Two of the ones I listed are very doable, and necessary.

    Pry Kapanen out of Toronto. I suggested Brodie go to the Leafs this AM, but that is because I believe Muzzin is an upgrade to Brodie in a playoff setting where physical play takes over. Muzzin also has a lower cap hit. Brodie also has the occasional brain fart where you just have to go “what the heck TJ.”

    But Kapanen for Kylington either straight up or with another small piece makes going East should work too. As I explained this AM, Kylington is nothing more than a bottom pair defensemen for his entire career here, because Hanifin and Valimaki will ALWAYS be ahead of him. That makes him a minor piece in our system, but Kapanen can and would be a top 6 scorer for us. Ky would help the Leafs a bunch, and has the right cap hit to make it a great trade for both teams. They have a cap nightmare next year, even with Ky in and Kapanen out. They are never signing Kapanen. we have Ky as a surplus in the short and long run.

    And as we need a backup (we do, If we had to go to Smith because Ritter was injured, it is over). To get this done, and protect the cap situation, Smith has to go the other way. Only Detroit can do this. They are losing Howard in the next few years anyways. He can sign a 1 day deal as a Wing when he hangs them up.

    If you JUST did those 2 trades would my ideas be more acceptable?
    Before you trash me, put the new lineup on paper. It looks good with Kapanen on the second line.

    And then you could add Bieksa as suggested for D-depth. I like that idea, I was thinking we could give up a third or pick someone up on waivers to fill in the 7th D. Prout is not capable.

    • Puck Head

      Sounds beautiful but there will be a bidding war for Howard and he’s not a long term solution. I think we’re stuck with Smith – nobody will want him plus they’ll want a juicy sweetener in return.

      Brodie’s value is increasing. You could get a great return for him, more than Muzzin I would expect.

      The Bieksa idea is good.

      The salary cap makes it extremely difficult to play GM. So much going on behind the scenes that we fans aren’t privy to.

      I expect Tre will make a deal or two but I also expect to be surprised when the announcement comes through.

    • Off the wall

      Kapanen for Kylington. Yeah I’d do that in a heartbeat.

      Too bad Neal hasn’t worked out so far. We probably wouldn’t be having this reaction if he could just get his act together.

      Could you imagine actually having two functional scoring lines?

      Neal’s pretty much immovable, like a hippopotamus taking a nap. Not a pretty picture.

      Perhaps Neal shouldn’t have got his teeth fixed. He looks too pretty to worry about scoring?
      Nice teeth though. I wonder if he flosses?

      Maybe if Neal lost a tooth, he’d start scoring again. We should get Backlund to take warm up shots around him…

    • freethe flames

      What will the cost be for Muzzin? Again in making trades lets remember NTC, cap space and one that we sometimes forget and really have no idea about is “the locker room”, sometimes you move a guy who is part of the glue in the locker room for a guy who is better on paper but is not the right fit.

      • Skylardog

        The cost is speed. That is what the Kings need, and cap relief.

        They may be a team that would take Czar and find a spot for him. The other chip is Mangiapane. They will be familiar with him because of his time in Stockton. They could probably find a top 6 role for him, while, he is a long way from cracking our top 6. That makes him a permanent AHLer in our system unless he can retool his play into a bottom 6 player. But we have those too, and they are a dime a dozen.

        After that they would likely need a pick or another prospect, but I think that would have to be getting close.

  • freethe flames

    BT might decide to go to the playoffs with the guys who have gotten them where they are. The bidding war for rentals is likely going to get expensive and there are teams better situated to over pay for rentals than we are. The best bet might be a simple depth addition or two. Valimaki coming back is like adding a player.