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The Playoff Chase: Let’s talk seeding

The Stanley Cup playoffs begin on Wednesday night. For the third time in five seasons, the Calgary Flames will take part. Much of the rest of the playoff picture is in flux.

The Flames have clinched many things

With one game remaining in the regular season, the Flames cannot move anymore in the standings. They have captured:

  • A playoff spot
  • Top spot in the Pacific Division
  • Top spot in the Western Conference

So long as they advance, they’ll have home ice advantage in each of the first three playoff rounds.

Western playoff match-ups

Here’s roughly how the playoff matches are lining up in the West.

Calgary [P1] vs. Colorado [WC2]
San Jose [P2] vs. Vegas [P3] (locked in)

Nashville [C1] vs. Dallas [WC1]
Winnipeg [C2] vs. St. Louis [C3]

If Dallas gets a point on Friday (against Chicago) or Saturday (against Minnesota) or Colorado loses in any form on Saturday (against San Jose), then the Flames will play Colorado.

The first three spots in the Central Division are glorious chaos which will be decided on Saturday:

  • Nashville (98 points, 42 regulation/overtime wins) faces Chicago
  • Winnipeg (97 points, 44 ROW) faces Arizona
  • St. Louis (97 points, 42 ROW) faces Vancouver

A Nashville win makes life simple. Any other result and things could get really complicated. Anybody could win that division.

The East

While not terribly relevant to the Flames (… yet), the East still has a bit of intrigue left as well. Here’s how things stand right now.

Tampa Bay [A1] vs. Columbus [WC2]
Boston [A2] vs. Toronto [A3] (locked in)
Washington [M1] vs. Carolina [WC1]
New York Islanders [M2] vs. Pittsburgh [M3]

The final playoff spot is between Columbus and Montreal. Columbus can clinch with a win on Friday (against the New York Rangers) or Saturday (against Ottawa). Montreal would need to win on Saturday (against Toronto) while needing Columbus to lose out in order to make it in. Columbus and Montreal both have 94 points and can get a maximum of 98 and 96, respectively; in the West, Colorado can only get a maximum of 92 points, and Dallas, 95 points.

Montreal cannot leapfrog Carolina (97 points), but Columbus can, if Carolina loses on Saturday (against Philadelphia). One of Montreal, Columbus, or Carolina will play Tampa Bay.

If Carolina wins on Saturday and Pittsburgh loses (against the New York Rangers), Carolina will leapfrog Pittsburgh, and clinch the third seed in the Atlantic Division. If Pittsburgh wins on Saturday they will clinch a divisional playoff spot.

If Pittsburgh wins on Saturday and the New York Islanders lose (against the Capitals), Pittsburgh will leapfrog the Islanders, and clinch second seed in the Atlantic Division. If the Islanders win on Saturday they will clinch home ice for the first round.

Got all that?

One last quirk: Boston and Calgary both have 107 points with 81 games played. Calgary has 50 ROW and Boston has 47. If Calgary wins on Saturday (against Edmonton) or Boston loses (against Tampa Bay), they will clinch second overall in the league. If Calgary loses and Boston wins on Saturday, Boston will clinch second overall in the league. The Flames control their destiny when it comes to league-wide standings and, should Calgary and Boston meet in the Stanley Cup Final, the Flames could be the ones who end up with home ice.

  • Skylardog

    I still have 2 spots left for the Draft pool. $25 entry, you email the winner the funds by email transfer.
    see yesterday for info (Embers of Ducks game). 12 players, now no goalies, and 3 points for DMan goals, changed from yesterday. How to get in touch with me is there as well.

  • Off the wall

    Colorado is 8-0-2 in it’s last 10 games. Talk about heating up before the playoffs. Yikes!

    It’s going to be fun watching the scoreboard for the next few days!

    I just hope Johnny gets his 100th against the Oilers, cuz that would be precious 🔥

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      There is a lot to be said for lining up against a team we match up well against. I have been impressed with how the Flames have handled Colorado’s big line in H to H games. Looking at the ebbs and flows of the season, Colorado is likely coming down from a hot streak.

      The Flames have a great opportunity to have a long run with no team in the West ( maybe STL) that has stood out. We don’t match up well with Dallas but other teams do. Vegas looked unstoppable last week and SJ was on fire last month.

      I think our run will ride on which Smith we see. I am less convinced about Rittich since he has given up the first goal in far too many games recently. Smith has shown he can be a big game player while Rittich has not.

  • Flames fan since 83

    Couldn’t plan this better. Injury free, already had a chance to rest players, with one tune up game left before it get’s real.
    I hope we play Oilers as if it is a playoff game. My fear is we take the night off against Edmonton, and believe we can turn the switch on against the Ave’s (most likely opponent) in game 1.
    That would be a mistake. The Aves have been fighting for a playoff spot since the All Star break, and are 8-0-2 as per off the wall. They are going to be a handful next week.
    So forget about playing safe or worrying about not hurting yourself. We need to acclimate to playoff speed. Destroying the Oil is just a bonus!

  • The GREAT WW

    “Have a McDavid day……”
    Remember when that was all the rage 4 years ago?

    “We have the youngest captain in NHL history…”
    How’s that working out for you?

    Good times!!!!!

    WW

  • Hockey4life

    Calgary will play Dallas. You heard it here first. Dallas has had Calgary’s number all year and they will purposely throw their final 2 games to play them. Just watch.

  • CowboyBob

    Dallas trying to lose on purpose, looking to fall behind Colorado and play the Flames in the first round. A team they beat three times. I hope the Flames have a long run but I worry if the team is built for the regular season and when the officiating changes in the playoffs do are faster lighter players get mugged by a bigger, heavier team. I can’t get out of my head how Vegas clutched and grabbed Schiefele last year or how Washington did the same thing against the Lightnings smaller forwards.