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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

Breaking down the Pacific playoff race

The All-Star Break is upon us, friends, and here’s a crazy fact: if the Stanley Cup playoffs began today, five Pacific Division teams would qualify. One of them? The Calgary Flames.

With 30-ish games left on the docket, how does the Pacific playoff race stack up? Does anybody have the inside track? Let’s break it down.

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Behold, a handy table

Pts W GR VAN EDM CGY VGK ARZ Cali Central East
Vancouver 58 27 33 0 2 2 3 6 9 11
Edmonton 57 26 33 0 3 3 1 6 10 10
Calgary 57 26 32 2 3 2 1 7 6 11
Vegas 57 25 31 2 3 2 2 2 8 12
Arizona 57 26 31 3 1 1 2 4 8 12

The Canucks are in first place. They have 58 points and a .592 points percentage, both tops in the Pacific right now. They have seven games remaining against the good Pacific teams and six left against the California teams. Their schedule involves five sets of back-to-backs, 16 road games, and an average opponent points percentage of .558.

The Oilers have 57 points and a .582 points percentage. They’re second right now in the division by way of having played fewer games than the other three teams at 57 points. They have seven games left against the good Pacific teams and six against California. Their schedule involves five sets of back-to-backs, 15 road games, and an average opponent points percentage of .561.

The Flames have 57 points and a .570 points percentage. They have eight games left against the good Pacific teams and seven against California. Their schedule involves four sets of back-to-backs, 14 road games, and an average opponent points percentage of .549.

The Golden Knights have 57 points and a .559 points percentage. They’re ahead of Arizona on the second tiebreaker, regulation and overtime wins. (The first tiebreaker is now regulation wins, starting this season.) They have nine games left against the good Pacific teams and two against California. Their schedule involves four sets of back-to-backs, 17 road games, and an average opponent points percentage of .570.

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The Coyotes have 57 points and a .559 points percentage. They have seven games left against the good Pacific teams and four against California. Their schedule involves three sets of back-to-backs, 14 road games, and an average opponent points percentage of .557.

So how does all of this look for the Flames?

  • The number of games left against the California teams is promising, as the Flames can grab points against teams that are (a) diminished and (b) likely to sell before the trade deadline, making themselves even weaker.
  • The number of games left against the teams they’re battling with is equally promising – including three against the Oilers – as they’re effectively masters of their own fates now.
  • Overall, their travel isn’t bad, they don’t play a ton of back-to-backs, and they have the lowest strength of schedule of any of the five teams.

The Flames have been really inconsistent this season, but they’ve gone through the worst of their schedule and relative to the other four Pacific teams they’re battling with they have the easiest path to the post-season. They just need to beat the teams in front of them and it’s probable – though not inevitable – that they can find a way into the playoffs.