The Calgary Flames have 12 games remaining in their 2020-21 season. They’re six points behind the Montreal Canadiens, who have two games in hand and occupy the fourth and final North Division playoff spot.
Do the Flames have a shot at making the playoffs? Well, yeah, but that door is quickly closing.
A quick rundown
The Flames have 12 games left.
- Edmonton (x2), Montreal (x3), Ottawa (x2), Vancouver (x2), Winnipeg (x1)
The Canadiens have 14 games left.
- Calgary (x3), Edmonton (x4), Ottawa (x2), Toronto (x4), Winnipeg (x1)
The Flames’ tragic number is 9.5 – any combination of 9.5 Flames losses or Canadiens wins eliminate the Flames from playoff contention. (Overtime losses count as 0.5 losses for Calgary and 0.5 wins for Montreal.)
The Flames’ magic number is 17.5 – any combination of 17.5 Flames wins or Canadiens losses eliminate the Flames from playoff contention. (Overtime losses count as 0.5 losses for Montreal and 0.5 wins for Calgary.)
(The magic/tragic number is inflated by 0.5 due to the regulation win tiebreaker still being in play in both directions.)
With as many games as each team has, especially the trio of head-to-head games remaining, there are a lot of different things that could happen. We’ll walk through a few possible scenarios.
What if Montreal goes .500 in their remaining games?
That would trim down Calgary’s tragic number to 2.5, which means the Flames would be eliminated if they lost two games. Bear in mind that the Habs are a .560 team over the first 42 games of the season.
What if Calgary goes .500 in their remaining games?
That would trim down the tragic number to 3.5, which means the Flames would be eliminated if Montreal won four times (in their remaining 14 games). Bear in mind that the Flames are a sub-.500 team over the first 44 games of the season.
What if the Flames win all three games left against Montreal in regulation?
This wouldn’t do anything to their elimination number, but it would cut Montreal’s runway to clinch down to 11 games.
This would cut the Flames’ magic number to clinch down to 11.5, though, and give them a somewhat reasonable pathway to a spot given how much Montreal plays against Toronto and Edmonton.
What if the Flames win all their remaining games?
This is unlikely, but let’s get crazy. If Montreal won 9.5 of their remaining 14 games, it doesn’t matter what the Flames do. The Flames could go on a tear of all tears, but if Montreal won 9.5 of their 11 non-Calgary games, it would not make a difference.
Winning all their remaining games cuts the Flames’ magic number down to 5.5. They’d need Montreal to lose six times to make the playoffs.
In other words…
Long story short: the Flames aren’t out of it yet. But they’re not exactly in it, either. They need to go on a bit of a heater and would still need Montreal to go ice-cold over the last chunk of their schedule.