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Don’t tell me the odds: breaking down the Calgary Flames playoff and draft lottery math

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
24 days ago
The Calgary Flames have played 70 games and have 12 games remaining – five home and seven road – before their regular season concludes.
As the season winds down, let’s take a look at the standings math the Flames face in terms of playoff contention, playoff elimination, and the draft lottery.

Flames playoff contention

You don’t need to be a math whiz to figure out that the Flames’ playoff chances aren’t great. When Vegas cannot finish ahead of the Flames in the standings, then the Flames will have clinched a spot. (We’re ignoring the existence of St. Louis and Minnesota, for now, because it makes life and the math simpler.)
Vegas’ maximum possible point total is 107. For the Flames to get 108 points, and be guaranteed to finish ahead of Vegas, they’d need 37 points. Therefore, 37 points gained by the Flames or possible points lost by Vegas – the equivalent of 18.5 Flames wins and/0r Vegas losses – results in a Flames playoff berth.
So how unlikely is that? Uh, pretty unlikely.
The Flames could win all 12 of their remaining games and still miss the playoffs. (Vegas would have to lose 6.5 of their 12 remaining games for the Flames to clinch in this scenario.) Conversely, Vegas could lose all 12 of their remaining games and still finish ahead of the Flames unless the Flames also win 6.5 of their 12 remaining games. (And if either of these scenarios happened, undoubtedly one of St. Louis or Minnesota would grab Vegas’ spot ahead of the Flames since they’re closer to  the cut line than Calgary is.)

Flames playoff elimination

The math here is simpler. When the Flames can’t pass Vegas in the standings, then the Flames will have been eliminated from post-season contention.
The Flames’ maximum possible point total is 95. For Vegas to get 96 points, and be guaranteed to finish ahead of the Flames, they’d need 13 points. Therefore, 13 points gained by Vegas or possible points lost by the Flames – the equivalent of 6.5 Vegas wins and/0r Flames losses – results in the Flames being eliminated from the playoffs.

Draft lottery contention

Alright, now for what a lot of you have been asking for on social media: draft lottery positioning.
Heading into Monday’s games, the Flames have a .507 points percentage and are 10th from the bottom in the NHL’s overall standings.
San Jose can top out at 64 points and Chicago at 67 points, so the Flames cannot finish below them in the standings. Similarly, the lottery math doesn’t look great for Anaheim (74 points maximum) or Columbus (80 points maximum).
However, seemingly everybody else in the bottom 10 seems like a team that could potentially catch the Flames if they got hot for a week or two. Consequently, the Flames have pretty realistic chances at the 5th to 10th-best draft lottery odds, and somewhere between a 3.5% and 8.5% chance to get the first overall pick.
As things progress, we’ll keep providing updates on this analysis with how the math looks in all three races.

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