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

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
15 days ago
The Calgary Flames have played 73 games and have nine games remaining – four home and five road – before their regular season concludes. Last week, we provided a snapshot of the various races the Flames find themselves engaged in.
Since then they’ve played a few more games, so we thought it was time to update the math.

Flames playoff contention

Alright, let’s dive into the dire math. If the Flames win out their nine remaining games, they can reach 91 points. Technically-speaking, that means they could theoretically surpass Vegas (90 points), Nashville (90 points) or Los Angeles (87 points).
To be guaranteed to finish ahead of those teams, here’s what would need to happen:
  • Vegas: any combination of 34 points earned by the Flames and/or potential points not earned by the Golden Knights – Vegas has 8 games left
  • Nashville: any combination of 34 points earned by the Flames and/or potential points not earned by the Predators – Nashville has 8 games left
  • Los Angeles: any combination of 33 points earned by the Flames and/or potential points not earned by the Kings – Los Angeles has 9 games left
Now, if the Flames win out, that gives them 18 points. So that means to finish ahead of any of those three teams, they’d need to run the table and have Vegas or Nashville fail to gain a single point in their remaining games or have Los Angeles win any more than one game.
It seems really unlikely.

Flames playoff elimination

The Flames’ impressive victory over the Kings on Saturday night prolonged the Flames’ survival for at least a few days, but it doesn’t make the math all that much better.
The Flames’ maximum point total is 91. For the teams they’re chasing to be guaranteed to finish ahead of Calgary, they would need to reach 92 points (to avoid any tiebreaker shenanigans).
Therefore, here’s the elimination math on the teams the Flames could possibly catch:
  • Vegas: any combination of two points earned by the Golden Knights and/or potential points not earned by the Flames
  • Nashville: any combination of two points earned by the Predators and/or potential points not earned by the Flames
  • Los Angeles: any combination of five points earned by the Kings and/or potential points not earned by the Flames
Again: the Flames beating the Kings kept them technically afloat, but a regulation loss by the Flames and a Kings win of any type would push the Flames to the very brink of elimination and force them to rely on tiebreakers magic to remain mathematically alive.

Draft lottery contention

The draft lottery odds increase as you work backwards in the standings. Here’s a snapshot as of the end of Sunday’s games, with each team’s current points percentage, as well as their minimum and maximum possible points percentages.
OverallTeamPct.Min.Max.
32ndSan Jose.288.256.366
31stChicago.331.299.396
30thAnaheim.351.317.415
29thColumbus.405.366.463
28thArizona.453.409.506
27thMontreal.466.415.524
26thOttawa.479.427.537
25thSeattle.500.445.555
24thCalgary.500.445.555
In other words: the Flames mathematically cannot fall below San Jose, Chicago or Anaheim in the overall standings. And they very likely cannot call below Columbus. However, everything else remains in play, so the Flames could potentially end up with the fifth-best lottery odds.
As previously noted, the Flames have pretty realistic chances at the fifth to 10th-best draft lottery odds, and somewhere between a 3.5% and 8.5% chance to get the first overall pick. It’s also worth nothing that once the Flames cannot finish with the most points of the four potential wild card playoff teams, then the condition on their 2024 first-round pick will lapse, as they won’t be able to have a first-round selection of 20th overall or later.
As things progress, we’ll keep providing updates on this analysis with how the math looks in all three races.

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