Examining the Calgary Flames’ playoff hopes with 10 games remaining

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
When it comes to the playoff aspirations of the Calgary Flames, we have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that, much like Pearl Jam’s 1991 breakout hit, the Flames remain alive. However, the bad news is that their path to mathematical elimination is much clearer than their path to a playoff spot.
Let’s dive in.
With 10 games remaining, the Flames have 32 wins (26 in regulation) and 79 points. The most regulation wins they can earn is 36 and the most points they can earn is 99.
When the Flames cannot finish higher in the Western Conference standings than ninth – in other words, when they cannot mathematically pass either of the wildcard teams – they’re eliminated. Chasing Winnipeg, as the eighth place team, the Flames have an elimination number of 8.5: any combination of Winnipeg wins or Flames losses reduce that number by 1, while Winnipeg or Flames overtime points lower that number by 0.5. Similarly, if the Flames cannot beat the Jets on the regulation wins tiebreaker, then the number drops by 0.5.
Now, the opposite is also true. When the Flames cannot finish out of the top eight in the West – when they cannot be passed in the standings and therefore are guaranteed a wildcard berth, they would clinch a playoff spot. Now, for that to happen, the Flames need to be guaranteed to finish ahead of two of three teams: Nashville, Winnipeg and Seattle.
The Flames’ have the following magic numbers against these teams:
  • Winnipeg: 12.5
  • Nashville: 13
  • Seattle: 15.5
Again, like with the elimination number, Flames wins and losses by each of these teams reduce the magic number by 1 apiece. (And OT losses by 0.5.) If the Flames clinch the regulation wins tiebreaker against any of those teams, the number would also drop by 0.5 against the appropriate team(s).
So how realistic are these hopes? Well, let’s combine the magic and elimination numbers along with the games remaining for the teams the Flames are chasing…
MagicEliminationGames Left
Between the Flames and Jets, there are 20 combined games left to be played. Based on that number, yeah, it seems plausible that the Flames could catch the Jets. But here’s the challenge of the Flames’ math: with 10 games left, the Flames could potentially win the remainder of their games – which would include beating the Jets in their head-to-head meeting – and if the Jets win the other nine games on their schedule, the Flames would be eliminated.
So yeah, the Flames remain mathematically alive – and that’s a fine place to be. But their fate is very much not in their hands, and they’ll need to take care of business, and get a lot of help on the out-of-town scoreboard, in order to punch their ticket to the post-season.

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