How far are the Calgary Flames out of a playoff spot?

Photo credit:© Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
5 months ago
The Calgary Flames were kinda lousy to start the season, getting out to a 2-7-1 start over their first 10 games. Since then, they’ve been much, much better, winning 18 of their past 33 games. After getting significantly behind the eight-ball to begin the campaign, the Flames have gotten back into the post-season conversation.
So how far out of a playoff spot are the Flames, really?

How far out of a playoff spot are the Flames?

Well, it depends how you measure it.
In terms of just points, Edmonton is tied with Seattle with 47 points, but the Oilers hold the playoff spot by virtue of playing fewer games. So the Flames, with 45 points, are two points back of Edmonton.
But Edmonton’s played four fewer games than the Flames, so points percentage is probably the better measure of the playoff race. Let’s sort the spots the Flames are chasing entirely on points percentage below.

Pacific playoff spots

Los Angeles.6154820

Wildcard playoff spots

St. Louis.5384321
So the Flames are chasing Nashville for the last spot, on points percentage, and they’re 4 points behind the Predators for the final spot with the two teams even in games played.

What pace do the Flames need to have a chance?

Over at The Athletic, Dom Luszczyszyn’s model has the final Western Conference playoff spot falling around 91 points – heading into Saturday’s games, he had the Flames, Seattle, Minnesota and Nashville within a point of that final spot, finishing with between 90 and 91 points apiece.
Through 43 games, the Flames have 45 points (a .523 pace). To reach 91 points after 82 games, they need 46 points over their remaining 39 games (a .589 pace). Compared to how it looked even a few weeks ago, the math isn’t quite as scary as it could have been. A .589 pace is considerably better than the Flames have sustained so far this season, but it doesn’t seem insurmountable. Heck, over their past 33 games they’ve played at a .606 pace.
If you think that’s representative of the Flames’ real potential, they have a shot.

Is making the playoffs still a possibility?

Sure! It’s not necessarily a likely or probable scenario, but it wouldn’t be the craziest thing.
Don’t forget about strength of schedule, in terms of how tough the Flames’ schedule has been and how (relatively) easy it’s going to get. Luszczyszyn recently broke down the relative strengths of the teams that NHL clubs have already faced and have left. He noted that the Flames have the ninth-easiest remaining schedule, and also have one that skews towards home dates.
The Flames will be trying to catch four of the following five teams: Edmonton, Nashville, Seattle, St. Louis and Arizona. And they’ll try to avoid being caught by Minnesota. The Flames have seven games left against the teams they’re battling with for a playoff spot.
Oh, and they have nine games left against the NHL’s six worst teams. (They’ll have to beat the Chicagos and Anaheims and San Joses, but they have those games left.)
Over the past 10 weeks, the Flames have only made up one point in the playoff chase – they’ve gone from five back to four back. October set them up for an uphill battle for the rest of the season. And yeah, they have to climb over four teams to make it into a playoff spot. But they have a good enough record, and enough games left against the teams they’re chasing, that you can’t write them off just yet.

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