It’s American Thanksgiving: Can the Calgary Flames beat the odds and make the playoffs?

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Justin Mackenzie
7 months ago
It’s Thanksgiving Day for our neighbours south of the border. While our American friends are eating turkey, drinking beer, and watching football all day, us Canadians are stuck at work streaming said football games on our computers with a soggy ham sandwich.
However, that isn’t the only thing to get excited about today. Over the years, American Thanksgiving has also become a significant date on the NHL calendar. At roughly the quarter mark of the season it’s a good milestone to check in on how teams are fairing while also having some pretty significant implications at a clubs chances of qualifying for the playoffs that year.
In the last 15 seasons dating back to the 2005-06 season, 184 out of 240 (76.7%) of teams in a playoff position through American Thanksgiving held on to that early success and were able to book a ticket to the playoffs. These stats (grabbed from Hockey Reference) don’t include the 2019-20 season (shortened season due to COVID-19), as well as the 2012-13 & 2020-21 seasons (both didn’t start before U.S. Thanksgiving).
Knowing these stats, I thought it would be a fun experiment to look specifically at the Calgary Flames and how they have fared compared to what was presented above. Let’s take a look at where the Flames have been in the standings through American Thanksgiving in years past and whether that correlates with making the playoffs that year:
SeasonRecord at ThanksgivingPlayoff Spot Made Playoffs
2023-247-9-3, 6th in Pacific DivisionNoN/A
 2022-23  9-7-3, 4th in Pacific DivisionYesNo
 2021-2212-3-5, 1st in Pacific DivisionYesYes
2018-1913-8-1, 1st in Pacific DivisionYesYes
2017-1812-8-1, 3rd in Pacific DivisionYesNo
2016-179-12-1, 5th in Pacific DivisionNoYes
2015-168-13-1, 6th in Pacific DivisionNoNo
2014-1514-8-2, 3rd in Pacific DivisionYesYes
2013-148-12-4, 6th in Pacific DivisionNoNo
2011-128-11-1, 12th in Pacific DivisionNoNo
2010-118-11-2, 14th in Western ConferenceNoNo
2009-1014-6-3, 4th in Western ConferenceYesNo
2008-0913-9-1, 4th in Western ConferenceYesYes
2007-089-10-3, 12th in Western ConferenceNoYes
2006-0710-8-2, 9th in Western ConferenceNoYes
2005-0614-8-2, 5th in Western ConferenceYesYes
When the Flames are in a playoff position at the Thanksgiving mark, they have made the playoffs five of eight times. That’s below the league average at 62.5%.
On a positive note for Calgary they have done a solid job of battling back after a less than stellar start, making the playoffs just over 40% of the time during those 15 seasons which is well above the average.
There have been plenty of teams that have defied these odds, most notably the 2018-19 St. Louis Blues who sat dead last in the Central Division at 7-10-3 through American Thanksgiving in 2018. As we all know, they would go on to win the Stanley Cup that season.
There’s still a ton of hockey left to play in this 2023-24 NHL season, but historically, the Flames will be fighting an uphill battle to make the playoffs for the remainder of the schedule.
Do you think the Flames will defy the odds and make the playoffs this season? Let us know in the comments!

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