The Calgary Flames are feeling better about their game, but their schedule gets brutal for the next month

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
7 months ago
Coming out of the National Hockey League’s American Thanksgiving off-day, we have bad news, good news and variable news for fans of the Calgary Flames.
The bad news is the Flames aren’t presently in the playoff spot coming off a loss to Nashville. The good news is despite that poor effort and result on Wednesday evening, the Flames are generally in fine form – especially compared to how they looked early on – and certainly look like a team that could be a tough opponent for the remainder of the season.
The variable news is that the Flames’ schedule gets downright brutal between now and Christmas. We’re not characterizing it as good or bad news, because the hockey world should have some clarity about what the Flames are (and where they’re going) after the next 15 games. We’re all about to learn a lot about the 2023-24 Flames as they play 15 games over the next 30 days.
Here’s a rundown of their hectic, challenging schedule (current points percentage of opponent listed):
  • November 24 (Friday): On the road in Dallas (.722)
  • November 25 (Saturday): On the road in Colorado (.667)
  • November 27 (Monday): At home against Vegas (.750)
  • November 30 (Thursday): At home against Dallas (.722)
(Yes, there’s a four-game stretch where Colorado is the weakest team in the standings that they’ll face.)
  • December 2 (Saturday): At home against Vancouver (.675)
  • December 5 (Tuesday): At home against Minnesota (.412)
  • December 7 (Thursday): At home against Carolina (.611)
  • December 9 (Saturday): At home against New Jersey (.500)
(This four-game stretch isn’t awful, especially with no travel, but the alternating of “tough” and “weaker” opponents has the potential to create so-called “trap” games. Teams can get emotionally revved up for games against rivals like Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver, but Minnesota on a Tuesday night is a classic “trap” game.)
  • December 11 (Monday): On the road in Colorado (.667)
  • December 12 (Tuesday): On the road in Vegas (.750)
  • December 14 (Thursday): On the road in Minnesota (.412)
(A Colorado/Vegas back-to-back is tough. Adding travel is tougher. And tacking on a visit to Minnesota – all due respect, but “a Thursday night in Minnesota” is another “trap” game – and it has the potential to be a grind of a week.)
  • December 16 (Saturday): At home against Tampa Bay (.575)
  • December 18 (Monday): At home against Florida (.658)
(Back home, and it’s not like the Lightning and Panthers are any good, right? Right?)
  • December 21 (Thursday): On the road in Anaheim (.474)
  • December 23 (Saturday): On the road in Los Angeles (.735)
(And we’ll see what the Flames have left in the tank when they face a scrappy Ducks team and a flat-out very good Kings squad before flying back home for their Christmas break.)
The next 15 games see the Flames play five games against teams with records above .700, five more against teams between .600 and .700, and just three against teams that are below .500. The travel isn’t that bad, with a bunch of home games in the mix, but their schedule still features two separate instances where they play three games in three cities over four nights. That will definitely test their depth and resolve.
The Flames were quite bad early on, and they’ve been quite good of late. The hockey world – and heck, probably the Flames themselves – have been pondering just how good the team actually is this season. Well, the schedule between now and Christmas will probably give the Flames (and their fans) the greatest gift of all: clarity.
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