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The Calgary Flames can be pushed to the verge of mathematical playoff elimination on Saturday

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Photo credit:Brett Holmes-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
18 days ago
This has been a very weird season for the Calgary Flames. Based on how the year was framed during an off-season of big changes, perhaps it was destined to be from the get-go. Amidst the excitement of a new head coach in Ryan Huska and a new general manager in Craig Conroy was the looming spectre of the club’s many, many pending unrestricted free agents and the decisions that had to be made regarding their futures.
174 days, 73 games and many trades later, the Flames cannot be mathematically eliminated from Stanley Cup playoff contention on Saturday… but it could get incredibly close.
So here’s how the math works, gang!
  • The Flames, after earning 71 points over 72 games, can reach a maximum of 91 points.
  • The Nashville Predators have earned 90 points.
  • The Vegas Golden Knights have earned 88 points.
  • The Los Angeles Kings have earned 87 points.
Five Western Conference teams have already earned more points than the Flames can obtain: Dallas (101), Colorado (98), Vancouver (98), Winnipeg (94) and Edmonton (92).
Once eight Western Conference teams cannot be passed by the Flames – as in, once Nashville, Vegas and Los Angeles are guaranteed to finish ahead of them – they’ll be officially, mathematically eliminated.
Here’s what’s on the docket for Saturday:
  • Vegas visits Minnesota at 1:30 p.m. MT
  • Nashville visits Colorado at 4 p.m. MT.
  • Los Angeles visits the Flames at 8 p.m. MT.
A Nashville win in any form gets them to 92 points. A Vegas win in any form gets them to 90 points. A Flames regulation loss lowers the maximum points they can reach to 89 points and gets Los Angeles to 89 points. If both of those things happen, the Flames would technically remain alive in the playoff chase, but only by virtue of the Kings not having clinched the standings tiebreakers on Calgary (yet). The Flames would be unable to pass Nashville or Vegas in the standings.
The 2023-24 season is the Flames’ 51st season of play since their establishment in Atlanta, and their 43rd season of play in Calgary. They’ve reached the post-season 31 times overall, and 25 times since moving to Calgary in 1980. This season is also the 19th of the salary cap era; the Flames have made the playoffs in nine of the past 18 seasons – basically, they’re batting .500 in making the playoffs since the 2004-05 lockout resulted in a salary cap.
Presuming that the Flames are unable to overcome the 17-point gap between themselves and Vegas (or the 16-point gap between themselves and Los Angeles), this will be their second season in a row missing the post-season and third season of their last four doing so. However, missing the playoffs as they embark upon a retooling process under Conroy seems like a prudent move as they attempt to accumulate assets that could turn them into a contender in the future.
As has been said, there can’t be a rainbow without a little rain. Well, we’re entering a bit of a rainy period for the Flames. We’ll see if the rainbows and sunshine on the other side end up being worth the dampness of the retooling period in the interim.
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