The Calgary Flames have a more favourable schedule than Winnipeg or Nashville
Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
7 months ago
The playoff race in the vicinity of the wild card in both conferences continues to tighten as the season ends. The Calgary Flames have made things interesting, coming within two points of the Winnipeg Jets, but the Nashville Predators are also close behind with two games in hand.
Many have recognized that it doesn’t feel like any team wants that final spot. The Jets haven’t been able to separate themselves from the pack after having a relatively solid lead over Calgary and Nashville, as their record in their last 10 games is 5-5-0. However, their struggles have allowed the two back into the race.
In their last 10 games, the Flames are 6-2-2 and finally managed to string together more than two wins in a row, which may not seem like much, but it is at this stage of the season. Their win against the Vancouver Canucks didn’t come without its obstacles, but it was the first game this season they came out victorious after they trailed heading into the second intermission. Nashville isn’t as hot as the Flames, with their record in the last 10 games being 4-5-1. But they continue to win when the other two teams win, so despite the injuries and all the problems they have on the defensive end, they’re managing to keep up with the pack.
So, now that everyone is below 10 games remaining, what does each team’s schedule look like the rest of the way? The good news for Calgary fans is that the Flames have the most manageable schedule remaining of the three. Per Tankathon, they have the easiest schedule remaining in the NHL, with their final games coming against the Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks, and Predators. They also have a big game against the Jets, which could make or break their playoff hopes.
Looking at their strength of schedule, the Jets are smack dab in the middle of the strength of schedule leaderboard, sitting at 16th. They have games against Nashville and Calgary, as well as one with the Sharks. The two most challenging teams they will play to finish the season are the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild.
Finally, the Predators have the most demanding schedule of the three teams and in the NHL. Yes, they have two games in hand, but neither is against a team outside of the playoffs. Their only game against a team in that position is the Flames. They have the Jets, Wild, and Avalanche, plus the Carolina Hurricanes, Vegas Golden Knights, and Dallas Stars on the docket for the rest of 2022-23.
That’s a lot of team names and a lot of playoff talk, but the conclusion is that the Flames are in a very advantageous position in the final stretch. Not only are they finding ways to pull off wins, with two wins after being down 2-0 early, but they’re stringing them together as well. Players that have been struggling this season have started to come alive in the scoresheet or, at minimum, make tangibly better plays consistently. Andrew Mangiapane is the first person to come to mind. The usual contributors are stepping in, too. However, it’s contributions from players like Mangiapane and even someone like Milan Lucic that have helped the Flames stay in the fight.
Five games can change plenty at this stage of the regular season, and luckily for the Flames, they have the most beneficial schedule of the three teams that are competing for the last wild card spot. Whether they take advantage of that is the next question.
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