The Calgary Flames’ playoff math becomes almost impossible if they lose to Winnipeg

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
The Calgary Flames lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in regulation on Tuesday night by a 4-3 score. The loss did not completely snuff out the Flames’ flickering playoff hopes, but it put them firmly on the brink heading into Wednesday night’s tussle with the Winnipeg Jets.
To get a sense of how fraught things are, let’s dive into the math. (And we’ll try to keep things relatively simple.)
Through 78 games, the Flames have a record of 36-27-15 and 87 points. With four games left, the maximum points they can reach is 95. If the Flames win their remaining games in regulation, they will finish with 33 regulation wins (tiebreaker 1), 38 regulation/overtime wins (tiebreaker 2) and 40 wins (tiebreaker 3).
Through 77 games, the Jets have a record of 43-31-3 and 89 points. With five games remaining, the Jets would eliminate the Flames from playoff contention if they can clinch a tie in points with them – the Jets already have 41 regulation/overtime wins and have clinched the second tiebreaker – and so if the Jets get to 95 points, regardless of what the Flames do, they eliminate Calgary.
Based on that, the Flames’ tragic number is 3 – any combination of Calgary losses or Winnipeg wins adding up to 3 eliminates Calgary. (Calgary or Winnipeg overtime losses reduce that number by 0.5.) Put differently: six points gained by Winnipeg or missed out on by Calgary eliminates the Flames.
On the other hand, if the Flames can clinch being one point ahead of Winnipeg, they clinch a playoff spot. With that math in mind, their magic number is 6.5 – any combination of Winnipeg losses or Calgary wins adding up to 6.5 eliminates Winnipeg. (Again, Calgary or Winnipeg overtime losses reduce that number by 0.5.) Put differently: 13 points gained by Calgary or missed out on by Winnipeg clinches a playoff spot for the Flames.
Now obviously 6.5 is a much larger number than 3. But the numbers can swing fairly drastically based on the outcome of Wednesday’s game:
  • A Flames regulation win reduces their magic number to 4.5 (and keeps their tragic number at 3).
  • A Flames regulation loss drops their tragic number to 1 (and keeps their magic number at 6.5).
Every Flames game from here on out is virtually a must-win, but Wednesday in Winnipeg is the most must-win game of them all. If the Flames lose, their playoff math becomes essentially untenable.

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