The Calgary Flames exited October in an unfamiliar position: near the top of the standings. The Flames went 6-1-1 in eight games in the month of October, putting a bow on one of the best starts to the season during Brad Treliving’s time as general manager.
It’s a good start and will arguably make life easier on them down the stretch, but it won’t guarantee anything.
For reference, here’s the first eight games of the season in prior Treliving seasons:
- 2020-21: 4-3-1
- 2019-20: 4-3-1
- 2018-19: 5-3-0
- 2017-18: 4-4-0
- 2016-17: 3-4-1
- 2015-16: 2-6-0
- 2014-15: 4-3-1
Six wins and 13 points is objectively good, and better than they’ve done in prior seasons. Historically, this October stacks up with three prior Octobers: 1978-79’s 8-0-2, 1993-94’s 8-3-2 and 2001-02’s 8-2-2. The Flames made the playoffs in 1978-79 but lost in the preliminary round. They made the playoffs in 1993-94 and lost in seven to Vancouver in the first round. They missed the playoffs entirely in 2001-02 when their great start was followed by a similarly bad mid-season slump.
A good start doesn’t guarantee anything, but it can make the path to the post-season easier.
Over the past five non-pandemic seasons – we’ll throw out last season because of the division-only schedule – the last Western playoff team had between 87 and 97 points. Let’s average it out and go with 93 points to get into the playoffs just for argument’s sake. That’s a season-long points percentage of about .567 overall.
The Flames have banked 13 points already. They need to accumulate 80 additional points over the remaining 74 games to make the playoffs, which is about a .540 points percentage. Again: that’s not to say anything’s guaranteed. The 2001-02 season saw the Flames absolutely crater down the stretch after a superb start, effectively undoing all that great October work.
The Flames had a great October. Typically they’ve been a team that’s dug themselves a hole early in the season and had to pull themselves out of it. Well, they’ve dug themselves the opposite of a hole. Now it’s up to them to follow up this great start with 74 games that will make this start actually mean something, and not just let it become a historical curiosity like 2001-02’s October performance.