The Stanley Cup playoffs start in six days and everybody wants to know who the Calgary Flames are playing in the first round? Well, folks, the possibilities are down to three teams.
Nashville sits in the first wildcard position in the West and, as such, would play the Flames (the lower-ranked of the two Western division winners) if the playoffs began today. Nashville has 94 points with three games left (100 points is their potential high point) and they have 35 regulation wins, 41 regulation/overtime wins and 44 wins total, which cover the three major tiebreakers.
Nashville plays Calgary, Colorado and Arizona. They’ll clinch a date with Calgary if they get five points, if Dallas loses out on five potential points, or some combination of the two. If they and Dallas finish with the same point total, Nashville will finish ahead of Dallas because of the regulation wins tiebreaker. They clinch a playoff spot with their next win or Vegas’ next regulation loss.
Dallas sits in the second wildcard position in the West and is in line for a date with Colorado, the higher-ranked of the two Western division winners. They have 93 points with three games left (99 points is their potential high point) and they have 30 regulation wins, 40 regulation/overtime wins, and 44 wins overall.
Dallas plays Vegas, Arizona and Anaheim. Their game with Vegas tonight is crucial… for Vegas. If Dallas wins in regulation, Dallas and Nashville clinch (and Vegas is eliminated). To play the Flames, Dallas would need to get two more points than Nashville does from their three remaining games – again, because of tiebreakers, Nashville would be ahead of Dallas if they were tied in points.
Vegas Golden Knights
Vegas, once thought the powerhouse in the Pacific Division, is on the outside looking in. They have 90 points with three games left (96 points is their potential high point) and they have 33 regulation wins, 38 regulation/overtime wins and 42 wins overall.
Vegas plays Dallas, Chicago and St. Louis. To get in, they basically have to win out and hope Dallas doesn’t win their other two games. To face Calgary, Vegas would need to win out and hope Nashville doesn’t get more than one regulation win (and loses their other two games in regulation).
Long story short: Nashville is the most likely Flames opponent, though Dallas is a possibility. Vegas is a long-shot.
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