The Calgary Flames find themselves in the middle of the Western Conference Wild Card race. With just a few games remaining in the regular season, The Win Column will be mapping out the current playoff picture and assessing how the Flames would be able to punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs over the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets.
With just seven games left in the regular season, one could argue that the Calgary Flames are running on a bit of a hot streak. Of course the team has been known to put together a few good games, and then fall back into their poor tendencies, but tonight they have the opportunity to win three games in a row since December.
Yikes, that’s a long time.
With the Nashville Predators falling 2–0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins last night, they now just hold one game in hand over both the Flames and Jets. What’s key for the Flames right now is that they trail both the Jets and Predators in the regulation win tiebreak—Calgary needs to simply finish the season with more points than both teams to earn a spot.
Super logical right? It may seem like a redundant statement, but with so many overtime losses they wouldn’t sneak in even if tied with either team. With so many crucial games remaining, this will go down to the wire.
Here is how things shake out today:
|83 Points||85 Points||82 Points|
|@ VAN||vs DET||vs STL|
|vs ANA||vs NJ||@ DAL|
|vs CHI||vs CGY||vs VGK|
|@ WIN||vs NSH||vs CAR|
|@ VAN||vs SJ||@ WIN|
|vs NSH||@ MIN||@ CGY|
|vs SJ||@ COL||vs MIN|
Winnipeg has the clear edge right now with the two extra points, but Nashville gets the extra game which makes things very interesting. All that being said, the Flames simply have to win and get some help at the same time to make the math work.
Calgary’s path to the playoffs
As it stands right now, here is our best guess (or highly intelligent mapping) of how the Flames would be able to sneak into the wild card:
|@ VAN||2||vs DET||2||vs STL||2|
|vs ANA||2||vs NJ||1||@ DAL||2|
|vs CHI||2||vs CGY||0||vs VGK||0|
|@ WIN||2||vs NSH||2||vs CAR||0|
|@ VAN||0||vs SJ||2||@ WIN||0|
|vs NSH||1||@ MIN||0||@ CGY||2|
|vs SJ||2||@ COL||0||vs MIN||1|
|CGY POINTS||94||WIN POINTS||92||NSH POINTS||90|
Looking at the math, the margin of error is small for the Flames. In this scenario, the team gets in by just two points and that factors in them going on a six-game win streak.
The key here for the Flames is winning the game against Winnipeg as well as the bottom feeding teams. Throwing in one regulation loss against the Canucks is perhaps bold, but if you add in one more then it’s likely that Winnipeg sneaks in.
This also assumes that Winnipeg only goes 3–3–1 to end the season. If they were to win just a single one of their games against the Wild or Avalanche then the math gets even more complicated.
Here is another possibility for the teams:
|@ VAN||2||vs DET||2||vs STL||2|
|vs ANA||1||vs NJ||1||@ DAL||1|
|vs CHI||1||vs CGY||2||vs VGK||1|
|@ WIN||0||vs NSH||0||vs CAR||1|
|@ VAN||2||vs SJ||2||@ WIN||2|
|vs NSH||2||@ MIN||0||@ CGY||0|
|vs SJ||2||@ COL||0||vs MIN||2|
|CGY POINTS||93||WIN POINTS||92||NSH POINTS||92|
An even closer margin that would be far too stressful for the fan base, it could come down to Nashville’s last game of the season, scheduled to happen an agonizing two days after the Flames finish theirs. The Flames could lose in regulation to the Jets, and lose a few more overtime games, but can finish the season strong and still slip in. They would need a lot of help, but there are a few paths to success here.
What’s up next in the schedule
The Flames are in Vancouver tonight to take on the Canucks. It’s a game Calgary simply must find a way to get two points out of despite the Canucks heating up with seven wins in their last ten.
The Jets host the Red Wings in what should be an easier two points for them as the Red Wings are coming off a back-to-back with travel. That said, the Red Wings just beat the Penguins and Hurricanes, which could give them momentum against the Jets.
The Predators don’t play today after getting blanked in Pittsburgh, but will play a matinee game against the St. Louis Blues tomorrow. The Blues are a team that has seen a whole lot of offence as of late which should test the Predators’ defence.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire
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