Against seemingly all odds, the Calgary Flames somehow find themselves right in the middle of a playoff race as the season comes to a close. After a 2–1 win over the surging Los Angeles Kings combined with a Jets loss to the Sharks, the Flames are now just two points out of the second Western conference wild card spot. With seven games left on the schedule, the Flames still have a shot at sneaking into the playoffs.
In order to do that however, they need to finally take advantage of their schedule. Since about the midway point of the season, the Flames have had one of the easiest schedules in the NHL. Despite this, they’ve managed to throw away numerous points in the standings against the league’s worst teams time and time again. With five of the teams remaining seven games coming against bottom-10 teams, it’s now or never for the Flames.
Let’s take a look at how they’ve fared against the bottom 10 since the last time we checked, and how that compares to their competition when it comes to the final playoff spot.
Calgary Flames record versus the bottom 10
As a refresher when we last looked at these numbers, the Flames had a combined 8–4–4 record against the then bottom 10 teams. Let’s see how they’ve fared since then against the current bottom 10.
(Since Jan. 31st)
|Columbus Blue Jackets||–||–|
|San Jose Sharks||1–0–0||0|
|Detroit Red Wings||0–2–0||4|
|St. Louis Blues||–||–|
The Flames have only played against five of the current bottom 10 since January 31st, but boy oh boy was it a mess. They dropped points against four of the five teams they played, and really only handled their business against the Sharks in the one game they played. Calgary had some difficulties with the other teams they faced leading to plenty of valuable points being left on the table.
If you recall, the Flames dropped two games in regulation to the Red Wings within a seven-day span back in February while being outscored 7–3. They lost an ugly 4–3 game to the Flyers in February after climbing out of a 3–1 hole only to give up a late goal in regulation. In perhaps one of the ugliest losses of the season, the Flames mustered up just one goal at home in a 3–1 loss to the Ducks that got them booed off the ice. Finally, just a couple weeks ago they outshot the Coyotes 45–25 and tied the game with five minutes left only to lose in OT.
Overall, here’s what the Flames’ record against the bottom 10 looks since January 31.
|RECORD (Since Jan. 31st)||POINTS %||DROPPED POINTS|
That’s just painful to look at, especially when you consider the Flames are just three points out of a playoff spot (Winnipeg holds the tiebreaker). When we last looked at this on January 31, the Flames’ record against the bottom 10 was 8–4–4 or a .625 points percentage. During the most important stretch of the season they’ve somehow played even worse against the league’s worst teams. When you’re fighting tooth and nail for the final playoff spot and you’ve dropped nine points over the last two months against bottom 10 teams, it’s hard to stomach.
So overall this season how does the Flames’ record look against the current bottom 10 in the NHL? Here it is in full.
|RECORD||POINTS %||DROPPED POINTS|
Their overall record against the current bottom 10 looks slightly better, but still not great. They’re sitting just above .500 when it comes to points percentage due to the plethora of OT/SO losses. However if we look at just wins and losses, they’ve managed to lose more games to the bottom 10 than they’ve won. This has led to the Flames dropping a massive 21 points against bottom 10 teams this season. Again, it’s painful to look at these numbers knowing who close the Flames are to the playoffs right now.
Wild card contenders versus the bottom 10
With the Flames in such a tight playoff race and fumbling opportunities against the league’s worst teams, it’s worth looking at how the teams around them have fared. Here are how the three other teams fighting for a wild card spot in the West have looked against the bottom 10 this year.
|TEAM||RECORD (Since Jan. 31st)||POINTS %||DROPPED POINTS|
It’s fair to say the Flames owe the Jets a huge thank-you for keeping their playoff hopes alive. Despite how bad the Flames have been against the league’s worst teams since January 31, the Jets have been just as bad as they’re barely sitting at .500. If they lose their next game against a bottom 10 team, they’ll be tied with the Flames with nine points dropped.
Meanwhile both the Predators and especially the Kraken are taken care of business when it comes to the easy matchups on their schedule. The Predators have played three more games against the league’s bottom 10 since January 31 compared to the Flames, but have dropped two fewer points. It’s the main reason they’re just one point behind the Flames with a game in hand.
The Kraken have dominated the league’s worst teams, sitting with an 9-1 record since January 31. Unsurprisingly they’re safely sitting in the first wild card spot in the West and have all but locked up a playoff spot. They’ve dropped just two points in nine games.
So how about if we look at the entire season and how each wild card contender has done against the bottom 10 teams? Let’s see how the Flames stack up.
|TEAM||RECORD||POINTS %||DROPPED POINTS|
Once again the Flames are the worst of the bunch, as they have the worst points percentage, most losses, and most dropped points against the bottom 10 teams. This despite playing two fewer games against the bottom 10 than both Nashville and Winnipeg. The Flames’ 21 dropped points are four more than the next worst team, and six more than the team they’re chasing in the Jets. Those six dropped points look massive when you’re only two points behind in the standings.
If the Flames matched even Nashville’s points percentage against the bottom 10, they’d have five more points in the standings right now and be firmly in a playoff spot. To say the Flames have shot themselves in the foot this season would be an understatement.
Meanwhile the Jets overall record really shows how it’s been a tale of two seasons in Winnipeg, as the Jets were an outstanding 15–4–1 against the league’s worst teams before January 31. Their tailspin has very much kept the Flames hopes alive.
Remaining games against the bottom 10
|TEAM||GAMES REMAINING AGAINST THE BOTTOM-10|
|Calgary Flames||5 of 7|
|Winnipeg Jets||2 of 7|
|Nashville Predators||1 of 10|
If the Flames want to finally start doing their job against the bottom 10 teams in the league, now would be the time. Of their seven games remaining this season, five of them are against bottom 10 teams including their next three games in a row. That’s more than double Winnipeg and five times as many as Nashville who have just one more game against a bottom 10 team.
The Flames by far have the easiest schedule remaining among the teams still in the running for the last wild card spot, it’s up to them to take advantage of it. At this point, if the Flames miss the playoffs they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire