A Realistic Evaluation of Flames Playoff Chances

With the recent six game winning streak, the Flames bandwagon has almost filled back up again and most of the calls to "blow it up good" have quieted down. Short of the bookies assessment though, I wanted to take a closer look at what the Flames chances to get in the playoffs are so I know how crushed/elated to be in April. I will base my assement on a) how close they really are to a playoff spot and b) how good they are in relation to the teams they are battling for a playoff spot. For a) I am going to use the point percentage after the Atlanta game. For b) I am going to look at the Corsi% with the score close and score tied from this season from Objective NHL. Results after the Jump.

The first thing is to define the relevant teams we are looking at. In my mind the teams from 4 to 14 are separated by 10 points today. I refer to them as the "Clump" because it is ridiculously close. The point percentage rankings of the Clump are as follows:

NSH - 0.587

MIN - 0.578

SJS - 0.577

CHI - 0.569

ANA - 0.566

LAK - 0.558

PHX - 0.557

COL - 0.549

CGY - 0.547

STL - 0.520

CLB - 0.510

So, Calgary's six game win streak has given them some clearance over St. Louis and Columbus and moved them within striking distance of Colorado, and maybe Phoenix and LA, but still a considerable distance between Anaheim and above. The 0.547 to 0.566 (Anaheim's rate, who would be the last playoff spot as shown here) spread over a season is the difference of about a 93 point to a 90 point season. Not insurmountable, but we are playing from behind. Is Calgary likely to make up that difference?

Here are the Corsi% at EV with the score close and the score tied (from here)for the Clump:

NSH - 0.512 - 0.526

MIN - 0.464 - 0.478

SJS - 0.525 - 0.499

CHI - 0.534 - 0.540

ANA - 0.433 - 0.450

LAK - 0.510 - 0.509

PHX - 0.521 - 0.524

COL - 0.479 - 0.477

CGY - 0.524 - 0.526

STL - 0.524 - 0.524

CLB - 0.512 - 0.495

Based on this Calgary is a good bet to pass Colorado and make up ground on Minnesota and Anaheim - although Anaheim has been riding Hiller's Save Percentage (0.946 at EV with the score tied) like a rented mule so let's all hope he blows a hip or something). We might be able to pick up ground on LA and San Jose, but that is a much tighter call (the differential for SJS from score close to score tied is very intriguing). It would seem the Flames are unlikely to make up ground against Phoenix, Chicago or Nashville as their rates appear very similar to Calgary's. I don't see a material risk of either St. Louis or Columbus passing the Flames.

The bottom line is Calgary is still a long shot (less than 50/50) in my estimation to make the playoffs as we would have to pass Colorado, Minnesota, LA and one of Phoenix or San Jose or Anaheim. They are still in a position where they have to make up points against teams that have not been that much better or worse than them. I am pulling for them, but if they don't make it shouldn't come as a great cosmic surprise.

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