Calgary Flames schedule predictions for season stretch run
Yes, playoff spot hopes require the Flames to do markedly better than play .500 hockey.
Let's play a game. Let's play 'the Calgary Flames beat the odds and make the playoffs.'
Yes, it'll require the Flames to do markedly better than play .500 hockey. It would mean significant sags by both the Winnipeg Jets and the Nashville Predators, the Flames' immediate rivals for the final Western wildcard playoff spot who are five and one points ahead of Calgary in the standings.
Let's say the Flames have to win about two-thirds of their remaining 14 games to do that, so 10 of them.
A tall order, I know.
The 30-24-14 Flames have been playing at a .500 clip since the start of the calendar year.
They haven't strung three wins together since early December.
In fact, they've accomplished that just twice this season, the other time being the first three games of the 2022-23 NHL campaign in mid-October.
But let's say they do it anyway. It'll mean they'll have to beat at least three teams ahead of them in the standings AND stop losing to those below them. It would also mean they could really use a win streak of three or dare I say more.
They have seven games against those above them and seven against those below.
There's nothing like a creeping deadline to spur sudden miracles, right?
Let's break the schedule down and see how that could happen.
Golden Knights defenceman Alex Pietrangelo
March 16: at Vegas Golden Knights
Considering the Flames hadn't even registered a point ever in the standings from a game in Sin City until last month's 4-3 overtime loss to the hosts, let's predict this one will be a straight-up loss.
Score: Golden Knights 4 Flames 1. 'Final 14' record: 0-1. Overall record: 30-25-14
Dallas Stars players celebra
March 18: vs. Dallas Stars
The Flames will be hosting the Stars two days after Dallas plays against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers while Calgary is, of course, coming off a predicted loss.
Thing is, the Oilers are a little unpredictable, too, and will probably be feeling a little smug after taking the Ottawa Senators to the woodshed on Tuesday, so the Stars will likely win at Rogers Place, setting them up for a trap game.
Enough time has passed, too, since Calgary's last-second win in Dallas. Flames take this one.
Predicted score: Flames 3 Stars 2. 'Final 14' record: 1-1. Overall record: 31-25-14
March 20: at Los Angeles Kings
After a quick one-game stand at the Saddledome, it's right back to the road, this time games on back-to-back nights in southern California, starting with those amazing Los Angeles Kings, who've been in the Western playoff mix all season long.
The Pacific Division rivals have split two games so far this season, with the Flames winning in regulation in a November home date and the Kings taking an overtime decision at The Crypt three days before Christmas. They'll keep it close again with the Flames taking it in OT.
Predicted score: Flames 4 Kings 3 (OT). 'Final 14' record: 2-1. Overall record: 32-25-14
March 21: at Anaheim Ducks
C'mon, it's the lowly Ducks.
Their goal differential is almost minus 100.
They're very much in the Connor Bedard draft lottery race.
Still, as of this writing, they have a record of 5-3-2 in their last 10 games.
No matter. The Flames seize the opportunity, feeling good in the glow of the previous night's victory in L.A. and not wanting to trip up yet again to an inferior rival.
Predicted score: Flames 5 Ducks 2. 'Final 14' record: 3-1. Overall record: 33-25-14
March 23: vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Wanting to keep the win streak going and seeking revenge for last week's predicted loss in Vegas, the Flames come out, play tight defensively and shut down the still-Mark Stone-less Golden Knights.
And there it is: Calgary's first win streak beyond three games this season.
Predicted score: Flames 4 Golden Knights 2. 'Final 14' record: 4-1. Overall record: 34-25-14
Recent NHL Battle of the Basement
March 25: vs. San Jose Sharks
OK, now I'm going out on a limb. FIVE wins in a row? Who are these guys, the Vancouver Canucks?
But that's what the Flames do, beat the visiting Sharks for a fifth straight 'W'. Because the Sharks are worse than the Ducks.
Just hope for Calgary's, the rest of the Pacific Division's and, really, the entire league's sake that Bedard doesn't fall to one of the Ducks and the Sharks in the lottery.
Bedard, McDavid and Eichel in the same division? Yikes.
Predicted score: Flames 5 Sharks 0. 'Final 14' record: 5-1. Overall record: 35-25-14
March 28: vs. Los Angeles Kings
What's the saying … all good things come to an end? That's it.
And that's what happens to the Flames, who are maybe a little too pleased with themselves and relaxed after a couple of days off at home with the Kings coming in looking for revenge for last week's OT loss in L.A.
Plus the Kings are in their own Pacific dogfight with Vegas, Seattle and Edmonton for the playoffs' pecking order.
Predicted score: Kings 4 Flames 2. 'Final 14' record: 5-2. Overall record: 35-26-14
Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller
March 31: at Vancouver Canucks
The Flames haven't faced the Canucks in what seems like forever.
The last time Calgary face Vancouver was on New Years' Eve in a 3-2 Flames win. The Canucks are a bit of a different team now with Rick Tocchet in as head coach, replacing Bruce Boudreau.
It'll be a close game, with the hosts clipping their guest in OT.
Don't worry, though: the rematch is coming up next week.
Predicted score: Canucks 3 Flames 2 (OT). 'Final 14' record: 5-2-1. Overall record: 35-26-15
April 2: vs. Anaheim Ducks
Not only are they drifting to the NHL finish line this season, they've got back-to-back nights in Alberta starting in Edmonton on April 1 followed by a date in Calgary with the Flames, who'll be out of sorts from dropping an OT decision to their Western Canadian rivals in Vancouver.
Predicted score: Flames 4 Ducks 1. 'Final 14' record: 6-2-1. Overall record: 37-26-15
April 4: vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Look, another one of those draft lottery hopefuls on the Flames docket. Not so fast. Chicago recently beat the NHL's top team, the Boston Bruins. If that can happen, anything's possible.
Predicted score: Blackhawks 4 Flames 2 'Final 14' record: 6-3-1. Overall record: 37-27-15
April 5: at Winnipeg Jets
Shocked at their … misfortune? Indifferent play? Bad luck? … against the visiting Blackhawks the night before and facing a team they need to beat in order to have a hope at a playoff spot, the Flames conjure up a clutch victory over host Winnipeg.
After all, my scenario calls for the Flames to sneak into the playoffs at expense of both Winnipeg and Nashville. And besides, the Jets have been sputtering along much like the Flames have most of the year (until now for Calgary, that is).
Predicted score: Flames 4 Jets 1. 'Final 14' record: 7-3-1. Overall record: 38-27-15
April 8: at Vancouver Canucks
Some team bonding on the road and desiring revenge for a loss in the same barn last week, the Flames take care of business on this night in lotus land.
Predicted score: Flames 5 Canucks 2. 'Final 14' record: 8-3-1. Overall record: 39-27-15
April 10: vs. Nashville Predators
Now, I'd expect the Predators to be very much alive in the playoff race by this point. A part of me even wants to say this game would go to overtime.
But I don't want any loser points right now. My prediction has the Flames in the post-season, remember?
It'll be close but decided in regulation because I said so!
Predicted score: Flames 4 Predators 3. 'Final 14' record: 9-3-1. Overall record: 40-27-15
April 12: vs. San Jose Sharks
It's down to the last game, and the NHL schedule-maker couldn't have been any kinder to the Flames: the sad-sack Sharks.
Maybe Erik Karlsson gets a hat-trick, but maybe, too, do Tyler Toffoli and Jonathan Huberdeau. That'd be a great way to get primed for the playoffs.
Predicted score: Flames 7 Sharks 3. 'Final 14' record: 10-3-1. Overall record: 41-27-15
Again, given their record, their untimely losses to inferior-on-paper teams and their inability to string consecutive wins together, it's unlikely to happen.
Even if Calgary beats all seven of the teams below them in the standings over their remaining 14 games, they'd need to win three of seven over rivals above them and collect at least one loser point in order to finish with 95 points, often the magic number for teams qualifying for the postseason.
Miracles do happen, though.