The Calgary Flames are tied for fourth place in the Pacific Division but can leapfrog the Los Angeles Kings with a win against the Islanders today.
Ever in flux, the battle for playoff positioning heading into the stretch run has never been tighter. Receiving a point for an overtime or shootout loss has created an illusion of increased overall league parity. But here we are, with the Flames sitting on a knife’s edge, battling for every square inch with familiar Pacific foes.
If the Flames suffer defeat today, they could descend into fifth place in the division. The Ducks, who are level on 64 points with Calgary, make the short trip to San Jose in tonight’s late game.
Calgary Flames by the numbers
The Flames, 3-3-4 in their last 10, have massed 10 points over that stretch. Other than division bottom feeders – Arizona and Vancouver – only the Sharks, currently second in the division with 66 points, have as few points over a 10-game span.
It’s imperative the Flames take both points from Long Island tonight, particularly when you consider who’s next on tap.
Boston (18-7-4) and Nashville (18-5-3) are two of the best home teams in the league so Glen Gulutzan’s side can’t bank on taking points from either building. Having dominated all comers, the Bruins are one of the NHL’s most dominant outfits in recent months, staking their claim on trying to reel the Lightning in at the top of the Atlantic.
For fear of beating a dead horse, Calgary’s anaemic power play is the gravest cause for concern. The Flames have the seventh worst power play in the league, sitting at a feeble 16.8 percent success rate. Of the six lower ranked power plays, only the St. Louis Blues have a superior overall record.
Calgary scores 2.80 goals per game which has them sitting in 20th place league-wide. All three teams they’re chasing in the Pacific Division score more on average. However, Calgary score just more goals than the Ducks, who average 2.77 goals per game.
A start contrast is true in the defensive end, though, as the Flames concede 2.76 goals per game. While their league ranking is relatively high (11th), they belong to one of the most stingy defensive divisions. The Kings (2nd), Golden Knights (8th) and Sharks (9th) all allow fewer goals.
While analytics certainly have a bearing on results, accumulating points in the standings is Gulutzan’s main concern as the Flames try to usurp the Californian teams for a playoff berth.