The magnitude of Sunday’s overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks cannot be overstated, as it pushed the Flames further down the playoff ladder with an arduous climb ahead.
Assuming the 96-point plateau will be the cutoff in the Western Conference, the Flames need to go 6-2 or better in their remaining eight games and hope the teams ahead of them stumble down the stretch.
But what are the odds of that happening?
According to sportsclubstats.com, surrendering an extra point to Anaheim reduced Calgary’s chances of making the post-season by nearly eight percent and they now have only a 21.8-percent shot at qualifying for the big dance. Although if they win their next game in regulation versus Los Angeles, it shoots back up to 34 percent.
In comparison, Chicago currently has an 88.4 percent chance, L.A. 85.6, Nashville 80.6, Dallas 69.3 and Anaheim 62.1.
With fewer wins than all those teams and more games played, how can the Flames possibly bypass the unfavourable probability of their current situation?
For starters, they’ve got to put destiny in their own hands and essentially run the table. While going 6-2 could potentially vault Calgary into a playoff position, a 6-1-1 or 7-1 run is a more realistic target.
As difficult as that seems, the Flames aren’t too far removed from a similar stretch in late January, where they went 7-0-1 while facing tough competition in Nashville (twice), Vancouver, L.A., Chicago and Dallas.
With games remaining against the playoff-situated Sharks, Ducks, Kings and Canucks and the basement-dwelling Oilers (twice), Avalanche and Blues, the Flames are in a familiar position and need to dig deep to produce a similar result.
At the same time, they need two or more of the teams within striking distance to go sub-.500 the rest of the way.
All three games against Anaheim have needed an extra period, while one of their three contests against L.A. has extended to sudden death. And to make matters worse, they lost all four of those matches.
Fortunately, the Ducks and Stars have also underperformed away from home and the majority of their remaining games are on the road.
But the Flames can’t rely on others to do their dirty work and do-or-die time starts Monday in Los Angeles where the task is magnified, having won only three out of 10 times on the second night of back-to-back games.
Nobody said it was going to be easy, but the race is far from over.