We’re at that point in a season where every night off can be nerve-wracking for teams in playoff races.
The Calgary Flames watched on tonight as the Los Angeles Kings and Winnipeg Jets won significant contests, leaving the Flames outside of the West’s wild card spots as of this evening.
Let’s cut the West up to show the wild card/buffer races in a very simplified way (apologies to the likes of Dallas and San Jose, just keeping things simple here):
Pacific second spot: Vancouver – 90 points in 74 games played (update: the Colorado Avalanche beat them 4-1)
Pacific third spot: Los Angeles – 88 points in 74 games played after beating the New York Islanders 3-2
First wild card: Minnesota – 91 points in 74 games played
Second wild card: Winnipeg – 90 points in 75 games played after beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-2
Just outside the playoffs: Calgary – 87 points in 74 games played
As you can see above, the Kings’ win is the most directly relevant to Calgary, as that knocked them out of the Pacific’s third spot (and thus the playoff picture altogether).
Plenty of jostling can take place in the Pacific. In fact, the situation is fluid enough that Vancouver, Los Angeles and Calgary also must be mindful of the two Central Division teams currently holding the two wild card spots.
Simply put, today hasn’t gone well for the Flames, especially if Vancouver manages to come back against Colorado.
That said, one can simply turn to what might as well be the motto of the playoff run: there’s always tomorrow. In this specific case, Friday’s game is a big one as the Flames visit the Wild in Minnesota.