The Calgary Flames, at least in theory, should have among the easiest paths to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
That is, by way of what they’ll face through the remaining 36 skates on the schedule.
Because the Flames have the third-softest slate through the rest of the season, according to Tankathon.
Tankathon’s remaining strength of schedule “looks at a team’s remaining games and calculates the combined points per game for all those opponents,” according to its website.
The Flames will play the Columbus Blue Jackets once more — Johnny Gaudreau’s return to the Saddledome — and the Anaheim Ducks three more times. They’ll face the Chicago Blackhawks, Arizona Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, and Vancouver Canucks for a pair of contests before the season is out, too.
Each ranks 27th or worse in the NHL standings as of January 19, making 12 of 36 games coming against teams in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes.
Only the Anaheim Ducks and Seattle Kraken have it easier, according to the calculation.
They might need every advantage they can get.
Calgary, who topped the Pacific Division last season and advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs before eventually bowing out to the Edmonton Oilers, awoke Thursday to find themselves clinging to the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference.
The Colorado Avalanche, who bested the Flames 3-1 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday night, technically hold rights to the spot with a superior winning percentage. Colorado has a .570 winning percentage by way of a 23-17-3 record in 43 games; Calgary is 21-16-9 for 51 points and a .554 winning percentage.
In terms of Pacific Division pondering, the Flames sit fifth — two back of the provincial rival Edmonton Oilers for fourth. The Oilers, who hold the first wild card spot, have also played 46 games.
Calgary trails the Los Angeles Kings by five points for third with an even amount of games played and is also five back of the second-place Kraken, though the latter have played two fewer games. The Vegas Golden Knights top the division and have a seven-point edge on the Flames with one game at hand.
There are also 13 games remaining between Calgary and divisional opponents, giving the Flames plenty of runway to dictate their own fate.
It’ll be that combination, along with a soft strength of schedule, that a “concerning” Calgary group will need to capitalize on to qualify for postseason play for a second consecutive season.