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Handicapping Avs, Flames race for 8th place

Kyle Cumiskey, David Moss

Calgary Flames right winger David Moss, left, slows down Colorado Avalanche defenseman Kyle Cumiskey as he picks up a loose puck in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Denver on Friday, April 2, 2010. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


It’s pretty obvious that barring another crazy occurrence, the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche are in a two-horse race for the Western Conference’s eighth seed. The two teams are going in completely different directions right now, with the Flames on a three game winning streak while the Avs are on a four game skid. On the bright side for Avs fans, the team has a game in hand and more wins (the first tiebreaker). So which club holds the advantage? I think the best way to guess is to compare the two team’s remaining schedules.

Colorado’s last few games: home against San Jose, on the road against Vancouver and Edmonton, then two games at home against Chicago and Los Angeles.

Calgary’s last few games: on the road against Chicago, at home against San Jose and Minnesota, then a game on the road against Vancouver.

The two team’s schedules are remarkably similar. Both play against the three Western Conference division winners in San Jose, Chicago and Vancouver. Each team has one cream puff matchup (Edmonton for Colorado, Minnesota for Calgary). If things go beyond the simple wins tiebreaker, the Avs also hold the head-to-head series tiebreaker with a 3-2-1 record against Calgary. So, basically, the Flames need to finish the year with at least one more point than the Avs if they want to make the playoffs.

So, ultimately, the question is: will the Avs get it together or will the red-hot Flames take advantage of Colorado’s struggles?