Post-Game: Here's Johnny

Ryan Pike
January 27 2015 09:59PM

Tonight's Calgary Flames game was a bit sloppy and the team looked decent in fits and starts, but hardly a world-beater. They exchanged power-play goals in the first with the Buffalo Sabres. Neither team looked amazing.

Then the third period came and the Flames realized it was a tie game against the worst team in the league. Three goals later, the Flames skated away with a 4-1 victory and a much-needed two points in the standings.

Here's how it broke down.

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FGD #48: Buffalo Visits the 'Dome (7pm MT, SN West)

Ryan Pike
January 27 2015 11:38AM

After five days without meaningful hockey, the Calgary Flames are back in action tonight as they begin their pursuit of their five playoff berth since 2009.

The back-half of their schedule begins with the Flames (25-19-3; 53 points) hosting the NHL's worst team, the Buffalo Sabres (14-30-3; 31 points) at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The Flames are rested and coming off a very successful road trip that saw them win four of five, all against divisional opponents. They cannot afford to take the Sabres lightly, nor can they afford to let any points slip away against an opponent they should be able to beat.

Long story short: the Flames better win this one, because after a short stretch of "easier" games (including visits from Minnesota and Edmonton later this week), the competition amps back up. If they can bank some points in the front end of this homestand, then they can give themselves a bit of breathing room in the Western Conference playoff race.

The puck drops tonight at 7pm MT and you can catch the action on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

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How're Those Flames Doin' Anyway?

January 27 2015 09:00AM

Previously I had updated my estimates for the Flames season originally posted back when the season began. Feel free to look back and compare, the original is broken into forwards, defense, goaltending and rookies and the first update here, but I will be including the previous estimates in the Big Wall of Numbers below.

To begin the year I had guessed the Flames would finish somewhere between 25th and 21st overall in the standings, that the team would score approximately 206 goals for, would have strong underlying possession numbers relative to their underwhelming roster, and with solid goaltending from Hiller would probably win a few more of the one-goal games they had lost the previous season.

The first update, posted one-third of the way into the 2014-2015 season, showed that those estimates were conservative in some areas (scoring) and incorrect in others (possession strength).The Flames have been the beneficiaries of some extraordinary luck so far this season and I honestly believe that Bob Hartley's aggressive system, simple to execute and suited to a team with speed, has found fertile ground with the Flames' roster. All that aside, the Flames are an outlier on the scale right now. They may carry this through to the post-season, they may not. We aren't talking Black Swan stuff here. Hartley and the Flames haven't disproved the entire body of hockey analytics, but neither has their extraordinary season regressed on the timetable that some had believed. Sustainable? No. Due to crash like a Eurozone debt default? No again.

Analytics is best used as a diagnostic tool. Let's let this season close and we'll look back to discuss then. In the meantime, man enjoy the ride!

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Report: Flames Kicked Tires On Mike Richards

Ryan Pike
January 26 2015 03:15PM

The biggest news of the day throughout the hockey world was the Los Angeles Kings placing forward Mike Richards (and his $5.75 million cap hit) on waivers, presumably for the purpose of ridding themselves of his contract or burying it in the minors.

TSN's Bob McKenzie had an interesting bit of background on the Kings' move:

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Let's Talk About Centers

Ryan Pike
January 26 2015 01:30PM

After 47 games, the Calgary Flames are in both an unfamiliar spot and a familiar one. They reached the All-Star Break in a playoff spot, somewhere they haven't ended a season in the last five years.

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 10.35.49 PM

The other place they're in is near the bottom of the NHL's face-off rankings, where they've been for the last few seasons. And given the importance of winning key draws plays in winning key games - and making the playoffs - let's have a chat about face-offs. While the Flames aren't all that good, I think it's one area where coaching has actually done the most with what they've been given.

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