5 things: Getting tighter

Ryan Lambert
March 26 2015 09:49AM

1. The race

So that concern the Flames should have had about the Kings having a game in hand proved legitimate. Tuesday night Los Angeles made up that game and reveled in disemboweling a very strong Rangers team on the road. That brought the Kings into a nominal tie with Calgary for eighth in the West (the Flames hold the ROW tiebreaker, and likely will through the end of the season regardless of any reasonable combination of future results).

Obviously last night's game brought the Flames back to one extra game played and they needed two Deryk Engelland goals to even lose in a shootout; Los Angeles can make up the ground and then some tonight with a win. But the problem with relying upon the Kings to not-win remaining games is that they sure don't seem likely to make your wishes come true.

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5 things: What's ahead?

Ryan Lambert
March 19 2015 09:00AM

1. First the good news

As I write this the Flames are currently outside a playoff spot, having been demolished on Tuesday night by the St. Louis Blues — who to be fair demolish a lot of teams these days — while the Winnipeg Jets lit up San Jose 5-2.

That pushed the Flames a point out of the playoffs in the West as far as the wild card is concerned, and into the bad side of a nominal tie with Los Angeles at 81 points. The Kings had, at that point, played one game fewer. (They're up to 82 after an overtime loss to Anaheim last night.) Now, one or even zero points over 12 games isn't a lot of ground to make up in general, and even if you're playing badly like the Flames are, you can fluke your way to a pretty easy situation down the stretch.

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5 things: Quantifying hard work

Ryan Lambert
March 12 2015 09:01AM

1. What are we talking about?

People do not like when I refer to the Flames as a "bad team." They tell me to look at the standings, because in sports, all people really care about is results. If a team could get away with being outshot every single night all season long — and by a margin that, say, as wide as what the Flames face on any given night — and still win all 82, then that would have been a good team. The process of how those wins are arrived-at matters not.

We know that this isn't how things work, of course, and we know that outshooting your opponent more often than not is a pretty good way of likewise ensuring that you win more often than not. The numbers back all of this up, and even those who for some unfathomable reason remain skeptical of the efficacy of evaluating hockey teams using things as simple as their corsi percentage over the course of 20, 40, 60, even 82 games would have to agree that the best teams have the puck more than the worst ones. It's a sliding scale, sure, and things don't always match up 1-for-1, but it's obvious that a good corsi share is key to a good record in far more cases than those for which the bad leads to a good record. We can all agree on this.

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5 things: A bad week

Ryan Lambert
March 05 2015 09:00AM

1. The worst thing possible

So Mark Giordano's done for the year, and that's a real shame for him because he was having the season of his life for the second year in a row.

Last season he played 64 games and dominated the toughest competition in the league. He played more than 25 minutes a night, racked up 47 points, and scored 14 times. The Flames were bad around him but it didn't matter; when he was on the ice, they played like the Chicago Blackhawks.

This season he played 61 games and dominated the toughest competition in the league. He played more than 25 minutes a night, racked up 48 points, and scored 11 times. The Flames were bad around him but it didn't matter; when he was on the ice, they played like the Chicago Blackhawks.

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Five things: The next five days

Ryan Lambert
February 26 2015 09:00AM

1. We begin with a loss

That game against the Rangers was, I think, a nice encapsulation of what Flames fans should expect for most of the remainder of the season. There are more than 20 games left, but this was a contest in which the Flames tried very hard for a while and at least held serve for a lot of the early goings of the game, but once they conceded it quickly became apparent that this was not a game in which the Flames were going to score. Even a one-goal lead at that point felt insurmountable based on how things looked on the ice.

You really do have to wonder when this team's shooting luck runs out. So many guys shot 10-plus percent for so many games that it necessarily has to come back to bite you, and we're getting to the point at which regression tends to hit teams: about 60-70 games in, things start going the way they "should" when teams PDO their way to early success.

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