Flames Scoring Chance Differentials – October

Calgary Flames' Curtis Glencross (20) scores on Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier during the second period of their NHL hockey game in Calgary, Alberta October 10, 2010. REUTERS/Todd Korol (CANADA - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)

This is a bit of a data dump post. Here I will present the even strength scoring chance numbers for individual Flames over their initial 11 games. There aren’t a lot of surprises for those who have been following along, although the numbers illuminate the relationship between scoring chances, possession and circumstances pretty well.

First, here’s the ES chances for and against for every skater thus far:

The columns are, in order: chances for, against, chance differential, ES ice time, chance differential per 60 minutes of ice, corsi rate/60 minutes of ice and zone start ratio (offensive-zone to defensive zone). The players are ordered from best differential/60 rate (Mark Giordano) to the worst (Nicklas Hagman).


– The Flames had an overall ES scoring chance ratio of 53% (+881, -775). That’s pretty healthy and accords with their decent overall outshooting during the month.

– By and large, the most sheltered players on the club in terms of starting position managed good differentials (Gio, Glencross, Backlund) while the guys with the toughest circumstances got eaten up (Regehr, Hagman, Bourque) with everyone else more or less falling in between.

– The Flames top line of Iginla, Tanguay and Stajan is certainly above water, which is (sort of) good news. Given the pay grade and expectations of that group, however, we’d hope they would be leading the charge since guys like Bourque and Hagman are being fed to the wolves to give them easier circumstances.

– Although he has one of the lowest scoring chance for per 60 minutes of ice rates on the team (about 16 per hour), Jokinen at least wasn’t completely destroyed over this span of games, which is actually an improvement relative to where he was last year at this time. It’s not "great", but given the circumstances, he hasn’t been a disaster. If Sutter continues to treat him like a checking pivot I would bet on things getting uglier for Jokinen going forward, but I guess we’ll see.

– It looks like Sutter has decided that Hagman and Bourque are the go-to "defensive" forwards (with Jokinen currently their center). They saw the toughest zone starts and they paid the price in terms of possession and scoring chances. Again, this is where a Daymond Langkow is valuable: when a guy can outperform his zone start ratio and post better than expected corsi and chance rates, it helps the team. 

– Some folks are probably surprised by Morrison’s completely average results on this chart. Two things: one, he has the highest on ice percentages on the team so far, meaning lady luck has smiled upon him. Second of all, this is limited to ES. A couple of Morrison’s points have come on special teams.

– The correlations at the bottom of the chart are chance differential to corsi/60 rate (0.75) and chance differential to zone start ratio (0.72). Those are surprisingly solid given the small sample size.

  • It appears that the third line has been sheltered the most, while the second has been fed to the wolves, and the first has pretty much just been middle ground. This leads me to a couple of questions – do you think that the Flames should go back to power vs. power match-up? And looking at these numbers do you think that it is reasonable to believe that the top line is due to break out?

    I wouldn’t mind the PvP matchup again, as I think the Flames strength is the depth comparative to other teams. I think our second and especially third line feast on other teams comparative lines.

    I also think that this will be possible because I think that the first line is just not scoring on its chances. I have only looked at Iginla but I know that his shot percentage is almost a third of what it normally is. The top line was facing the toughs on most nights up until only the last 3 games or so correct? I’m all for exploiting opportunities to pit the #1 line against other teams weaker lines when the opportunity presents itself, however, I like the PvP as a status quo.

    • Well, that’s the issue at the moment – I don’t know if the Flames have a “power” line as it were. I’m guessing if you moved the match-ups to the current Iginla group and started them out in the defensive zone more often, you’d just shift the scoring chances from one group to another.

      It would do wonders for this team to grab a true ES difference maker. Kesler, Hanzal, etc.

    • PrairieStew

      I am not in favour a power v Power matchup. Stajan and Tanguay are too soft to be playing against the big boys, and asking Jarome to be the defensive anchor is not a good idea.

      The only way I’d see something like that is if you decided to let Iggy play centre between Glencross and Bourque. That could be interesting. Then you could have Tanguay passing to Joker and Hagman, and Mosser with Stajan and BMo on a 3rd line.

      Wow – must be something funny in my coffee this morning.

  • Oyo

    thanks for the article kent.

    any thoughts on where kotalik is going to slot in??

    backlund back to minors once he and moss are back????

    i wouldnt mind shut down line of

    glen x moss bourque

    i think they would be fairly effective and then play

    hagman jokinen kotalik. (third line????)

  • Having done charts, I appreciate the work put in, but I’m wondering if next time you could include actual goals for/against.

    Like, I see Bourque down in the stats, but he leads the team in goals. Hagman has 4 and he is last. Small sample size, I get, but I’ll be real: I’m wary of stats that have Bourque low and Sarich high.

    Also, I’m not sure how you measure a defenceman, if you know what I mean. Maybe I am reading the stat wrong, but is it Gio generating 63 scoring chances himself, or is it him being on the ice for 63. It’s the later, right? So is he responsible for all those 63, you know what I mean?

    That’s why I’m saying you should include score card stats too, so we can see that Gio is a blueliner (obvious, I know) and that Bourque has more goals than anybody on the list other than Morrison, playing against hard competition.

    I don’t mean to go on, but I’m not too sure what to take away from it. Should I want Bourque to be getting easier matchups for more potential shots/goals? When other people (12) aren’t tearing it up against those same softer matchups, so taking them off those will hurt those players?

    • Dude, counting numbers are available at NHL.com. I can’t possibly shoehorn all manner of stats into a single chart. This is a table of scoring chances. It’s not a comprehensive compendium of all that was during the Flames first 11 games.

      Take from it what you will. We’re 11 games in and it’s more an item of interest than anything else since we’re all of 1/8th into the season.