It’s well-established that the Calgary Flames are not a great 5-on-5 team. They have just 82 goals at even strength, 28th in the NHL (ahead of Montreal and Buffalo), and they’ve allowed more goals at 5-on-5 than anybody but Nashville, the Islanders and Edmonton.
The reason why other teams are able to overcome their dreadful even-strength totals is their power-play. Calgary’s power-play is converting about 14.8% of chances, which places them at 25th in the NHL. For reference, the teams that are worse are Buffalo, Carolina, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Florida, and every team is significantly worse than Calgary. (Spoiler: being bad at even-strength and the PP is why Buffalo is 30th.)
Here’s a quick look at just how the Flames PP is doing.
WHEN DO THEY SCORE?
The Flames power-play has scored 25 times this season, putting up goals in 19 games. Calgary has a 10-4-5 record when they score once on the power-play and a perfect 4-0-0 record when they score more than once. When they don’t score, they’re 9-23-2.
In terms of when on the actual power-play they score, it varies.
- First 30 seconds: 5 goals
- Second 30 seconds: 5 goals
- Third 30 seconds: 8 goals
- Fourth 30 seconds: 6 goals
Three times they scored in the first five seconds of a power-play. Once they scored in the last five seconds.
WHAT ABOUT BY PERIOD?
Here’s where a weird pattern emerges.
First, Calgary draws a lot more penalties in the second period than in the first or the third. Power-play opportunities go like this: 42 in the first, 73 in the second and 52 in the third. Why do the Flames draw more calls in the second? Probably a combination of conditioning, the flow of the game and the referees putting the whistles away in the third. When you factor in all the close games, these all probably weigh into it.
But the Flames are also much more productive in the second. Power-play conversions break down like this: 9.5% in the first, 17.8% in the second and 15.4% in the third. After 50+ games, that’s a pretty large gap between the first period and the other two. When I asked about it, coach Hartley didn’t have an explanation, theorizing that perhaps the team’s conditioning helped them be more effective as the game wore on.
WHO’S ON FOR THE MOST GOALS?
Jiri Hudler has been on the ice for 19 power-play goals, leading the team. Others near the top are the usual suspects: Mark Giordano (16), Lee Stempniak (12), Dennis Wideman (11), Mikael Backlund (11) and Kris Russell (10).
When you break it down by how many minutes of power-play time these guys get, things are a bit different. Prior to the Chicago game, Lance Bouma (5 minutes per goal) and Sven Baertschi (7.25 minutes per goal) were the most productive, although heavily aided by small sample size. Among the regulars, the leaders are Mikael Backlund (7.57 minutes per), Mark Giordano (7.93 minutes per) and Lee Stempniak (8.13 minutes per). The least productive among the regulars are Mike Cammalleri (13.9 minutes per), T.J. Brodie (12.3 minutes per) and Kris Russell (12.25 minutes per). Cammalleri’s inclusion here may be a product of Calgary’s “get it to Cammy for a one-timer” default strategy on the PP.
And an odd pattern emerges amongst the goalies. Karri Ramo’s played in about three more games than Reto Berra, yet the Flames have scored twice as many power-play goals with Ramo in net than with Berra. I can’t find a breakdown of the power-play time they were both in net for, but that’s just wacky.
SUM IT UP
The Flames aren’t great at even-strength. If they want to entertain thoughts of moving up the standings in the short-term, they need to get better on their power-play opportunities.