Much Ado About the Power-Play


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

      • mk

        That’s just BS – Faragher shouldn’t even be the conversation as top goalie in the system, nevermind Hobey Baker. Democracy fail.

        I’m sure the later rounds of voting (more restrictive than anyone who can access a computer) will chop him down.

        Go Gaudreau!

    • McRib

      Considering that past Hobey Baker winners are almost all NHL busts (only two NHL stars Miller, Kariya) if history tells us anything it is that we don’t want Johnny Gaudreau to win the Hobey. Hahaha. (Just Kidding or am I….)

      For every 3 NHLers (Matt Carle, Ryan Miller & Jordan Leopold) there are 11+ busts (Mike Mottau, Jason Krog, Peter Sejna, Junior Lessard, Marty Sertich, Ryan Duncan, Kevin Porter, Matt Gilroy, Andy Miele, Jack Connolly, etc).

      It’s bazaar how the Hobey Baker Comittee elects the winner they choose the breakout player/story rather than the most impactful, often an undrafted Sr. I wouldn’t be suprised if Johnny doesn’t win (should have won last year) they like a story. Recent runner-ups include Cam Atkinson, Matt Frattin, Torey Krug, Gustav Nyquist, Colin Wilson, Nathan Gerbe, Ryan Jones, Justin Schultz, Reilly Smith, T. J. Oshie.

  • prendrefeu

    Somehow I see Poirier doing the opposite: getting many short handed goals while thrown into a PK line.

    Speaking of which, as rare as those are, what are the stats for penalty kills and short handed goals?

  • seve927

    How is it possible over halfway through a season, that Reto doesn’t have a regulation win yet? Is it because he lets goals in purposely so he can win in overtime? More likely he doesn’t focus for a full 60 minutes cause even Ramo has a shutout this year.

    • The Real Slim Brodie

      It’s because he is simply not good enough to be an NHL’er. You can argue that he needs to adjust but at 26 soon to be 27 years old I don’t like his chances. As much as Ramo is a better goalie than Reto I also believe he is not an NHL’er.

      On top of Burke’s priority list will be a top end goalie to ensure the rebuild progresses.

  • Byron Bader

    Great breakdown, Pike! Really interesting stuff.

    Seems like the Flames need a minute or so to settle things down on the advantage before they start creating good opportunities. On a related note, if some fans (not you guys) could stop yelling at teams to shoot the puck if they haven’t shot within a 10 second window on the PP that would be great. Just let em work!

    On another somewhat related note, powerplay chances league wide are down since before the 2005 lockout. The days when you could water ski behind a guy without any problem had more penalty calls than today. That’s just strange.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    Im really liking lance bouma, he is playing with confidence and can actually stick handle with skill…..good moves…. just one of many surprises this year. just watching players from our own system drated by us step up and produce makes me confident this rebuild will be alot shorter than we may think..go flames go

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    well Reto has time, he only has smaller issues to his game that cause big problems. he chases the puck too much and a few other issues but he has the tools.

    How old was crazy town Tim Thomas when he suddenly figured out how to play?

    Not saying it’s up to us to turn Reto into Tim Thomas though

  • Lordmork

    This is a bit off topic, but I was reading this article about Gaudreau’s line on the Eagles. It seems to me like there might be something to the suggestion to see if the Flames can pry Kevin Hayes out of Chicago. Although he’s apparently more of a finesse player, he’s 6’2, and plays RW. I don’t hold the illusion that Hayes could be had cheap, but the Flames look to be in desperate need of RW prospects.


  • cgyokgn

    Blair Jones is very unlucky. He was playing well before he got injured and hasn’t been given much time since coming off of IR. Too bad. I guess it’s probably back to Abby.

  • cgyokgn

    Regarding the topic at hand, having Russell and Gio in the line-up helps our PP. Wideman is supposed to be a PP specialist but since coming back from injury has been very mediocre. I’m concerned about the number of SHG given up: 6 now, although it seems like there are quite a few SHG being scored throughout the league. I suppose it’s balanced by the number of SHG we’ve been able to score (7) but it means that our PP needs to be better – maybe more structured.

  • cgyokgn

    Lots of things to discuss on today’s site.

    Saw Bouma on the powerplay last night something I suggested awhile back and got trashed for. Has Bouma now surpassed Colborne in value on the team?

    Cammy is back and BJones sent down.I actually feel bad for Jones as I think he deserves to play ahead of either Westgarth or McG. Will this now force Hartley to breakup the McGrattan Westgarth partnership? One could only hope.

    Talking of Johnny G and listening to the Fan and the Big Show and how they think he will play for the this season. Personally I doubt it because if you look at the NCAA schedule the Frozen 4 takes place April 12-14 and BC has a very good chance of being there.Flames season ends that weekend. Also BC plays Providence on Friday Night if anyone is interested.

  • cgyokgn

    Blair Jones has played his last game as a Flame. Burke has evaluated all of the UFA’s and RFA’s this year and will make it known by who he offers deals to. I still sense Burke plans to move either Westgarth or McGratten as I can’t see the sense in keeping both. With all of the young guys coming in and teams taking liberties, my pick would be to keep McGratten who would take care of the young boys and ensure that liberties are never taken.

    • cgyokgn

      I won’t argue with the idea that BJones might be done as Flame as you may be right.

      In the games I have watched I have not seen many examples of teams taking liberties with the current crop and I have not seen either McG or Westgarth really act as deterrents when any stuff has happened. Mcg only goes after the others team tough guys and I don’t see that as a real deterrent.

      • cgyokgn

        That’s the beauty of a guy like McGratten. He’s a deterrent so team’s won’t take liberties or they’ll feel his wrath. Liberties aren’t good solid body checks – it’s guys running your young players without fear. Big Ern on the bench is sometimes all you need. Trade him and you’ll see the result. The value of a deterrent is never known until it’s no longer there…..

  • febreze

    If Johnny G wins the Hobey Baker we will actually have to pay him more. I don’t know how much more but I’m hoping we’re in a situation in the future where we’re trying to squeeze talent in cap-wise and getting top dollar on his Entry Level deal actually matters.