We’re firmly nestled in the four-day mid-season break that is the All-Star Break! While that may not provide us with anything meaningful to discuss, as the All-Star Break is mostly an excuse for the NHL to hang out with sponsors and have a fun weekend in a random NHL market, it does provide us with a break from in-game action to take a deep breath and see what’s what.
So let’s discuss Calgary’s possession game.
The Calgary Flames have really improved, standings-wise, from last season. After 47 games in 2014-15, they’re 25-19-3. After the same number of games last season, they were 16-25-6. So, it’s a big turnaround. Unfortunately, a lot of it is still driven by bounces and luck.
This is the Flames Corsi percentage on a rolling five-game basis. Aside from that brief spike, the Flames haven’t been amazing. Year-long, they’re a 44.4% Corsi team, indicating that they get out-shot (and out-attempted) quite a bit. (Though you’d think that the return of Mikael “Corsi King” Backlund would’ve resulted in a pronounced Corsi recovery, so far it hasn’t – the team’s 43.9% since he’s been back. But sample size and all that…)
Weirdly, that hasn’t mattered.
Looking at Calgary’s ten best and worst games this season for overall Corsi – not just 5-on-5, but including special teams, too – you notice something peculiar.
They win a lot of games where they get out-shot.
|33.0%||Los Angeles||2-1 Win|
|37.9%||San Jose||2-0 Win|
And bizarrely, the exact opposite is almost true: the team is 3-6-1 in their 10 best Corsi games. This is how (and why) hockey is a strange, strange game. There’s a bunch of guys doing a bunch of things on the ice, and often bounces make the difference.
Here’s the Flames’ rolling five-game PDO. Guess where the wins and losses are.
We said similar things about 20-ish games ago, and shockingly, the wild PDO ride the Flames have been on has continued.
This isn’t to rain on the parade. The Flames have persevered through the peaks and valleys of their wild PDO ride to date. And, to be honest, I’m very curious if Bob Hartley utilizing Mikael Backlund and Sean Monahan more strategically down the stretch may help out in terms of the team’s possession game (and as such, their Corsi MAY go up). I mean, having your best possession player out of commission for 29 games probably doesn’t help things much.
That said, the Flames are very dependent on their goaltending. They’ve been lucky to this point that they’ve had three goalies go on really strong stretches, and their depth in this position has meant – so far – that the club hasn’t absolutely fallen into the abyss. But the team’s also been lucky that they haven’t gone from a cold goalie to another cold goalie.
After 47 games, what do the underlying numbers say about the Calgary Flames? Well, they’re not the world’s best team, but they’ve managed to hang around the playoff picture anyway. And given that the season has progressed to this point in a fairly consistent – albeit consistently uneven – manner, suggests that we’ll see more of the same over the remaining 35 regular season games.
In other words: it should be a wild ride to the season’s finish.