Comparing The West: Calgary and The Other Playoff Contenders

The Western Conference has 14 teams that want to be in the playoffs. At this juncture, only 10 have legitimate hopes of actually playing when the post-season begins in mid-April (with apologies to Edmonton, Arizona, Dallas and Colorado).

In the interest of my own curiosity, here is a brief statistical comparison of the 10 teams currently battling for the post-season.

Wins 42 41 40 39 32 36 36 31 36 32
Play (%)
17.0 16.7 22.7 17.9 18.1 17.8 14.8 18.2 18.1 21.5
Kill (%)
81.8 81.5 81.2 85.9 80.8 85.9 86.6 80.6 80.7 79.5
For (%)
50.6 52.7 51.4 53.8 52.8 49.8 51.9 54.8 44.5 50.8
Close (%)
50.0 51.3 51.1 53.0 52.9 50.8 52.5 54.2 45.4 50.9
Faceoffs 51.4 48.6 53.4 51.8 48.7 47.8 49.7 51.5 47.7 51.6
8.5 8.4 8.5 7.2 7.6 7.9 8.4 7.7 8.6 7.5
Save (%) 92.3 93.4 92.4 92.8 92.5 91.5 91.0 92.3 92.2 91.9

Special Teams:

  • In terms of power-plays, Minnesota is easily the worst while St. Louis and San Jose are positive outliers. Beyond those exceptions, all the other teams are in the same basic range. Calgary’s power-play is fairly typical, productivity-wise, of the teams contending for playoff spots
  • In terms of the penalty kill, Calgary’s on the lower-end of the spectrum. San Jose’s is the worst, while Chicago, Vancouver and Minnesota are in the mix for the best. Beyond that, everyone is in the same general clump.

Puck Possession:

  • This won’t be shocking, but to those of you just joining us, Calgary is not a strong even-strength puck possession team. They’re easily the worst in both Corsi and Corsi Close of all the teams in the playoff mix. They’re, like, five full percentage points behind every other team in that group.
  • On the other hand, Chicago, Winnipeg, Los Angeles and Nashville are the best possession teams. Calgary would be wise to not play against them.

The Percentages:

  • Faceoffs: St. Louis’ group of centers are the group’s best, while Calgary and Vancouver are the worst of the playoff bunch. Everyone else is clumped towards the middle to top-half of the league.
  • Shooting: Why is Calgary in the playoff mix? Their contender-group-best shooting percentage. Also near the top are Anaheim, St. Louis and Nashville, the conference’s three elite clubs. Meanwhile, Chicago’s dip towards the mushy middle of the wild-card teams? Fueled by their low shooting percentage.
  • Saves: Even with their insane Devan Dubnyk-fueled push back into relevance, the Wild have the group’s worst save percentage – and consider this: it used to be worse than this. Nashville’s tops in this category, backed by Pekka Rinne, while Calgary is more or less typical of this group statistically in terms of their goaltending.
  • jandrewyang

    “Why is Calgary in the playoff mix? Their contender-group-best shooting percentage. Also near the top are Anaheim, St. Louis and Nashville, the conference’s three elite clubs.”

    Don’t forget elite Minnesota?

  • jandrewyang

    Good compilation and about what can be expected from you FN writers. Guess we know what these stats say and likely what can be expected, stats-wise going forward.

    It would have been nice to see some others, like shot blocks, Fenwick, goals scored, goals/Corsi against, goals/Corsi for, rolling average PP & PK…. You know, other stats that would further help get an idea of the teams instead of the same old, same old.

    Anyways, nice to see you include the Flames in your grouping rather than just assume they’re a terrible team and are going to regress off a cliff any instant. That’s progress, I guess.

  • Rockmorton65

    I think best case scenario is for the Flames to squeak into the playoffs, lose an extremely close, hard fought seven game series games the Ducks and then still draft 15th in June.

    Exciting, playoff hockey for the fans & owners

    Experience for the kids

    Decent draft position in a deep draft

    • Avalain

      Well, I’d say the best case scenario is that these guys defy all odds and win the cup this year. The next best is that we just miss the playoffs and win the lottery. So I’d say yours is the 3rd best case.

      • Rockmorton65

        Winning the lottery could be better than my scenario, but I think it would almost be detrimental to this team to go on a “lightning in a bottle” cup run. Look at what happened to Edmonton and Carolina after their cinderella runs. I like the idea of the playoffs this year, but just a taste. Make em that much hungrier next year. And a first round exit would give us the highest draft pick of all the playoff teams.

  • Robear

    I was just thinking about something similar to this….comparing the Flames to Montreal (’14-’15), Colorado (’13-’14), and Toronto (’12-’13) since those are all pointed to as similar situations as the Flames are in right now. Over achieving and destined for failure if certain things don’t change.

    I made a spreadsheet comparing a bunch of the stats normally referenced like Corsi and PDO and other things like PP%, FO% and more.

    In general, anyone comparing the Flames to the Leafs from 2 seasons ago need to be slapped. If anything is an example of a team fluking through a season, the Maple Leafs are that, and the Flames are way better than them in pretty much every way. The Flames are also better than the Avalanche team of last season, although not so extremely. And lastly, Montreal is still better than the Flames generally.

    A couple things I found

    -crediting the Flames success to luck is foolishness. Their 5v5 PDO is 100.9, the least out of these three teams and fairly average.

    -as far as Corsi goes, the Flames Corsi is dragged down by a pretty bad 5v5 Corsi. But the Flames are on the PP so much that their overall Corsi is increased by 2.7% (44.3 to 47) over their 5v5. The other three team’s Corsi was not affected much by their special teams.

    -a common theme between these “overachieving” teams was shot blocking (17-18/game), except Colorado last year (14.6/game)

    Overall it seems like the Flames are doing better than they “should” but not nearly to the extent that people infer when comparing to the Colorado’s and Toronto’s of previous years. There really is not much regression possible when considering the barely above average PDO but if they continue the awesome % of time they’re on the PP compared to the PK, they have a good chance to continue their success. Whether they make the playoffs or not, this team is not as bad as people make them out to be sometimes and it’s great for the young players to be able to experience this time of year and meaningful games rather than wallow in the depths of the western conference hoping for a good draft pick.

    PS I didn’t have much time to look and think over what I just said so if some of it isn’t quite accurate I apologize, but I thought I’d share what I found after spending a couple hours looking at this stuff.

    • Rockmorton65

      Penalty kill percentages and penalty kill percentages really don’t mean much. You could live with lower percentages with either if the number of powerplay chances is high and the number of penalties is low; which is the case of the Flames.

      • Robear

        So are you suggesting that the focus be more on a GA and GF per 60 for the PP and PK, rather than only percentages?

        That should weight the success of the percentage stat with the number of total events, if I recall my basic stats.

  • Rockmorton65

    How about a basic stat after Wins and that is Goal Differential:

    Anaheim +14, Nashville +32 St Louis +41 Chicago +37 Winnipeg +7 Vancouver +9 Minnesota +19 Los Angeles +7 Calgary +20
    San Jose +1

    As you can see only 3 top teams are better than the Flames…but they are at least on par with Anaheim, Minney (who I may concede a wild card spot)…but Flames are better than the other 4 teams!

    So, in terms of the teams they need to beat to make the playoffs, they are at least as good or better in scoring more than their opponents.

  • Section205

    Why are so many writers so sloppy with their analysis?

    Why sum up special teams by looking at their percentages?!?

    For the 1000th time, look at how many (and how few) powerplays taken and given. The Flames are doing plenty of things right 5 on 5, because they are rarely shorthanded and frequently gain extra powerplays, almost every game.

    Likewise, shouldn’t it also be obvious to any Flamesnation writer/reader by now that this team’s m.o. is to block shots? So Corsi is totally irrelevant when 40% of shot attempts are getting blocked lately. And you can bet that missed shots are way above average when you have to shoot around the blocks.

    Look at shots on goal for/against. Supposedly, possession is lopsided, but yet the opponents avg only 28 shots per game?!? Sure, we don’t TAKE as many shots 5 on 5, but we have a massive shot advantage on special teams, when shooting percentage is expected to be double compared to 5 0n 5.

    We limit the opponent to very few shots on goal… consistently. We give very few powerplays (and thus fewer pp shots against)… consistently.

    I hate when people say “you probably don’t even watch the games” but articles like this over and over make me wonder what people are watching when the game is on.

    • Section205

      Compared to the 4 teams that Calgary is compared to that I mentioned above (Montreal, Colorado & Toronto), Calgary has the best Shots For %. Marginally better than Montreal this season. Sure they get out-Corsi-ed, but they narrowly get out shot. I think shots are generally more important than Corsi, and seems like the Flames agree.

    • Section205

      Absolutely correct! It seems that Corsi is the darling of the stats hounds probably because it is easy to use and they believe it tells a consistent story (which it doesn’t) based on years of data. If there are anomalies they can easily dismiss them as insufficient sample size (again, sufficient is whatever is needed to prove their point) or “luck”. Its so convenient to be able to close one’s eyes and turn off any real questions or objections, happy in the knowledge that they are right, no matter what.

      Thank you for your bit of insight, the points are so true. It is my hope that with better data hopefully now being collected, and a quantum leap in data collection at the doorstep, we’ll be getting the data needed to actually delve into teams play and success much more accurately. Over time whatever is developed will only get better.

      Keep asking the questions, keep raising the objections. I believe some think the war over stats is over, wherein truly, it has hardly even begun…