Seven Game Segments At A Glance

Last season, Bob Hartley won the Jack Adams Award, as voted by the NHL Broadcasters Association. One of the main things that Hartley proponents pointed to as effective in driving the Calgary Flames’ 20-point turnaround were his use of seven-game segments to keep the team focused on short-term goals.

Winning the bulk of the seven-game series over the course of a season would equate with a playoff berth. The Flames ended up winning the majority of them last season and ended up going to the post-season. Seven-game segments are back this season.

Here’s a brief look at how they’re doing thus far.

Let’s start off with a table for an at-a-glance gander:

1-7 8-14 15-21 22-28 29-35 36-42
Record 2-5-0 2-4-1 4-3-0 4-2-1 5-2-0 3-4-0
Power Play 15.8% 10.5% 16.7% 7.4% 16.0% 20.8%
Penalty Kill 78.3% 76.2% 66.7% 53.3% 93.3% 72.7%
PDO 94.1 95.1 100.0 102.3 101.4 102.8
Score-Adjusted
Corsi
43.1% 50.5% 47.4% 48.4% 45.1% 48.4%
Johnny
Gaudreau
1g, 8a
47.2%
1g, 4a
52.7%
3g, 3a
46.2%
5g, 3a
47.6%
7g, 4a
50.7%
2g, 2a
55.3%
Sean
Monahan
2g, 2a
44.6%
0g, 4a
46.3%
5g, 2a
44.8%
3g, 4a
47.9%
2g, 2a
46.1%
1g, 1a
57.3%
Sam
Bennett
0g, 1a
48.9%
2g, 4a
51.8%
2g, 2a
50.6%
1g, 1a
51.6%
0g, 1a
35.4%
5g, 0a
51.3%
Mark
Giordano
1g, 3a
48.7%
1g, 1a
50.8%
0g, 0a
49.8%
2g, 4a
50.4%
3g, 4a
48.5%
1g, 6a
57.9%
T.J.
Brodie
Injured 1g, 2a
56.7%
1g, 2a
48.2%
0g, 6a
47.5%
2g, 5a
47.6%
0g, 3a
53.6%
Dougie
Hamilton
1g, 0a
42.9%
1g, 1a
58.7%
0g, 0a
47.0%
1g, 3a
51.4%
2g, 2a
48.1%
1g, 3a
43.8%

The opening segment saw the Flames (a) have bad puck luck (expressed via PDO) AND (b) play their worst possession hockey of the season. Their special teams game was okay, but their 5-on-5 play was horrid – perhaps because T.J. Brodie was absent. Either way, they sucked. Johnny Gaudreau had nine points, but he was surrounded by a bunch of confused players.

The Flames started to get their legs under them a bit in the second segment, actually playing some damn good possession hockey but being mired by everybody staying cold (except for Sam Bennett), the power-play slowing down and the team maintaining some awful puck luck in that span.

Gaudreau and Sean Monahan warmed up a bit in the third segment, while the team as a whole got a bit better. The bottom started to fall out of their penalty kill, but their 5-on-5 play was adequate and their puck luck was improved.

The bottom fell out of their special teams play in the fourth segment, with an abysmal power-play and an abysmal penalty kill. However, the team’s possession game stayed decent and they got improved puck luck and managed to ride their 5-on-5 play to some wins. Gaudreau, Monahan, Brodie and Giordano all put up good numbers in this segment.

The Flames were white-hot in the fifth segment, winning five games. The penalty kill was uncharacteristically excellent – to degrees we haven’t seen before or since – and the team had decent puck luck that compensated for a lagging possession game. It also helps that basically everybody but Bennett put up solid points, including Gaudreau, Giordano, Brodie and Hamilton having their best segments of the season.

The sixth segment, the latest complete segment this season, was a mixed bag. The power-play was excellent. They had pretty good puck luck. Their possession game was slightly improved from the previous segment. But aside from good production from Bennett, Giordano and Hamilton the rest of the big guns didn’t produce massively, and the penalty kill crashed back to mediocrity – which likely cost them in tight games.

LAST SEASON

  • Segment 1 (1-7): 4-3-0
  • Segment 2 (8-14): 4-1-2
  • Segment 3 (15-21): 4-3-0
  • Segment 4 (22-28): 5-2-0
  • Segment 5 (29-35): 0-6-1
  • Segment 6 (36-42): 4-3-0
  • Segment 7 (43-49): 5-2-0
  • Segment 8 (50-56): 5-2-0
  • Segment 9 (57-63): 3-3-1
  • Segment 10 (64-70): 4-2-1
  • Segment 11 (71-77): 4-1-2
  • Segment 12 (78-82): 3-2-0 [5 games]

The Flames won or broke even on every segment of the season except with the one containing the PDO-driven losing skid in December. But almost like clockwork, they racked up between seven and 10 points in every segment. And when you look at their underlyings, man, they never really fell off a cliff.

Here’s a rolling five-game look at their Score-Adjusted Corsi last season.

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 8.36.10 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 8.43.50 PM

SO WHAT?

One thing that’s made evident when splitting the season into segments: these guys are really inconsistent, but a good deal of that can be blamed on their horrendous special teams (especially in the context of how their possession and PDO numbers). Here’s the same rolling five-game look at Score-Adjusted Corsi and PDO, but for this season instead.

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 8.36.45 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 8.39.01 PM

As we’ve noted before this season, the Flames are fundamentally a better hockey club than they were last season – if you laid this year’s moving average over last season’s, this year’s is generally a slight bit higher. That said, their PDO just isn’t quite what it was last year – when it was unsustainably high – and they can’t survive the wild swings in their special teams (and their best players going hot and cold almost at random).

Does this mean that Hartley’s “short-term focus exercise” of the seven-game segments was smoke and mirrors? Not entirely, but a great deal of the team’s success last season – both split up into seven-game chunks or as an 82-game mass – was due to sky-high PDO allowing the Flames to overcome some shaky possession hockey. That PDO has evaporated this year, particularly early in the season, and to a degree so did their success.

  • DestroDertell

    What this really shows is how shockingly inconsistent the team is in places it should be somewhat able to control, i.e., special teams. For me, that is the real problem.

    Calgary draws a reasonable number of penalties because of speed. But teams know there is a much worse chance than average there will be a consequence in the form of a goal by doing so. If the power play is lethal, other teams have to play slightly differently or pay the price. Some players can’t pay differently and therefore draw the penalty. Similarly, Calgary could play more robustly, if necessary, if the PK is better.

    It’s an old story, but special teams have to be better for this team to get to the next level, regardless of talent/size improvements through out the lineup.

    • piscera.infada

      Inconsistency is always the mark of a very young, still developing team.

      Look at their special teams, especially the powerplay. The forwards on the first PP unit have an average age of 24.3 years old (averaging the six most used forwards on the first unit). Couple that with ‘wither Dennis Wideman’, and the coach’s apparent blood-lust to get him going at all costs, and you have a pretty good recipe for powerplay inconsistency–it’s not just anecdotal to me that the powerplay seems to have massively turned a corner with Dougie and Brodie getting a bump in PP time.

      I’ll agree on the penalty kill, although even that is marginally trending in the right direction now. I would imagine the goaltending issues played as much a part in that as anything.

      • FeyWest

        Yes. The PP should be better (and has been lately).

        If your goaltending is only average, your PK is unlikely to excel. I think the loss of Bouma has hurt the PK too.

        • piscera.infada

          If your goaltending is only average, your PK is unlikely to excel. I think the loss of Bouma has hurt the PK too.

          I’ll put it this way. Earlier in the season (when the goalies couldn’t stop a beach ball), the Flames even-strength save-percentage would have been about middle of the pack in terms of penalty-kill save-percentage. That’s horrible. There’s no doubt in my mind that their penalty-kill save-percentage was the lowest in the league by far. If your goalie can’t make a save, your penalty kill is going to suffer. Now, that’s not to say the penalty kill is good, but goaltending definitely made it look much worse than it was.

          • FeyWest

            Recently we only seem to get burned by extremely good PP teams, other than those teams we’ve play really well. I would agree that every stat is going to kind of look a lot worse than it is due to the very poor start.

  • FeyWest

    I think once Wideman’s contract expires is the mark where we see a major step to consistent competing. I don’t think this necessarily because of his poor play more so that I think that is basically the last of the immovable contracts and we see major turnaround for our team. Kylington, Andersson, and Hickey on the backend, potentially Kulak or Culkin. Poirier, Djanko, Arnold, and potentially Klimmer and Mangiapane. Finally Gillies & Ortio with MacDonald developing right behind. This is not including our potential for this and next years drafts.

    At that point our Veteran’s (25+) will be Gio, Brodie, Frolik & Stajan maybe Backlund too but I think he’s going to be traded, if not he will be Stajan’s replacement for veteran presence. I think 1/3 is a good ratio for Veterans, 1/3 of Up and coming Veteran’s(22-25), and 1/3 of rookies (18-22). Thoughts?