It’s been 10 games since the Calgary Flames waved the proverbial white flag at the National Hockey League’s trade deadline, trading Kris Russell and David Jones (and prior to that Markus Granlund and Jiri Hudler) and loading up on picks and prospects.
Oddly enough, the Flames seem – to the naked eye and in the standings – to be playing better now that the smoke has cleared and the deadline chaos has subsided.
What do the numbers say?
THE HIGH-LEVEL NUMBERS
Standings-wise, the Flames are 4-4-2 – exactly .500 – through the 10 games. Their power-play has scored on 14.3% of their chances – 24th in the NHL – and their penalty kill has stopped 81.8% of opposition advantages – 19th in the NHL.
In terms of points, Mark Giordano leads the way with 11 points, followed by Michael Frolik (9 points), Sean Monahan (9 points), Mikael Backlund (8 points) and Johnny Gaudreau (8 points). Eighteen of the 22 players that have dressed for the team have at least a point – no points for Brandon Bollig, Tyler Wotherspoon, Dennis Wideman or Kenny Agostino – and 12 different players have scored goals. The team’s offense is doing reasonably well with 30 goals over 10 games – without being overly-reliant on Gaudreau – but their defense still needs a bit of work, as they’ve given up 31 goals in the same span.
For the curious? Since the trade deadline Joni Ortio is 4-2-2 with a 2.36 goals against average and .920 even-strength save percentage. Jonas Hiller is 0-2-0 with a 4.55 goals against average and .886 even-strength save percentage. Of the 30 goalies who have played 5+ games in that span, Ortio is right in the middle of the pack for even-strength save percentage. To be a good team, the Flames don’t need good goaltending, just “good enough,” and Ortio’s been good enough.
THE UNDERLYING NUMBERS
We’ll go rapid-fire here:
- Shooting percentage has been 7.8%, was 9.3% prior to deadline
- Save percentage has been 91.9%, was 89.5% prior to deadline
- Faceoff percentage has been 51.6%, was 48.4% prior to deadline
- Score-adjusted Corsi has been 49.6%, was 48.4% prior to deadline
- Their power-play Corsi has been 87.3%, was 88.9% prior to deadline
- Their penalty kill Corsi has been 15.1%, was 10.4% prior to deadline
Let’s get the warning about sample sizes out of the way up-front – we’re comparing a 10-game stretch with the prior 61 games – but there are some good improvements here.
They’ve gotten fine – not great, not awful – goaltending. Their face-offs have been better. Their score-adjusted possession game has a modest improvement. Their penalty killing is a lot better (which we’ll dig into in more detail later this week). The only things appreciably worse are their shooting percentage and their power-play possession game.
All in all? The games don’t really matter right now, but through 10 games – six of which were against aspiring playoff teams – the Flames are playing solid hockey. It’s not perfect, mistake-free hockey, but compared to how they’ve played throughout the season it’s a nice step in the right direction.