Preseason game scores through 3 games

We’re four games into the preseason. It’s hard to really suss out exactly what’s happening with the sheer number of bodies at Calgary Flames camp, even after the many cuts that have been made. In an effort to separate the signal from the statistical noise, we’re going to be taking a look at game scores from Calgary’s preseason games to see how the players in the various camp battles stack up against each other.

Who’s doing well? Who’s struggling? Who’s stuck in the mucky middle?

What Are Game Scores?

Back in July, we discussed game scores in the context of the 2015-16 season as a whole.

In short, game score is an attempt to measure single-game performance
through aggregation of a bunch of statistical information. Dom Luszczyszyn over at Hockey Graphs poured through data from between 2007 and the end of this past season in
an attempt to formulate an effective measure, both for skaters and
goalies. (He aimed to make a “good” game score equally achievable for
skaters and goalies, so coefficients were scaled with that in mind.)

Here are the formulas he came up with:


Player Game Score = (0.75 * G) + (0.7 * A1) +
(0.55 * A2) + (0.075 * SOG) + (0.05 * BLK) + (0.15 * PD) – (0.15 * PT) +
(0.01 * FOW) – (0.01 * FOL) + (0.05 * CF) – (0.05 * CA) + (0.15 * GF) –
(0.15* GA)




Goalie Game Score = (-0.75 * GA) + (0.1 * SV)


For some regular season context, Johnny Gaudreau’s average game score was a 0.94. How have the individual Flames involved in camp battles fared so far during the exhibition schedule?

Battles and Game Scores

NHL Wingers:

  • Matthew Tkachuk: 0.75 vs EDM, 1.73 vs VAN; combined 2.48
  • Freddie Hamilton: -0.23 at EDM, 1.88 at WPG, -0.10 vs VAN; combined 1.55
  • Emile Poirier: 0.58 at EDM, 0.95 at WPG; combined 1.53
  • Hunter Shinkaruk: 1.07 vs EDM, 0.15 vs VAN; combined 1.22
  • Linden Vey: -0.04 at EDM, 0.44 at WPG; combined 0.40
  • Chris Higgins: 0.35 at EDM, -0.24 vs. VAN; combined 0.11
  • Garnet Hathaway: -0.60 at EDM, 0.64 at WPG, -0.02 vs. VAN; combined 0.02
  • Brandon Bollig: -0.35 vs EDM
  • Daniel
    Pribyl: injured, not skating

Tkachuk leads the way, with two pretty solid games (one of them quite strong)… at home, with two regular NHLers. He’s performed well, but he’s been in a great position to succeed. Hamilton has had one really good game and two fairly flat ones statistically. Poirier has had a pair of pretty solid games. Shinkaruk has also had a strong game and a solid game. These four players stand out overall.

After the top four, there’s a bit of gap: Vey, Higgins and Hathaway have had a mixed bag of good and bad games, and have generally averaged out to being fairly positive players overall. Hathaway’s game scores actually cancel each other out almost entirely, so he statistically seems to neither help nor harm his team’s chances of winning. Weird, eh?

Bollig’s played once and had a negative score, while Pribyl hasn’t played because he’s recovering from knee surgery.

    Seventh NHL Defender:

    • Brett Kulak: -0.55 at EDM, 2.73 at WPG; combined 2.18
    • Oliver Kylington: 0.45 vs EDM, -0.38 vs VAN; combined 0.08
    • Tyler Wotherspoon: -0.50 at EDM, -0.10 vs VAN; combined -0.60
    • Nicklas Grossmann: -0.53 at EDM, -0.15 at WPG; combined -0.68

    Kulak leads the way here, but that’s obviously on the strength of that monster game against Winnipeg. Kylington’s two outings seemingly cancel each other out, while Wotherspoon and Grossmann both have a pair of negative outings and sit noticeably behind the other two vying for the job opening in Calgary.

    At this point, it’s probably a two-horse race, but I wouldn’t rule out Wotherspoon entirely due to his waiver status.

    AHL Forwards:

    • Mikkel Aagaard: -0.11 at EDM
    • Luke Adam: -0.30 at WPG
    • Dennis Kravchenko: did not play

    Kravchenko was demoted before the games began. Aagaard had one game and then was demoted as well. Adam is still in the mix at main camp, but needs to bounce back from an iffy game in Winnipeg.

    AHL Defenders:

    • Colby Robak: -0.50 at WPG
    • Stepan Falkovsky: did not play
    • Mikhail Grigoriev: did not play

    Falkovsky was demoted before playing a game, Grigoriev is still in camp but hasn’t slotted in yet, and Robak has played once and didn’t fare too well.

      AHL/ECHL Goalies:

      • David Rittich: 0.60 at WPG
      • Mason McDonald: -0.05 vs EDM

      McDonald gave up a goal on only a few shots at home against Edmonton. Rittich entered in relief of Chad Johnson in Winnipeg and held the line, so his numbers are significantly better. McDonald has since been sent to the farm.

      Sum It Up

      Game score is one way of approximating performance. As you probably noticed, there’s a bit of variation in just about everybody‘s performances thus far in preseason and given that the NHL is known as an “everyday league,” the players on the bubble for these various NHL jobs will probably get a few more preseason dates in to make their case.

      Consistency is the challenge.

        • everton fc

          Anyone think we should somehow create a spot for Higgins?? Or maybe better said; since Gulutzan sees “value” in Higgins on the PP and PK, do the Flames make a place for him on the opening day roster? I bet he makes it to the last cut, and if there’s an injury, he’ll be on the opening day roster.

          Just a feeling. Not sure how I feel about it, one way or another.

        • Baalzamon

          You forgot Korpikoski. I can’t believe he hasn’t been released yet either, but he’s still at camp.

          What’s his game score? I’ll be shocked if it’s higher than like -5.

        • freethe flames

          On the Flames site it is saying that Backs and Frolik will be playing tomorrow; that is encouraging news. I wonder who will be their linemate. Two guys I would like to see there would be Shinkaruk or Ferland. Either would bring a unique look to the line. Shinkaruk has played with a bit of an attitude but is quite skilled. Ferland would add a level of physicality that would make this line hard to play against.

          Of course there is the real possibility that it will be Bouma in an attempt to jump start his year.

        • Arminius

          And why not Bouma with Backlund and Frolik? Bouma had a career year with Backlund..play him with Backs, give him a big raise and than take him away and watch him flounder? Makes no sense. We need Bouma going and everyone knows Backlund lifts others
          Put him back there and you’ve got a solid line. I see no issues with that

          • freethe flames

            I don’t really have a problem with it being Bouma but I would just prefer it be one of the others at this point. I would love if Bouma was closer to the player he was two years ago; for that to happen he needs to be healthy and catch a few breaks, this could happen playing with Backs and Frolik.

          • Nick24

            Because you could probably do better than Bouma. Why not throw Ferland on that line? Ferland can at least be effective on his own.
            If you actually have nobody else Bouma is okay, I guess. Why not just put a player whose more effective in that spot and limit Bouma’s minutes against lesser competition.

        • Kevin R

          I would like to see the Bennett/Tkachuk/Brouwer line intact
          I would like to see Ferland with Gaudreau/Monahan/Ferland
          I would like to see Frolik/Backlund/Bouma
          I would like to see Hamilton/Stajan/Chaisson

          Bolig/Shink alternating in when needed when circumstances dictate it.
          Porrier can be first call up.
          Cut the PTO’s, Send Vey to farm as well. Injuries happen & these guys will get NHL minutes at some point in the year.

          • RealMcHockeyReturns

            I think you have nailed opening day…can’t see it far off from what you say unless injuries or someone is awesome in last few games…maybe Higgins or Vey improves and changes this lineup but I hope not.

            • everton fc

              Shinkaruk’s better off in the “A” if he’s not going to get regular shifts up here. I hope he does – LW w/Backlund and Frolik would be nice, if Ferland can play RW on the first line. I still see him at LW, with Backlund and Frolik.

              I like Higgins, but I hope they give Vey a shot. I always hoped he’d get a chance here, when he was w/the Kings…

          • freethe flames

            To my great disappointment I have not been impressed with Chaisson and I have said all off season that I believe that the game is passing Stajan bye and from what I witnessed last night I still believe he is not an every night player (although he made a very good defensive play and saved a goal). As for Bollig the game passed him bye long ago.

            • Kevin R

              Agree about Chiasson & why I think he starts on that 4th line with Stajan & probably Hamilton, with Stajan probably moving to wing. Bolig will get a game here & there, maybe a few more if we have injuries or we get pushed around. Things can change real quick the way players go down injury wise in the NHL.

          • Newbietwo

            Partly predicting and partly what I’d like

            Geadreau/ Monohan/ Chiason
            Tkachuk or Ferland/ Bennet/ Brouwer
            Ferland or Bouma/ Backlund/ Frolik
            Bouma or Hamilton or Bolig/Stajan/ Vey

            Right or not I think Shink, Poirer ho back to minors as call ups and Higgins might also be a surprise

            • Kevin R

              Hope you’re wrong. Don’t see Vey sticking, he was signed to a two way deal for depth. I just don’t see Chiason on top line unless we struggle & Gully wants to shake things up.

        • JKG

          Anyone else think they keep Higgins as a PK specialist? Seems like the PR is pumping that angle lately. I suppose I wouldn’t mind it if it means ditching Bollig or something to that effect.

        • KACaribou

          Darren Haynes thinks these are the spots to fill in, so who goes there?

          Gaudreau – Monahan – _______

          _______ – Bennett – Brouwer

          _______ – Backlund – Frolik

          _______ – Stajan – _______

          • freethe flames

            I read Haynes quite a bit but if you needed him to paint this picture for you then ????

            Based on preseason it really appears that Tkachuk will be given the opportunity to play the B&B. As neither of the other top 3 lines have played we have little indication as to who they might be. Maybe tonight GG will give us some idea as it is expected that M&M will play together tonight. Would it surprise me at all to see Bouma with them;no. Who would I prefer to see there: either Ferland or Shinkaruk. It could also be one of the PTO’s being given a chance.

            As far as who plays with Stajan it had better be two guys who can skate and play the PK not guys who can’t play.