The season so far in seven-game segments

Seemingly eons ago, Bob Hartley gained a lot of praise from fans and onlookers for his method of chopping the 82-game National Hockey League season into digestible seven-game chunks. The justification was that it approximated playoff series length, and if a team wins enough seven-game segments they’d be very likely to make the playoffs.

In the interest of taking a different look at the Flames’ struggles thus far, we’ve done the same thing to this season. Hartley may be gone, but his legacy lives on. (But only in this one, specific way. Okay, this and the stretch pass…)

SEGMENT 1: October 12-24

The Flames were not very good during this segment. Their special teams were okay, but this was a segment where they repeatedly found ways to lose. They weren’t great at even strength and their offense-generating forwards didn’t do much generating of offense. Their goaltending was also generally not good.

  • Opponents: Edmonton (twice), Vancouver, Buffalo, Carolina, St. Louis and Chicago
  • Record: 2-4-1
  • PP: 3-for-30 (10%)
  • PK: 8 in 33 (75.8%)
  • Goal Differential: -5
  • Corsi For: 49.5% (48.1% score-adjusted)

Goalies:

  • Elliott: 1-3-0, 3.96 GAA, .867 SV%, .894 ES%
  • Johnson: 1-1-1, 2.89 GAA, .901 SV%, .915 ES%

Selected Skaters:

  • Brodie: 46.5 CF%, 1 assist
  • D. Hamilton: 53.0 CF%, 2 assists
  • Giordano: 45.4 CF%, 1 goal, 4 assists
  • Monahan: 46.8 CF%, 3 goals
  • Gaudreau: 48.0 CF%, 1 goal, 2 assists
  • Tkachuk: 53.1 CF%, 1 goal (5 games)
  • Backlund: 40.0 CF%, 4 assists

(Giordano tied with Brouwer for the team lead in scoring with five points.)

    SEGMENT 2: October 25-November 6

    The Flames were a lot better at even strength, but the bottom absolutely fell out of their special teams. Of note: they drew fewer penalties and took fewer penalties than in the prior segment. Gaudreau improved in this segment, but few of the other big guns did in terms of scoring. Goaltending improved, though.

    • Opponents: St. Louis, Ottawa, Washington, Chicago, San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim
    • Record: 3-4-0
    • PP: 1-for-18 (5.5%)
    • PK: 8 in 25 (68.0%)
    • Goal differential: -7
    • Corsi For: 50.3% (49.9% score-adjusted)

    Goalies:

    • Elliott: 2-3-0, 2.82 GAA, .903 SV%, .916 ES%
    • Johnson: 1-1-0, 3.00 GAA, .878 SV%, .914 ES%

    Selected Skaters:

    • Brodie: 50.5 CF%, 1 assist
    • Hamilton: 51.5 CF%, 2 goals, 2 assists
    • Giordano: 50.8 CF%, 0 points
    • Monahan: 46.0 CF%, 1 goal, 1 assist
    • Gaudreau: 39.8 CF%, 1 goal, 4 assists
    • Tkachuk: 62.4 CF%, 2 goals, 3 assists
    • Backlund: 63.0 CF%, 1 goal, 2 assists

    (Tkachuk, Gaudreau and Frolik tied for the team lead in scoring with five points.)

      SEGMENT 3: November 10-21

      The Flames were really, really good at even strength and their special teams rebounded slightly. They continued to cut down on penalties. The divergence in goaltending outcomes is arguably the big story here – aside from Gaudreau’s injury.

      • Opponents: Dallas, NY Rangers, Minnesota, Arizona, Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo
      • Record: 3-4-0
      • PP: 2-for-23 (8.7%)
      • PK: 5-in-19 (73.7%)
      • Goal differential: -5
      • Corsi For: 54.4% (53.2% score-adjusted)

      Goalies:

      • Elliott: 0-3-0, 3.71 GAA, .864 SV%, .894 ES%
      • Johnson: 3-1-0, 1.50 GAA, .937 SV%, .940 ES%

      Selected Skaters:

      • Brodie: 48.3 CF%, 2 assists
      • Hamilton: 59.9 CF%, 4 assists
      • Giordano: 62.7 CF%, 2 assists
      • Monahan: 59.6 CF%, 1 goal, 2 assists
      • Gaudreau 70.4 CF%, 3 goals (3 games)
      • Tkachuk: 52.4 CF%, 2 goals, 1 assist (5 games)
      • Backlund 52.1 CF%, 2 goals

      (Frolik led the team in scoring with five points.)

        SEGMENT 4: November 23-December 4

        The Flames arguably played their worst hockey (in terms of possession) during this segment, but their special teams were really good – despite an uptick in penalties against – and that was easily enough to help them to their best segment in terms of results this season. Both goaltenders played well.

        • Opponents: Columbus, Boston, Philadelphia, NY Islanders, Toronto, Minnesota and Anaheim
        • Record: 5-1-1
        • PP: 5-for-16 (31.3%)
        • PK: 2-in-27 (92.6%)
        • Goal differential: +8
        • Corsi For: 45.4% (47.3% score-adjusted)

        Goalies:

        • Elliott: 0-0-1, 1.95 GAA, .926 SV%, .909 ES%
        • Johnson: 5-1-0, 1.82 GAA, .948 SV%, .945 ES%

        Selected Skaters:

        • Brodie: 43.5 CF%, 1 goal, 2 assists
        • Hamilton: 50.7 CF%, 1 goal, 2 assists
        • Giordano: 49.8 CF%, 1 goal, 2 assists
        • Monahan: 42.3 CF%, 2 goals, 3 assists
        • Gaudreau 50.0 CF%, 1 goal, 1 assist (1 game)
        • Tkachuk: 53.2 CF%, 1 goal, 2 assists
        • Backlund 51.7 CF%, 1 goal, 2 assists

        (Bennett, Versteeg and Chiasson were tied for the lead in scoring with six points.)

        SUM IT UP

        If Calgary captured eight points out of each seven-game segment to date, which would equate with “winning” each segment, they would currently have 32 points. They have 28 points right now, so they’re four points behind a theoretical playoff pace of 93 points. Granted, current projections for the Western Conference are aiming a tad lower (around 85-87 points), but this provides a general guideline for how well they need to play to make it. In short? If they keep chugging along at this pace – winning four of every seven – they should have a decent chance at making the postseason… despite their horrid start.

        As a general observation, it’s interesting that the Flames are doing as well as they have been given (a) aside from their goaltenders nobody’s really gotten hot in any single segment and (b) their even strength play seems to waver a lot from segment to segment, a sign of their general inconsistency. If (or when) some of their scorers do get it going, it might be enough to counter any cooling down that happens with their goaltenders.

            • kid presentable

              i hope that gaudreau sparks an improvement in 5 on 5 play. i noticed that (aside from the game last night) they’ve mainly been trying to do enough to get a lead and then sit back. it doesn’t seem like a good way to win in the long run.

              • kittensandcookies

                No one’s planning a parade. They have to play at the same win % they have been recently in order to solidify a playoff spot. And they can’t afford any more protracted losing streaks.

                But at least it doesn’t cause actual physical pain to watch the team play now.

            • al rain

              The slightly manipulative thing about a coach wanting fans (or his boss) to view the season in 7-game chunks is that we see “playoff round” and think a 4-3 record is pretty good. Truth is that lots of those games are against non-playoff teams so 4-3 is not that great.

              • Torchy

                I think you are reading too much into this. It’s a motivational technique.

                16/30 teams make the playoffs, a few will only miss by a few points, and with a few exceptions every team is trying to win.

            • Newbietwo

              I believe they will make the play offs and might actually surprise a few teams in the next few months.. team is trending upwards in all areas and others have regressed

            • Derzie

              I know this is a stats web site but the only segment we won was the worst Corsi-for and best goal differential. Corsi is a tie-breaker when other key stats are assessed. Win/loss. Goal differential.

              • Torchy

                Yeah, tossing a fancy number out there with no context is pretty foolish and definitely perpetuates the “stat guy” stereotype

                I’d be interested to see if there are any insights as to why the posession stats dropped?

                Did the Flames play 4 good games and get absolutely hammered the other 3?

                Were the Flames brutal and only winning thanks to excellent goaltending?

                Are they conceding more perimeter shots because they are confident Johnson will make the stop?

                Did they just flat out miss the net more often than normal over these 7 games?

                • The Fall

                  Possesion/ Corsi was developed to get more countable events as shot totals were too small a sample size to gain any added insight into a game or player. It’s best looked at over a season. Quoting Corsi as an indicator of possesion in a small sample size is redundant; shot totals are a fine measure of game to game performance.

                  My sassy point is more that the one cherry picked stat is enough for the segment in question to have a lead in sentnace like this was the ‘worse’ hockey even though it was the most successful by every other conventional measure.

                    • The Fall

                      I’m not militant or binary either way; it just makes me question the credibility of the source when used improperly.

                      The content in this site is usually quite good.

                    • trox

                      In the writer’s defense, he says that this was “arguably” their worst hockey from a possession standpoint.

                      I would take that to mean that he is well aware that the smaller the sample size, the less useful are corsi stats. He is simply presenting these statistics to give as full a statistical picture as possible of each 7 game segment. When he refers to their special teams functioning well during that segment, I think it is also implied that he is saying that other variables like PP and PK are more significant over a short stretch of games.

            • knappsacked

              seven game segments aren’t enough… you need to win special teams. teams that make the playoffs have a special teams total of 100 or higher. For example, if we score on 15 % of our powerplays, and kill off at least 85 % of our penalties, we have a great chance to make the post-season. anything lower and it is an uphill battle.

            • Newbietwo

              Advanced stats are a crap shoot for a very simple reason.. it might track the outcome but it does not track the reason.. eg how a defender clears the puck as in where the puck was.. what support they got and who supported.. I have little confidence in advanced stats and when you look at those who do it’s a fail mostly or at the very least mixed results

              Take Toronto, look at Phoenix who have gone full out with advanced stats and then look at Russel and his battle with advanced stats yet it’s clear he’s a difference one edmonton

            • everton fc

              Advanced stats and “calculus” aside, when this team is trailing after two periods, with Johnson in net, I get the feeling we’ll come back and tie the game, or even win it. I didn’t have this feeling a month ago. Nor did most of you reading this.

              This, in itself, is a significant “lead indicator”. At least for this fan – and a lot of this progression occurred sans “Johnny Hockey”.

              I give GG some credit here. He seems to have righted the ship a bit. Even Brodie looks more comfortable out there. Wideman is not so much a liability. And so on. If the PP can begin to click, and our PK can keep up the recent good work…

              I see us in the playoffs… I mean, Chiasson had a Gordie Howe hat-trick last game – how can we not make the playoffs?! 🙂