The Flames and the next goal: a statistical look

The Calgary Flames haven’t played amazingly well as of late and their game results reflect that. They have allowed the first goal in nine consecutive games. That in itself shouldn’t be a back-breaker – our pal Garrett Hohl did an analysis of scoring first and conditional probability over at Hockey Graphs to illustrate that – but the Flames for some reason have crumpled when they get down one or (especially) two goals this season.

We dug into the numbers to check out just how challenged the Flames are at coming back from behind.

DOWN ONE GOAL

The Flames have gotten down a goal in a game – moved from a tied game state to trailing by one – 49 times through the first 51 games of the season. They have scored the next goal and tied up the game 23 times. They have allowed the next goal and gone down two goals 26 times, though twice they managed to battle back to eventually tie the game.

In other words? The Flames giving up the first goal, or blowing a lead in-game, doesn’t ever really seem to be a massive obstacle for their success.

DOWN TWO GOALS

The Flames have gotten down two goals in a game – moved from another game state to trailing by two – 26 times through the first 51 games of the season. They have scored a pair of goals and tied up the game twice – on Oct. 12 against Edmonton and on Nov. 10 against Dallas. They have stayed trailing, or seen the bleeding worsen, in the other 24 situations – including the last 15 occasions they’ve been down two goals.

ON RANDOMNESS

If goal-scoring was completely random (in other words, not dependent on the quality of players but a product of the puck bumbling around the ice haphazardly), your team has a 50% chance of tying the game up when you’re down one. The Flames have clawed back from a one-goal deficit just shy of half of the time.

When you’re down two goals, one in four subsequent future scenarios involves a tie. The Flames have tied the game up just 8% of the time, or a third as much as they should if goals are completely random events.

SOME STATS

(Stats are culled from our friends at HockeyAnalysis.)

Situation Up
2+
Up
1
Tied Down
1
Down
2+
Shooting Pct. 10.31 6.99 5.95 7.41 5.11
Save Pct. 93.58 93.47 89.47 92.45 90.77
Corsi For Pct. 43.4 43.7 51.3 53.0 58.9

SO WHAT?

As you would expect, the Flames get more puck possession when they’re down because of score effects: a team that’s winning a game sits back a bit and doesn’t pursue the puck as actively. However, both the Flames goaltending (90.77%) and shooting (5.11%) are atrocious. It’s unclear whether the Flames simply give up on the game at the point they go down two goals and give up high-danger chances against and settle for low-danger chances for, but those two aspects of their game are strangely awful.

  • Greatsave

    The Down2+ PDO isn’t great (95.88), but it’s not the worst in the league, and in that game state only 9 teams have a PDO above par.

    It’s the Tied PDO that is worrying (95.42). It’s 2nd-last in the league, ahead of only Colorado by 0.28. It’s contributing to a 37.93% GF, also 2nd-last.

    The question is: Is this a mental issue? Or is it just randomness that’s due for a correction? Since 2007, only 3 teams have finished an 82-game season with a 5v5 Tied PDO lower than 97. Never 2 in the same year. Right now there are four teams below 97: LA, Tampa, Calgary, Colorado. I would have to think that at least two, if not three, of them will have to creep back above that mark.

  • Himynameistaylor

    Just a friendly reminder: the Oilers bandwagon has plenty of spaces available and any flames fans fed up with their dumpster fire of a franchise are welcome to drop their flags and jump ship to a winning organization. We won’t judge you for being fed up ;).