Photo Credit: James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports

Numbers from the Flames’ 10-game win streak

When the Calgary Flames defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, they became the fourth NHL team this season to win 10 games in a row, joining the Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, and Philadelphia Flyers. They’ve taken the streak and used it to vault themselves into contention for a home ice playoff spot: something that would have been unthinkable earlier in the season.

It is, of course, not going to last. You want to talk about sustainability; winning another 10 games in a row is probably not that. The NHL record is 17, after all. Winning another 10 right now would see them carry this victory streak into April – which is a little difficult to imagine, even for the most dedicated of supporters.

But that doesn’t mean the Flames are a paper tiger, either. Yes, they’ve been a team that has been getting the bounces more often than not over the course of this streak, but they’ve earned it.

All numbers are from Corsica, 5v5, score and venue adjusted.

Stat 10-game streak Entire season
CF% 52.37 (4th in NHL) 50.87 (13th in NHL)
SCF% 51.59 (9th in NHL) 47.39 (23rd in NHL)
GF% 76.59 (1st in NHL) 50.25 (15th in NHL)
xGF% 52.17 (6th in NHL) 48.70 (T-20th in NHL)
Sh% 11.43 (1st in NHL) 7.43 (18th in NHL)
Sv% 96.23 (2nd in NHL) 92.29 (15th in NHL)
PDO 107.66 (1st in NHL) 99.72 (19th in NHL)

Three numbers from this streak in particular stand out: their goals for percentage, shooting percentage, and PDO. Remember back in January when Kent Wilson noted the entire Flames team basically turned into a bunch of Engellands, and it wasn’t likely to last? That’s corrected itself in a big way, and that’s the part that likely is unsustainable. Their save percentage has spiked as well, and that has a good shot of falling back to earth, too.

But it’s not like the Flames haven’t earned some of those numbers. Yes, they’re getting a lot of goals – but they’re also creating those opportunities. I keep saying this, but it’s not at all like the 44% CF team of the 2014-15 season. Throughout this streak, the Flames have been outshooting their opposition. Throughout the season, they have been outshooting their opposition – just not to as great an extent, but still good enough to be in the top half of the NHL, lows of the year included.

There’s one stat I really want to point to that’s made a major jump, though: scoring chances for. The Flames aren’t a top team in the NHL at this. They’re top 10, but they’re not among the very best. But they are so, so, so much better at this now than where they were through the rest of the season. They won’t be able to maintain a lot of these numbers, but if they can maintain that one, they’ve probably turned a corner. Because generating more scoring chances isn’t as reliant on luck as a stepped up shooting percentage is – they can control that. They can drive to the net more and keep other teams boxed out from theirs, and that’s part of what’s led to this streak. (Even just against the Penguins, which featured a number of fluke goals, how chaotic a crease did they make it for Marc-Andre Fleury?)

There have been two major lineup changes since this streak began: Michael Stone joined the team, and Micheal Ferland joined the top line. Stone has missed the past two games, but the streak has continued; Ferland has made the top line that much more dangerous, giving the Flames another threat when Mikael Backlund’s line is tied up with the opposition’s top players. I’d go so far as to suggest Ferland’s impact is greater than Stone’s for that reason alone, but the mid-tier of the defence does perform much better with Stone in the lineup (bless Engelland’s contributions, but having him out on the ice at the same time is Sidney Crosby is scary; being able to shelter him works to his and the team’s benefit).

Those two roster moves didn’t turn the Flames into one of the very best in the NHL overnight, though. There’s still more work to be done – re-signing Kris Versteeg and getting a more capable winger for him and Sam Bennett, and finding an ideal top four defence partner for T.J. Brodie, namely – but that will have to wait for next season. Then we might – might – be able to start treating some of those 10-game streak numbers as entire season numbers. That’s when a team has reached contender status.

A season is the sum of its parts. The Flames have had two horrible stretches in October and January. They had a six-game winning streak in late November and early December. They have their current streak, which has come at a particularly great time. Every single one of the games they have played has the exact same weight in the standings.

What we’re seeing right now, though, is a team in the final stages of a rebuild. They aren’t out of the woods yet – but they can see the sun shining.

  • cunning_linguist

    Question – If the Flames are generating substantially more scoring chances and also allowing substantially fewer against, would that not lead to a PDO spike? In other words, shooting percentages for a scoring chance must be alot higher than those for a non-dangerous Corsi event and would therefore drive up team SH%. Conversely, reducing scoring chances against should drive up your goalie’s SV% should it not? Point of my question, is it fair to attribute a PDO spike entirely to luck? If you are attributing the elevated PDO to luck, you can’t give the Flames full credit for their scoring chance differential, as it seems the two should logically be linked… On the flip side, if the Flames are structurally earning this scoring chance differential, then you can’t be so quick to assume our percentages are totally inflated and due to regress.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    I think Calgary making it to contender status wil come down to Bennett finding his mojo in the nhl, and how our prospects turn out. That, and if Brouwer comes around or gets pitched.

  • Baalzamon

    Where are you getting that the Flames are top 10 in SCF? They’re like sixth from last (7.24 SCF60 according to Corsica, better only than Colorado, Florida, St Louis, New Jersey, and Tampa Bay). That’s why the SCF% is so poor (they’re actually average in the SCA department).

    • piscera.infada

      That statement was in regards to the streak, no? I think the argument was “if this ‘spike’ in scoring chances proves not to be anomalous, then regression in the other numbers shouldn’t matter as much”. That’s how I took it at least.

  • Stan

    This team will become true contenders if BT can accomplish the following in the offseason:

    1) Dump Brouwer.
    2) Resign Bennett, Ferland and Versteeg (after the expansion draft) to reasonable 2-3 year contracts.
    3) Acquire a true #4 dman through trade or free agency.
    4) Resign Stone or acquire a different, capable #5 dman.
    5) Acquire a top winger for the Bennett/Versteeg line through trade or free agency.

    If BT does all the above, I’d consider the Flames to be contenders next year. Bonus points if he can dump Bouma to make room for someone who impresses in camp.

  • The Doctor

    Good article. RE: the shooting percentage, there certainly were a lot of games earlier in the season where our possession was ok, but our offensive finish was terrible (and, related to that, our offensive zone play was not very creative, did not make the opposition goalie move around much, etc.). A shining example of that was that game against the Canucks in Vancouver where we massively out-possessed, out-zoned and outshot them yet the Canucks won in OT.

  • Lucky 13

    One thing stands out to me and it’s not based on this per se, is that we were 29th in the league on special teams, both respectively up until mid November.Since Nov 15th the Flames have been the 2nd best on PP @23.6% and 5th in PK @83.5%

    We marvel at the success in this 10 game winning streak, however looking back to Nov 15 onward we have been a good team… yes some hiccups along the way, but up until mid November we were playing .344 hockey. Since then we are playing.670 hockey!

    To put that into perspective only 4 other teams have a better record than Calgary since that time. Guess who they are?

    Columbus, Minnesota, Washington, Pittsburgh in that order. Pretty impressive stuff I’d say…..

    I’m not the least bit surprised we are seeing the results of a good hockey team!