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Photo Credit: Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports

A game score look at the Flames and Ducks

When the first round schedule was set and the match-up cemented for the Calgary Flames, my first thought was wondering just who these Anaheim Ducks are. I’ve seen the Ducks five times this year, but I cannot admit a deep, abiding familiarity with them the way I can with other teams. (I blame the Pacific time zone.)

Thankfully, the metric known as game score can showcase just how well (or poorly) the Flames match up with the Ducks and if there are any holes in their lineup that could be exploited (or visa versa). With that in mind, I’ve crunched the numbers and set up a nice little comparison between the two clubs.

What’s game score?

Last spring, our pal Dom Luszczyszyn (@domluszczyszyn on Twitter) tried to encapsulate a lot of statistical noise into one handy metric for assessing game performances, taking a cue from baseball and other sports that have done the same. Tying in goals, assists, shots, blocks, Corsi differential, penalty differential, faceoff differential and goal differential, he created “game score.”

For our purposes, I’ve slightly modified game score and used even strength instead of five-on-five for the Corsi differentials for the Flames this season. Functionally speaking, it doesn’t change the numbers a heck of a lot so team-to-team comparisons likely aren’t too far off-base.

The Ducks

Here are the Ducks’ projected lines for this series. (The expectation is that Holzer will be back for Game 1, while I’ve included Ritchie rather than Kase in the lines since Ritchie’s suspension only covers Game 1.)

In terms of what the numbers mean: anything above 0.450 is considered a good average game score, while anything above 0.950 is very, very good.

LW C RW
Nick Ritchie
Nick Ritchie

GS: 0.430
Ryan Getzlaf
Ryan Getzlaf

GS: 0.870
Patrick Eaves
Patrick Eaves

GS: 0.763
Andrew Cogliano
Andrew Cogliano

GS: 0.586
Ryan Kesler
Ryan Kesler

GS: 0.760
Jakob Silfverberg
Jakob Silfverberg

GS: 0.733
Rickard Rakell
Rickard Rakell

GS: 0.773
Antoine Vermette
Antoine Vermette

GS: 0.375
Corey Perry
Corey Perry

GS: 0.650
Chris Wagner
Chris Wagner

GS: 0.143
Nate Thompson
Nate Thompson

GS: -0.021
Logan Shaw
Logan Shaw

GS: 0.137
Defensive Pairings
Hampus Lindholm
Hampus Lindholm

GS: 0.505
Brandon Montour
Brandon Montour

GS: 0.350
Josh Manson
Josh Manson

GS: 0.333
Sami Vatanen
Sami Vatanen

GS: 0.400
Korbinian Holzer
Korbinian Holzer

GS: 0.019
Kevin Bieksa
Kevin Bieksa

GS: 0.107

Extras: Shea Theodore (0.288), Jared Boll (-0.034), Ondrej Kase (0.365)

Goalies: John Gibson (0.981), Jonathan Bernier (0.709)

The good news is that the Ducks’ fourth line and third defensive pairing aren’t very good. The bad news is that the Ducks are pretty balanced otherwise. They have the ability to roll three really good lines (and two pretty solid defensive pairings, even without Cam Fowler and Clayton Stoner), which makes it tough to try to isolate their weak areas – try to pick just one line for Mikael Backlund to shut down; what about the other two? The Ducks also have two really good goaltenders and a couple perfectly acceptable options in Theodore and Kase sitting in the press box.

In other words: the Ducks are deep and pretty good.

The Flames

LW C RW
Johnny Gaudreau
Johnny Gaudreau

GS: 0.857
Sean Monahan
Sean Monahan

GS: 0.662
Micheal Ferland
Micheal Ferland

GS: 0.312
Matthew Tkachuk
Matthew Tkachuk

GS: 0.786
Mikael Backlund
Mikael Backlund

GS: 0.777
Michael Frolik
Michael Frolik

GS: 0.688
Kris Versteeg
Kris Versteeg

GS: 0.488
Sam Bennett
Sam Bennett

GS: 0.280
Alex Chiasson
Alex Chiasson

GS: 0.334
Lance Bouma
Lance Bouma

GS: 0.109
Matt Stajan
Matt Stajan

GS: 0.242
Troy Brouwer
Troy Brouwer

GS: 0.166
Defensive Pairings
Mark Giordano
Mark Giordano

GS: 0.691
Dougie Hamilton
Dougie Hamilton

GS: 0.810
T.J. Brodie
T.J. Brodie

GS: 0.400
Michael Stone
Michael Stone

GS: 0.279
Matt Bartkowski
Matt Bartkowski

GS: -0.053
Deryk Engelland
Deryk Engelland

GS: 0.252

Extras: Curtis Lazar (0.445), Dennis Wideman (0.360), Freddie Hamilton (0.109)

Goalies: Brian Elliott (0.576), Chad Johnson (0.658)

The Flames have two really good lines and a really good defensive pairing. It falls off a bit after that, as the Sam Bennett line and T.J. Brodie’s pairing are pretty decent, but not quite as good as what the Ducks have. The Flames fourth line and third defensive pairings are, statistically-speaking, liabilities on the ice.

Calgary’s goaltenders are both pretty good, though not quite as good as Anaheim’s dynamic duo. The Flames do, however, have similar depth in the press box in the form of Lazar and Wideman. For what it’s worth, though, Wideman’s functionally inter-changeable with Stone in terms of his game score impact.

The Breakdown

Goaltending: Anaheim has a clear advantage.

Defense: This is probably a tie. The Flames have a much better top pairing than anything the Ducks can trot out, but Anaheim’s depth is arguably better than Calgary’s. For now this is a tie, but it tilts in Anaheim’s favour if Stoner or Theodore push Bieksa or Holzer to the press box.

Forwards: Anaheim has a clear advantage, particularly in terms of their depth. Once you get to the third lines facing off, the Ducks could do some damage. The Flames do have a better forth line than Anaheim, but that’s not worth a ton.

In other words, the Flames are probably a deserved underdog in this series if you judge the players involved by their game scores.

  • Flaymin Frank

    Numbers, numbers, numbers. Appreciate the effort that goes into it but it can be a bit mind numbing after a while. At least for me. We are definitely the underdog. We’ll have to be at our very best every game to stretch this series out or even win it. But hey, its the playoffs. Anything can happen. There’s always one or two teams who came in low but go deep. Tenacity & desire will be first & foremost our strongest assets once we get past the talent numbers.

    GFG

    • redricardo

      This assumes that we have more tenacity (whatever that is) and desire than the Ducks. In a 7 game series a lot can happen, but regardless of the narrative it’s called “luck”. This shows that technically, we are worse.

  • Heeeeeere's Johnny!

    Actually not sure the analysis went far enough. If we sort the lines as shown above and use the average game score for each line and pairing then the Flames are slight dogs Monahan vs. Getlaf, solid favourites Backlund vs. (POS)Kessler and Stajan vs. Thompson. Bennett vs. Vermette we get killed but that line has only recently been put together and starting to play well. On the D side we win 1st pair handily, second and third pairs are a wash (unless we move out Bartkowski and then we easily win 3rd pair). Goalies are a crap shoot. Who’s going to show up and play? I’m okay with betting on Elliott.

    Summary from my point of view … we’re slight dogs but heart and speed can win this (and staying away from (POS)Kesler’s BS).

  • Greg

    Wow, look at that game score for Silvferberg! I’m really looking forward to him shaking loose in the expansion draft and landing on the Gaudreau / Monahan line next year.

  • TheRealPoc

    Slight quibble with the Ducks line combos – LeftWingLock lists Rakell-Getzlaf-Eaves as the 2nd most frequent Ducks line over the last 10 GP (19.3% of 5v5 TOI), while Ritchie-Vermette-Perry are the 3rd most frequent (14.6%). Cogliano-Kesler-Silfverberg have been the most common Ducks line all year, so I think those three combos provide you with Carlyle’s most likely lineup for Thursday night.

    Up front, I think the matchup game plays out rather predictably, due in large part to the similarities between the two clubs. Anaheim has a big-time offensive unit (Rakell w/ 33 goals this year; Getzlaf w/ a team-leading 73 points) and a possession-driving heavy minutes second unit (Cogliano-Kesler-Silfverberg ran at 56.1% 5v5 CF this year; 56.9% xGF). You know Monahan & Gaudreau are going to see a steady diet of Kesler; only makes sense for Gulutzan to deploy the 3M boys against Getzlaf & Rakell in turn. Both fourth lines are dumpster fires, but if our $10M/yr 4th line can’t outplay Wagner-Thompson-Shaw, that’s just depressing.

    The most important Flame in this series, IMO, is Sam Bennett. Tre needs to look at providing him with better wingers for next season, but Versteeg & Chiasson represent the best possible option right now and they’ve been terrific in their limited sample (58.7% score-adjusted CF @ 5v5, over ~120 mins). On the flipside, Ritchie-Vermette-Perry have actually been below break-even in their limited sample together – 49.3% score-adjusted CF @ 5v5, over ~130 mins. I get why Carlyle would want to spread out his stars up front, but he’s saddling arguably his second-best offensive talent with ineffective linemates and creating a 5v5 soft spot in his lineup as a result. If Bennett’s line starts to tilt the ice against Vermette (if that is indeed the matchup), there’s your thermal exhaust port on the Death Star, at least up front.

    I want to see Kulak replace Bartkowski on that bottom pairing, but I’m giving up hope on that front. Also, I’m not saying a series or two should replace the larger sample of available data, but this has to be the most important two-week stretch of Michael Stone’s career to date, at least from a rebuilding-value-in-the-marketplace perspective.

  • NickRash

    I think you’ll find the Lindholm/Manson pairing every bit as good as the Gio/Hamilton duo. They are both shot suppression animals. One important stat game score omits is SCF%, and while Gio/Hamilton are great in that respect, Lindholm/Manson still have the slight advantage in that area.

  • NickRash

    Here’s another encouraging statistic for us, as we all know there is no 3 on 3 or shootouts in the playoffs so if you omit all those games on the schedule and look only at Ducks and Flames games decided in regulation this season, you get the following records;

    Ducks: 40-23
    Flames: 32-33