We’re past the halfway point of the 2017-18 Calgary Flames season. The Flames have two more points than they did at this time a year ago – hooray – but it’s probably prudent to take a more individual look at the club’s performance. We’ve been tracking player game scores for each and every game, and we’ve aggregated them to provide a snapshot of half-season performances.
Game score explained
Game score was conceptualized by Dom Luszczyszyn, currently of The Athletic, in an attempt to capture player performance in one comparable number. Here’s how he summed it up for Hockey Graphs:
It’s not a perfect stat – it’s meant to be a rough measure after-all – but I do think it works well for its intended purpose and is effective at what it does. It’s meant to answer “who had the best game” by adding proper perspective to a combination of a player’s total contributions and into an easily understood all-in-one stat.
For skaters, game score uses goals, primary assists, secondary assists, shots on goal, blocked shots, penalty differential, faceoffs, 5-on-5 corsi differential and 5-on-5 goal differential. For goaltenders, it uses saves and goals against. I’ve made one minor modification, reflecting goaltender assists and penalty differential, to reflect Mike Smith’s contributions in those areas.
Here are the Flames’ average game scores through 41 games. If a player has played less than that, it’s been noted. Last season’s game scores are also included in parentheses, as well as changes from last season’s score.
Great (0.95 and up):
- F Johnny Gaudreau: 1.153 (0.857, +0.296)
- G Mike Smith: 1.057 [35 GP]
- F Sean Monahan: 0.958 (0.662, +0.296)
Here’s the good news: take away the slow-ass starts they had to open 2016-17, and Gaudreau and Monahan are very, very good. Smith has also been precisely what Brad Treliving hoped he would be: a very strong starting goaltender.
Good (0.45 to 0.95):
- F Matthew Tkachuk: 0.901 [39 GP] (0.786, +0.115)
- D Mark Giordano: 0.879 (0.691, +0.188)
- D Dougie Hamilton: 0.812 (0.810, +0.002)
- G David Rittich: 0.800 [5 GP]
- F Micheal Ferland: 0.729 [40 GP] (0.312, +0.417)
- F Mikael Backlund: 0.681 (0.777, -0.096)
- F Michael Frolik: 0.665 [37 GP] (0.688, -0.023)
- F Garnet Hathaway: 0.544 [18 GP] (0.139, +0.405)
- D Rasmus Andersson: 0.500 [1 GP]
- F Mark Jankowski: 0.490 [33 GP]
Nobody on the Flames has improved, on average, more than Ferland. He’s made the leap from being a complementary player to perhaps being considered part of the team’s core. Tkachuk has improved a bit, while Backlund and Frolik have dipped by roughly the same amount – this seems to be some of the “noise” in the numbers, the trio overall is about as successful as they were a year ago. Giordano has made a big leap, Rittich has established himself as a steady hand in the backup role, while Hathaway’s big improvement and Jankowski’s arrival have really given the Flames a lot more depth in this group.
Fine (0.15 to 0.45):
- F Sam Bennett: 0.415 (0.280, +0.135)
- F Jaromir Jagr: 0.407 [22 GP]
- D T.J. Brodie: 0.399 (0.400, -0.001)
- F Kris Versteeg: 0.353 [22 GP] (0.488, -0.135)
- D Brett Kulak: 0.249 [31 GP]
- D Travis Hamonic: 0.239 [37 GP]
- F Andrew Mangiapane: 0.228 [3 GP]
- D Michael Stone: 0.216 (0.297, -0.081)
- F Troy Brouwer: 0.202 (0.166, +0.036)
Let me pose a question: if the Flames spent three high draft picks to bring in a more suitable partner for Brodie, and his performance is essentially unchanged from a year ago, who should be considered the disappointment? In other news, Versteeg’s bad numbers are potentially from playing hurt (and on the fourth line), while Bennett’s really improved after being rescued from his third line center purgatory. (I fully expect him to nudge into the next grouping within the next few weeks.)
Bad (-0.15 to 0.15):
- F Curtis Lazar: 0.126 [27 GP] (0.445, -0.319)
- F Matt Stajan: 0.123 [31 GP] (0.242, -0.119)
- D Matt Bartkowski: -0.023 [13 GP] (-0.053, -0.030)
- F Freddie Hamilton: -0.034 [8 GP] (.109, -0.143)
- F Tanner Glass: -0.078 [7 GP]
Lazar’s played more than four games this season and his numbers are bad. Stajan is what he is. After them, we get into the muck with fringe bodies (and below that).
Awful (below -0.15):
- G Eddie Lack: -0.950 [4 GP]
- G Jon Gillies: -1.350 [1 GP]
Gillies’ number is based on a partial game that was way out of hand. Lack’s? Not so much.