It’s not exactly news that the Flames’ powerplay has been costing them games. With a success rate of 17.0%, it sits a surprisingly high 24th in the NHL.
The Flames are well aware it’s a problem. Troy Brouwer is apparently being given another chance on the top unit, replacing Mikael Backlund. At this point, it just feels like shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic; the Flames have a number of talented offensive players, but none of them have been able to solve the problem.
So, just how many games have the Flames actually lost due to their poor powerplay?
I tried to use strict criteria when judging what games the Flames’ powerplay has cost them.
- Multiple powerplay opportunities in the game were required. Not scoring on one powerplay chance isn’t the end of the world.
- The powerplay, in said game, had to have a success rate of under 100% to get them the win. If they needed a perfect powerplay to win, they had other problems.
- The powerplay had to get them the win in regulation, not merely force overtime.
Based on those metrics, 50 games into the season, the Flames’ powerplay has cost them 12 games, and 18 points.
|Date||Opponent||Final Score in Loss||PP Success Rate|
|Dec. 12||Wild||2-1 (SO)||0-for-3|
|Dec. 28||Sharks||3-2 (SO)||1-for-3|
|Jan. 20||Jets||2-1 (SO)||0-for-4|
|Jan. 22||Sabres||2-1 (OT)||1-for-3|
|Jan. 24||Kings||2-1 (OT)||0-for-5|
|Jan. 25||Oilers||4-3 (SO)||0-for-4|
|Jan. 30||Golden Knights||4-2 (EN)||0-for-3|
Things weren’t always so dire. Prior to their Dec. 12 loss to the Wild, the Flames’ powerplay had really only cost them two games. That’s acceptable; it’s not going to be on every night, and two games out of 30 is a blip.
Since Dec. 12, however, the Flames have lost nine of their past 20 games due to the powerplay. Included are a three-game losing streak and the current five-game losing streak.
The Flames have lost six games in extra time thanks to an inability to score just one more powerplay goal in regulation. How big of a difference does that make? They’d go from 58 points to 64, which would have them second in their division, and eighth league-wide. Instead, they’re fifth in their division and 17th league-wide.
Let’s aim a little higher. It’s unlikely the Flames’ powerplay would come through for them every time they needed it, so scrap adding an additional 18 points to their total; how about nine? If they’d been able to earn just half of the points their poor man advantage has cost them, they’d be at 67 points on the season: three back of the division lead. (One back, if we count their loss to Vegas as two of the reclaimed points.) They’d be fourth in the NHL.
A truly horrendous powerplay has them within a coin flip of the playoffs. A powerplay doing the bare minimum has them in a playoff spot. A half-decent powerplay has them as one of the best teams in the NHL. That’s how dire their complete inability to do anything with a man advantage – a system designed for them to score – has been.
The Flames have had the seventh most powerplay opportunities in the NHL and they’re 20th in the league in powerplay goals for. It is singlehandedly killing them, and has been for a month and a half now.
Flip side: How many games have they won thanks to the powerplay?
In the interests of fairness, surely the powerplay has been a positive for the Flames on occasion. It has to have won them some games at this point in the season. Using similar criteria as above, here are the four games in which their man advantage has actually helped them:
|Date||Opponent||Final Score in Win||PP Success Rate|
|Nov. 2||Penguins||2-1 (OT)||1-for-4|
|Nov. 18||Flyers||5-4 (OT)||3-for-5|
|Dec. 31||Blackhawks||4-3 (OT)||2-for-2|
Four games it helped them win – three of which went into overtime anyway. Nine games, it’s cost them.