How many games have the Flames lost due to the powerplay?

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
Oct. 21 Wild 4-2 1-for-6
Dec. 2 Oilers 7-5 1-for-6
Dec. 12 Wild 2-1 (SO) 0-for-3
Dec. 14 Sharks 3-2 0-for-3
Dec. 16 Predators 2-0 0-for-5
Dec. 28 Sharks 3-2 (SO) 1-for-3
Dec. 29 Ducks 2-1 0-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
Nov. 25 Avalanche 3-2 1-for-4
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.

  • Derzie

    Step 1: Replace Brouwer, Stajan, Lazar & Stone with callups.

    Step 2: Replace GG and Cameron with a coaching staff that has won at multiple levels

    Step: Enjoy.

    It’s pretty simple, yet here we are.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    What was their success rate with Versteeg as opposed to without him? Surprised he wasn’t mentioned in the article. Also, the next time anyone feels like calling for trades or firings, cool, but remember this:

    “It is SINGLEHANDEDLY killing them, and has been for a month and a half now.”

    PP gets fixed and URReebody happy.

    • Off the wall

      BTF, It’s overwhelmingly surprising that most FN members can see that we’re not going to win with this coaching staff. All with the exception of a few of you believe otherwise.

      The last time I checked, (after the Oiler game) it was unanimous 39-9 in favour of firing GG.

      Change your story, or perhaps find something better to do..

      • cjc

        Um, last time I checked people were allowed to have dissenting opinions here. Unless you are a moderator, you have no business telling someone “think like I do or stop coming here”. And honestly I think everyone that comments incessantly here could find something better to do. We don’t and that’s okay, but we should not try to take ourselves too seriously.

        Also, unanimous means everyone agrees, like 48-0. 39-9 is the opposite of unanimous #pedant.

  • Jessemadnote

    While I agree the powerplay is an issue, I’m not a fan of the conclusion you’ve drawn here. Flames have 29 goals in 171 powerplayes for 17%. Lets say that was 20% which is the NHL average: 5 additional goals. So you’re saying that the Flames can get 9 more wins with 5 additional goals? Those are some strategically placed goals Ari.

    • BendingCorners

      Why settle for average? Suppose the team had a league-leading PP and scored on 25% of their opportunities. That’s 43 goals, 14 more than their actual total. Distribute them randomly and some of them will lead to extra points and some will not. Use the 16 games (total) that Ari picked, 63 opportunities and 9 PP goals. Five extra goals in those games could easily produce 5 extra points (but not 9, your observation stands). The Flames would have 63 points and be in 2nd in their division. Ari overstated her case a bit, but her broader point is still valid.

      • JoelOttosJock

        Hard to have an above average PP with below average talent and way under average coaching..the PP is surprisingly better than I would have suspected with the units amd coaching.

      • L.Kolkind

        That is a lot fairer, I do agree that the case is overstated such as the Dec 18 game against the sharks, and the Jan 22 game against the Sabres where the powerplay went 1-3. This is quite reasonable for a pp and did not cost us the game. Even the first two games where the pp went 1-6 this is just slightly under league average and in one game the Flames lost by two. To tie this game we would’ve needed the pp to go 3-6 which isn’t too reasonable to expect. I think one of the more telling signs of the lack of ability to convert on the pp is that only 4 times has the pp won the game. I do not know what this stat is like for other teams, but for teams with a good pp I would expect this number to be quite a bit higher.

    • Cheeky

      So what you’re saying is stay status quo, maybe resign Cameron long term because the (lack of) powerplay has absolutely nothing to do with our losses? I believe Ari was simply pointing out that if we had scored just 1 damn PP goal in certain games we wouldn’t be as crappy as we are. Don’t just look at stats either as in how many goals are scored. At times we have momentum then our PP goes out and stinks up the joint allowing the other team to turn the tide in their favor. Plain and simple- our PP has cost us games and many points…