Flames in seven games: 4-3-0 in 2018-19’s first segment

The idea of analyzing seven-game segments isn’t particularly new. Playoff series are a best of seven, after all, and there are 11 seven-game segments (and one five-gamer) throughout the season to analyze: a frequent enough check-in without being too overbearing. So we’re going to start checking in with the Flames and how they compare to the rest of the NHL, as well as each other, over the course of this season.

(Yes, Bill Peters has his five-game splits, but we decided to stick with seven as it feels like a more natural fit.)

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All underlying numbers via Corsica.

Team stats

The Flames went 4-3-0 through their first seven games: a winning record. They have a .571 winning percentage through the season so far, tied for 16th in the NHL, seventh in the Western Conference, and third in the Pacific Division.

  • Their goals for per game is 3.71, tying them for sixth overall in the NHL. They’re second among Western Conference teams, and first in the Pacific Division.
  • Their goals against per game is 3.29, tying them for 20th overall in the NHL. They’re 11th among Western Conference teams, and in a three-way tie for last in the Pacific Divison.
  • Their goal differential is +3, tying them for ninth in the NHL. They’re fourth among Western Conference teams, and second in the Pacific Division.
  • Their powerplay is at 19.4%, 17th in the NHL. They’re eighth in the Western Conference, and fourth in the Pacific Division.
  • Their penalty kill is at 81.5%, 11th in the NHL. They’re seventh in the Western Conference, and fifth in the Pacific Division.
  • At 9:00 penalty minutes per game, the Flames have taken the 16th most penalties in the NHL. They’ve taken the sixth most penalties per game in the Western Conference, and third most among Pacific Division teams.
  • Their 5v5 CF/60 is 64.86, fifth highest in the NHL. They’re fourth among Western Conference teams, and third in the Pacific Division.
  • Their 5v5 CA/60 is 51.51, eighth lowest in the NHL. They’re third lowest among both Western Conference and Pacific Division teams.
  • Their 5v5 CF is 55.74%, fifth highest in the NHL. Fourth among Western Conference teams; third in the Pacific Division.
  • Their 5v5 shooting percentage is 9.09%, 15th in the NHL.
  • Their 5v5 save percentage is 90.26%, 25th in the NHL.
  • Their PDO is 99.35, 20th in the NHL.

The immediate takeaways from these numbers?

The Flames’ plan to overhaul their forwards in the offseason has, apparently, worked: the Flames are among the top shot and chance generators in the NHL, and could even be scoring more goals if they’re able to get their powerplay together, and if their shooting percentage swings a little more in their favour.

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However, goaltending and defence has been a major problem: they’re great at scoring goals, but not so great at keeping them out of their net. They’re good at limiting overall shot chances against, but too many pucks are still finding their way in.

Player stats

Let’s start with the forwards (all situations, ordered by ice time).

Game scores courtesy of our very own Ryan Pike: 0.950 and above is considered great; 0.450-0.950 good; 0.150-0.450 fine; -0.150-0.150 bad; under -0.150 awful.

Player TOI Goals Points P/60 SH% CF% GF% ZSR Game score
Gaudreau 144.93 3 10 4.14 13.64 60.54 56.52 66.35 +1.300
Lindholm 141.92 5 8 3.38 33.33 55.64 50.00 54.24 +0.936
Monahan 140.02 4 7 3.00 25.00 59.92 56.52 66.99 +0.923
Backlund 127.30 1 4 1.89 4.55 62.93 57.14 46.88 +0.938
Tkachuk 124.73 3 10 4.81 16.67 69.66 75.00 68.18 +1.486
Neal 110.77 1 2 1.08 7.14 59.70 58.33 60.56 +0.480
Ryan 96.27 1 2 1.25 16.67 51.46 50.00 47.76 +0.381
Bennett 87.12 2 3 2.07 18.18 59.01 60.00 44.19 +0.725
Czarnik 80.63 1 3 2.23 7.69 64.42 50.00 63.64 +0.904
Frolik 68.65 3 3 2.62 30.00 48.39 57.14 43.24 +0.487
Dube 64.68 0 1 0.93 0 46.90 25.00 51.16 +0.157
Jankowski 47.33 0 0 0 0 57.53 0.00 45.00 +0.303
Hathaway 25.13 0 0 0 0 48.65 0.00 53.85 -0.050
Peulso 9.65 0 0 0 0 60.00 n/a 50.00 +0.188

It’s no surprise who’s getting the most ice, and for the most part, they’re all performing rather well. Mikael Backlund is, predictably, getting the defensive zone starts and once again succeeding, while the other heavily-used forwards are making the most of their offensive zone ice time.

At a glance, it appears some forwards are being underused, Matthew Tkachuk in particular. Michael Frolik has gotten off to a good start (game against the Bruins in particular), but may be the beneficiary of good luck for that (check that shooting percentage, and unlike Elias Lindholm, he isn’t scoring quite as much), while both Sam Bennett and Austin Czarnik’s underlyings are promising (edge to Bennett because he’s actually done more and hasn’t gotten the Backlund bump as much as Czarnik has).

Derek Ryan and James Neal may be in the overused category, though Ryan is getting more defensive zone starts. It’s only been seven games, though, so too early to call for any repercussions. Mark Jankowski hasn’t done much with what he’s gotten, while some of the shine is wearing off of Dillon Dube (which is fine! He’s a rookie and it would be understandable if he doesn’t spend the whole year in the NHL).

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The Flames’ most common line combinations at 5v5 have been:

Gaudreau Monahan Lindholm
Tkachuk Backlund Frolik
Tkachuk Backlund Czarnik

And the defence (all situations, ordered by ice time):

Player TOI Goals Points P/60 SH% CF% GF% ZSR Game score
Giordano 176.00 1 6 2.05 5.00 62.18 69.57 49.62 +1.307
Brodie 154.37 0 4 1.55 0.00 55.75 52.63 44.04 +0.889
Hanifin 144.73 0 2 0.83 0.00 50.38 46.15 39.36 +0.329
Stone 110.87 0 4 2.16 0.00 48.04 46.15 45.71 +0.507
Valimaki 103.05 1 1 0.58 10.00 51.58 27.27 72.41 +0.329
Andersson 73.10 0 0 0 0.00 46.62 40.00 57.78 +0.130
Hamonic 14.58 0 0 0 n/a 66.67 50.00 25.00 +0.700
Prout 13.75 0 0 0 0.00 60.00 33.33 50.00 +0.225

With Travis Hamonic out after just one game, the Flames have been primarily leaning on Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, and Noah Hanifin. Unsurprisingly, Giordano has been king among Flames defenders; his results are great across the board. A small explosion of points from Brodie and Michael Stone has helped their cases, and Brodie is seeing a boon being reunited with Giordano.

I’ve liked Noah Hanifin more than the numbers do, but that he’s getting buried in zone starts probably attests to his lacking underlyings.

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Juuso Valimaki is off to a good start to his career, while Rasmus Andersson seems to be on the verge of breaking out, though he hasn’t quite yet.

Hamonic only has one game of data to draw on so far, but it stands to reason that the Flames’ defensive group should improve overall when he returns.

And finally, goalies (all situations):

Player TOI SV% ldSV% mdSV% hdSV% Game score
Smith 253.65 89.84 100.00 85.42 79.31 +0.058
Rittich 60.85 92.31 100.00 100.00 77.78 +0.850

Both goalies have performed well in low-danger chances, but mid-danger chances appear to be killing Smith, and neither has performed particularly well in high-danger chances (out of all goalies to play so far, Smith is tied for 36th in the league, while Rittich is tied for 42nd).

  • Off the wall

    Here’s a statistic. We have lost one game- then won our next two games.
    That translates into 54 wins over a season. Or 109 points.
    I’ll take that any day. Optimistic much?

  • Off the wall

    I’m going to put my own spin on this.

    Ever notice the Tim Horton’s commercials featuring Crosby and MacKinnon? Crosby driving a Zambonie – while he orders two double- double coffees and a DOUGHNUT! MacKinnon asks for two packs of hockey cards.

    Notice that they’ve shortened the commercial, now there’s no doughnut involved?

    Why? Are doughnuts a problem for some of our athletes?

    Let’s imagine for a moment, Neal is craving something sweet. Does he want a doughnut? I’m thinking he wants a JELLY, after seeing that commercial. Yum, jelly in the belly.

    Far fetched? Hardly, remember Strange Brew the classic Canadian movie? How do you bribe a lady who won’t let ya in to the Brewery? Jelly doughnuts!
    Say NO to doughnuts!


    • BendingCorners

      I love donuts. Theres a place on Granville Island called Lee’s that has a chocolate cake donut that is simply to die for.
      Of course, I don’t play in the NHL.

    • Heeeeere’s Johnny

      OTW I believe you are an Island lad no? If so venture up to Cumberland and visit their bakery on the Main Street. They make a simple glazed donut that is to die for. Have one of those. And if you want to try something else ask for the maple bacon (with chunks of bacon). Added bonus if you get there nice and early when they are still warm.

      • HOCKEY83

        Hannifan – 7 ganes 2 points. all assits
        Hamilton – 8 games 3 points. all assits
        Lindholm – 7 games 8 points. 5 goals
        Ferland – 8 games 8 points. 5 goals

        The flames are not missing out on anything regarding this trade. Our guys are younger and doing just as well as they are. Who cares how well Ferland is doing.

  • FlamesFanFromMI

    The question I have is this, is Mike Smith is as bad as his numbers look? Or the defense is bad? I have seen more than once that the opposition forward left alone in the slot wide open and then they score and everyone is blaming smith for “ lack of goal tending “. If we can tighten up our defense aka not playing Stone and get Hammer back then the issue of Neal not scoring won’t be an issue. Keep in mind that all the goals that are happening is because our D list coverage not the forwards, so saying Moni and Jonny is not doing their Job defensively is not an issue . Does Mike Smith goes down little early? Yes. Can he be better? Yes but D has to do their job and not leave the opposite team forward alone in front on net.
    My 2 cents you can have it for free

    • LannyMac

      You forgot something 70+% of this group are all about checking with there sticks. If they need to work hard or use physical play they disappear. If they start doing that I will show you a better team in their own zone. To many princesses. Unfortunately no matter what you do in life if you want to be successful it requires hard. To many skulls in that dressing room have no idea what I’m talking about.

      • Luter 1

        Not sure why all the -trash it’s- on this post. This team still is seriously short of sandpaper, especially on the back-end. No worries for teams in our zone of ever getting pasted, Gio’s Our toughest guy. Any thought of getting rid of Bennett is gone as he really is the only guy who has brought a resemblance of long gone Burke’s supposed truculence.

    • HOCKEY83

      Hilarious. You’re blaming Stone when it’s Valimaki and Andersson who are making the mistakes. Stone is a plus. When Hamonic gets back Valimaki or Andersson…one of those 2 will be sitting or sent down.

    • Luter 1

      He plays deep in his net and with smaller gear snipers in the NHL just need to see a bit of the net. Nashville whizzed a few by him he didn’t even move. Not a good sign of things to come. Problem is even if he’s good this year we’re not Stanley Cup material from what I see, so long term he isn’t the answer and again we continue to not develop our youngsters by playing him 65 games.

  • LannyMac

    Difference btwn Flames and contending teams like Nashville. They won last night and tonight putting in a strong effort again. Unlikely to see that from the Flames.

      • LannyMac

        I am so happy somebody asked that question. Their are some good things with this team but in order for an NHL team to win a cup so many things have to be in sync. It’s late if you want me to list them I can but not tonight. Not not that I’m a guru but this team is a far cry from what the franchise was in 1989. The main deficiency is their want, will, and effort. That has a little bit about the sign of the times. If this franchise ever puts together all the pieces required tangibles and intangibles you will read a different tune from me.

        • FlushedOut

          You are happy I ask the question yet I get trashed lol. I understand what you are saying about the team toughness but that 89 team will never happen again. Just like the Flyers in the 70’s and Islanders and Oilers in the 80’s. Those teams full of tough guys won’t happen in the cap era. Not to mention how many games did Peplinski and Hunter play in the playoffs in 89.

          • BlueMoonNigel

            Hunts played 19 and Pep 20 of the 22 games the Flames played in the 1989-89 Stanley Cup playoffs. So your point was that their toughness in the lineup let the more skilled players do their thing?

            It has been said by many smarter than me that Pep’s abrupt retirement early in the 1989-90 season was the single biggest reason the Flames did not repeat as cup champs. There is considerable merit to that as Pep would do anything to help his Flames win.

        • HOCKEY83

          The Flames couldn’t afford that team now with this cap. If you’re waiting to cheer for a Stanley cup winner you’ll be waiting a long long time. The realistic hope is that the flames make the playoffs for the next handful of years but of course the dream is a cup as it is for every team but very unrealistic even for the best teams in the league. The flames have gaudreau for 3 to 4 more seasons before he wants 10 mil per season which Calgary won’t be able to fit into the cap. So they’ll be trying to figure it all out again in a few short seasons. The west is such a strong conference that just making it to the playoffs will be a huge win for the flames. How far they go will be the exciting part but a Stanley cup with the teams the flames have to face….Chances are very slim. Tkachuk is at better than a point a game right now…if that continues this season how much is his agent going to be asking for? who will the Flames be getting rid of to fit him in. Bennett will be looking for a raise. Everyone is screaming for a top Goalie…well they are getting more and more expensive. The good ones are now 6 to 10 mil per. Everyone just needs to re-evaluate realistic expectations and consider just making the play-offs a win and a stanley cup the bonus. Who are tampa going to get rid of when Kuch’s 9.5 and Mcdonough’s 6.7 kicks in next season not to mention the players they need to resign. The big teams will be falling apart after this season and next and not all of them can win the Stanley cup. Imagine their disappointment when they have to start dismantling their teams and not have won a stanley cup. The Flames have some good young talent but it’s nothing compared to the great teams in this league who can’t win the stanley cup. Lose the cup dream and change it to the making the playoffs dream and you’ll be a much happier fan.

  • buts

    Was at the game last night and sat low on row 9…..Brodie was so soft on anybody with the puck, be it on the wall or in front of the net….everywhere. Great wheels but sorry it’s time to trade him. Jankowski looked lost. Stone haters need to know that he was our most physical D man and Smith is a 1B goalie….good but not great. Flames are small yet feisty, well coached, forecheck great. Backlund is a 3 Center. It’s time to move Lindholm to a 2c with Neil and Bennett and Tkachuk to the top line.

    • FlushedOut

      We don’t have the organizational depth to trade anymore D men away this season. Either Stone or Brodie probably gone in the off-season (possibly both for money for RFA resignings) with a rental veteran or 2 being signed on the cheap for depth. I think Anderson’s waiver exempt runs out next (not 100% sure) and Valimaki looks like he’s staying.

    • Luter 1

      Agree everything but Janks, he’s only lost because he is not being in the position to be successful. He has size, strength and a good shot. His legs seem a little slow this year, maybe packed on too much weight/muscle. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to want to get physical so might as well stay lighter/quicker.

  • freethe flames

    After 7 games the Flames remain a team in transition and a team that has not lived up to what many of hoped we would have. Many players have not lived up to the Hype including: Neal, Ryan, Czar, and Janko upfront. The better defensive coverage we expected is still not there, the better PP has not clicked yet and the questionable goaltending remains questionable. I have been told by the Neal supporters to be patient; so I’m going to be but if by the end of the next 7 game segment being over there has not been a step up I worry that our hopes and dreams for being more than a bubble team may be gone.

    • MWflames

      Neal, Ryan and janko have all seen their ice time dip, and to a lesser extent their quality of teammates go down as well. Czarnik is nice a depth peice which is why he got a depth peice contract.

      The Bennett, Ryan, Neal line looked promising last game. I’ve like Bennett’s game most of the season so far, and it’s starting to pay divedends for him.

      I would still like to see a few games with Neal and frolik switching spots, but the lines are starting settle down, and the depth scoring is starting to come around.

      I would say, 5 of the first 7 flames ganes we’re quite good to very good with the loss to Nash coming down to a coin flip imo. It’s okay to lose a close one to the leagues best team.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      What hype was surrounding Czarnik? Prior to coming here, the kid had played a grand total of 59 NHL games since turning pro in 2014! His 3 points in 6 games as a Flame is a noticeable improvement over his the point total he put up as a Bruin, so it can be said that he is exceeding expectations regarding scoring.

      As for any hype from the fact that a lot of clubs were apparently pursuing him when he was a FA, that’s nonsense because how many prudent decisions are made by NHL clubs during free agent frenzy? Troy Brouwer got 4 years and $18M contract from a tack-sharp GM who fearing a lack of leadership and character on his club and hearing the footfalls of other GMs approaching Troy. Just as love makes you stupid, free agent frenzy makes normally sane and sensible NHL GMs stupid, so decisions they make at this time, which can financially cripple a club, must be seen in context.

      • freethe flames

        The hype was all the teams that were bidding for him(someone in management even flew there to speak with personally) and that he was going to help the PP or don’t you remember this. Had he earned the hype? Not really but it was hyped.

        • BlueMoonNigel

          Yes, it was free agent frenzy hype which is the equivalent of nothing substantial. Look at the numskull FA signings in July and tell me that all or most of them were sound business investments. They were not. Czarnik’s tires being pumped last July was the typical hyperbole and overkill that defines free agent frenzy. Son, you have to learn to distinguish between fly sh–droppings–and pepper.

  • TKO

    this team is deeper than any other team I’ve seen since i started following the flames 18 years ago, and they will make noise when they tighten their defensive zone coverage.
    my prediction, since before the season started, is that this team is first in the pacific, second in the west. they have awesome depth up front, and if Bennett and Dube become what it looks like they can early on, they may well become the envy of the west

    • Demeo8

      Lol In order to keep their personnel focused on the task at hand, National Hockey League coaches break down the season into segments.

      And the in-house approach of Bill Peters,’ into his first campaign as the Calgary Flames head coach, is to split the season into five-game stretches.

      “Seven-games is too long for the coaches,” Peters said with a chuckle. “The players are good but the coaches don’t have the attention span.”

      It’s a way of containing the 82-game slate, and not letting the task at hand (playoffs) get too far out of reach or to lose sight during the dog days of the season. If this is a flames site the break downs should be every 5 games like what the FLAMES are doing lol