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.)
All underlying numbers via Corsica.
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.
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.
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.
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).
The Flames’ most common line combinations at 5v5 have been:
And the defence (all situations, ordered by ice time):
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.
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):
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).