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Flames in seven games: 4-2-1 in season’s second segment

Good news: in their first seven-game segment, the Flames were 4-3-0. This time around, they’ve improved by one whole point, to 4-2-1. Featuring one of their worst losses in years (decades?), they still came away with a great record: and looked good most of the time, too.

All underlying numbers via Corsica.

Team stats

Now up to an 8-5-1 record, the Flames are starting to look like they mean business. They have a .607 winning percentage through the season so far, up from their previous .571. It has them 12th in the NHL, sixth in the Western Conference, and second in the Pacific Division.

  • Their goals for per game is 3.36, down from their earlier 3.71. They’re ninth overall in the NHL, fourth among Western Conference teams, and first in the Pacific Division.
  • Their goals against per game is 3.29, exactly the same as it was after their first seven games. It’s 21st in the NHL, 12th among Western Conference teams, and second last in the Pacific Divison.
  • Their goal differential is zero, down from +3. It has them tied for 16th in the NHL. They’re tied for eighth among Western Conference teams, and fourth in the Pacific Division.
  • Their powerplay is at 15.8%, down from their earlier 19.4%. It’s 21st in the NHL. They’re 10th in the Western Conference, and fifth in the Pacific Division.
  • Their penalty kill is at 71.7%, down from their earlier 81.5%. It’s 27th in the NHL. They’re last in the Western Conference and Pacific Division.
  • At 8:42 penalty minutes per game, they’ve reduced the number of infractions they taken, down from 9:00 earlier. The Flames are 20th in most penalties in the NHL. They’ve taken the eighth most penalties per game in the Western Conference, and fourth most among Pacific Division teams.
  • Their 5v5 CF/60 is 62.88, just down from 64.86. It’s the sixth highest in the NHL, fifth among Western Conference teams, and fourth in the Pacific Division.
  • Their 5v5 CA/60 is 54.06, up a little from their previous 51.51. It’s the ninth lowest in the NHL, fourth lowest among Western Conference teams, and third lowest in the Pacific Division.
  • Their 5v5 CF is 53.77%, a little bit down from their earlier 55.74%. It’s fifth highest in the NHL, and third among Western Conference and Pacific Division teams.
  • Their 5v5 shooting percentage is 8.68%, down from 9.09%. It’s 14th in the NHL.
  • Their 5v5 save percentage is 91.45%, up from 90.26%. It’s 19th in the NHL.
  • Their PDO is 100.13, up from 99.35. It’s 16th in the NHL.

So, what’s changed?

The Flames are still scoring a lot of goals, but still allowing a lot, as well. Their special teams have declined, and are among the worst in the NHL. They’ve taken slightly fewer penalties, which helps offset that, but there are clear areas for improvement.

The Flames are still one of the top teams in the NHL when it comes to generating corsi events, and in terms of differential. They’ve gotten a bit more positive fortune over these past seven games as well: though their shooting percentage has dropped, they’re still scoring plenty; and their save percentage has improved some, David Rittich starting three of the seven games probably playing a role in that.

Player stats

First, 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
Lindholm 288.72 9 14 2.49 24.32 56.38 52.38 55.42 +1.055
Gaudreau 288.72 6 17 3.12 13.95 60.56 60.00 68.10 +1.191
Monahan 281.03 6 16 2.56 17.14 60.04 60.98 69.77 +1.059
Backlund 256.98 2 8 1.63 6.90 58.06 53.85 49.48 +0.834
Tkachuk 251.98 5 17 4.05 16.13 65.41 67.65 69.07 +1.177
Neal 220.82 2 3 0.82 6.06 58.29 42.11 60.00 +0.390
Bennett 176.33 2 3 1.02 9.52 51.87 43.75 52.81 +0.353
Ryan 170.00 1 3 0.71 12.50 51.04 41.67 47.71 +0.249
Frolik 157.90 6 6 2.28 28.57 48.94 50.00 54.17 +0.547
Dube 143.90 0 2 0.83 0 50.95 50.00 53.33 +0.272
Jankowski 107.22 0 1 0.56 0 48.11 22.22 46.51 +0.213
Czarnik 105.18 1 3 1.71 6.67 62.09 37.50 62.12 +0.693
Hathaway 93.97 2 2 1.28 25.00 45.68 60.00 51.35 +0.180
Peulso 9.65 0 0 0 0 60.00 n/a 50.00 +0.188

Now with 14 games’ worth of data, slightly clearer pictures are forming. There’s been some shuffling amongst the bottom forwards, but the top five guys have remained relatively consistent, and have been performing a cut above the rest. There’s some debate as to who the sixth forward actually is – most recently it’s been Michael Frolik, but Austin Czarnik’s numbers imply that, at the very least, he probably shouldn’t be a healthy scratch so often.

Elias Lindholm has jumped up to get roughly the same amount of ice time as Johnny Gaudreau, while Sam Bennett has leapfrogged Derek Ryan (deservedly so, based on their numbers), and Czarnik’s frequent healthy scratches have seen Frolik, Dillon Dube, and Mark Jankowski jump over him (perhaps undeservedly, though that all six of Frolik’s points are goals – he’s tied for second in team goal-scoring – is a little nuts and probably unsustainable).

Speaking of unsustainable, Lindholm’s shooting percentage is still rather high as well, but the rest are falling into relatively stable numbers.

Tkachuk might even remain somewhat underplayed.

Mikael Backlund, Ryan, and Jankowski are the only forwards with consistent sub-.500 offensive zone start ratios: all centres. Backlund is easily the best of the three, though Ryan is managing as well (except on the offensive end of things). Frolik, Jankowski and Garnet Hathaway are the only Flames forwards with corsi percentages under 50 through 14 games, while some of James Neal and Bennett’s bad luck shows in their sub-50% goals for ratings.

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

Gaudreau Monahan Lindholm
Tkachuk Backlund Frolik
Tkachuk Backlund Czarnik

This is unchanged from the first seven games, though the Bennett – Jankowski – Neal line is closing in.

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

Player TOI Goals Points P/60 SH% CF% GF% ZSR Game score
Giordano 350.05 2 15 2.40 4.35 58.39 64.44 53.45 +1.329
Brodie 301.67 0 4 0.99 0 51.72 51.61 51.39 +0.555
Hanifin 284.25 0 3 0.63 0 52.79 45.83 46.15 +0.413
Valimaki 192.97 1 2 0.62 8.33 48.15 27.78 66.35 +0.219
Andersson 189.35 0 1 0.32 0 47.51 55.56 57.66 +0.244
Stone 161.18 0 4 1.49 0 47.25 35.00 49.51 +0.355
Hamonic 112.73 1 1 0.53 10.00 53.42 33.33 39.39 +0.708
Prout 13.75 0 0 0 0 60.00 33.33 50.00 +0.225

With Travis Hamonic back in the lineup and neither Juuso Valimaki nor Rasmus Andersson worthy of being scratched or demoted, Michael Stone has found himself relegated to the sidelines. Hamonic has helped improve the Flames’ defence, while Valimaki and Andersson are experiencing growing pains – but they’re starting to come along (Andersson in particular, while Valimaki’s overall numbers have dropped off some).

Mark Giordano is still clearly far and away the best of the group, though, while Noah Hanifin has seen some improvement.

But for real… the defence is pretty much all Giordano. It’s difficult to see that changing, but it will be interesting to see how the group comes along over the third set of seven games, now that they’re at their ideal six – and that the rookies are getting more and more experience and starting to get chances to show off.

And finally, goalies (all situations):

Player TOI SV% ldSV% mdSV% hdSV% Game score
Smith 549.95 87.12 95.05 86.67 76.71 -0.250
Rittich 288.73 93.87 98.28 92.19 90.24 +1.300

Rittich has been getting more ice time, and his numbers have held steady (or, in the case of high danger saves, shot up by quite a bit), while Mike Smith continues to flounder, suffering mild decreases at best and no improvements in his numbers. He’s also the only Flame with a negative game score through 14 games; in contrast, Rittich appears increasingly valuable – though he’s still an unknown, as we don’t know how well he’d fare with an increased workload.

But it probably wouldn’t hurt to find out.

  • thumz

    What would be the most realistic moves possible if Flames wanted to move in from Smith right now?
    We’d probably be paying premium prices as the other GM’s would smell blood in the water… Mike Smith’s blood!

      • Avalain

        It is sad. But, if we take away The Game That Never Happened, we would only be at 37 goals against. That would tie us with Florida for 15th place. Being middle-of-the-pack in goals against while being at the top in goals for is really not a bad place to be. Even if we write that game down as a 2-1 loss, we would still be tied for 16th place.

        That’s why data points like that tend to be thown out as outliers.

        • MWflames

          completely right. We can ignore that it never happened as fans and the team shouldn’t either… but statistically its the opposite. Any meaningful analysis would ignore that game as an outlier. Our goal differentials numbers are very skewed as a result right now. consider this 20% of our season to date GA came in one game of 14 total. We can tighten things up for sure, but right now we’re scoring more on a regular basis than not by a reasonable margin.

        • Flames fan since 83

          I see what your saying. But another way to look at it is that the 9-1 loss to Penguins was the wake up call for the team to alter their play and play better.
          So what if we didn’t have that game and continued to play the same as before, which was not really that good.

    • Cfan in Van

      Agreed that there’s work to be done, but the last 4 games, the D has tightened right up. 7-8 high danger scoring chances allowed per game is pretty much all you can ask for from them… We just need Smith to start making some saves.

  • flames2015

    As per NHL.com , Flames are currently first in the pacific and 3rd in the western conference! Nice way to start off November. Something we have not seen in years.

  • canadian1967

    Got myself a new Avatar.
    The players voted to give the Hat to Benny.
    But no…. some of you know-it-all’s have been saying for years that there’s nothing that shows that anything to do with toughness etc. has anything to do with winning games.

  • Off the wall

    Not going to nit pick at anyone.
    But doesn’t Czarnik’s numbers indicate he’s due to play soon?

    Why are we sitting him so much? His GF/60 is slightly better than Backlund, and his shooting percentage is low- about the same as Backlund, under 7%.

    I really don’t understand it. What am I missing here?

  • Alberta Ice

    Great to see our Western Canadian teams- Calgary, Vancouver, and Edmonton- heading up the Pacific Division at this point in time. All 3 fan bases have high hopes to be in that playoff run beginning in April. Really, it’s the Canucks who have been the biggest surprise of these 3 to me. Give them full marks for excellent coaching (Travis Green), gritty play each and every game despite injuries, and a future Calder award winning rookie. Not sure they can sustain this, but full marks thus far. Along with this, great to see the California teams finally looking up in the standings. And, yes, goal tending is going to be a key for all three teams. GFG.

    • Oil Spilly

      Well said Alberta Ice.
      EDM and CAL starting goalie stats

      Talbot currently sits 34th in GAA
      Smith currently sits 56th in GAA

      Talbot currently sits 36th in SV %
      Smith currently sits 60th in SV %

      Me thinks EDM and CAL should just let Koskinen and Rittich play out the rest of the season because there is no way both starting goalies should be in the bottom half of the league. Who knows I could see Talbot and Smith both turning it around but they have a lot of work to do.

      • Alberta Ice

        Thanks Oil Spilly for the stats on the starting goalies. Both starting goalies really need to get their game on soon. Truly thrilled with the goal tending of Rittich thus far. (I remember his first preseason non-China game this year of allowing 6 goals and his total anger over that. Talk about turning your failure to motivate for success!) Really hoping Smithie can turn it around soon too. I hope they start Rittich against the Blackhawks tomorrow and let him play until he loses. Would that motivate Mike or what!)

    • Off the wall

      I agree Alberta Ice.

      It’s like someone shook last years standings upside down.
      Being on the coast, I’ve seen my share of Canucks games this season. They play fast, well coached and Markstrom has been consistent. He was also a victim of Pittsburgh’s offence.

      That Pettersen kid is fun to watch.

      LA has bottomed out. Anaheim is nothing without Gibson repeatedly standing on his head every night. I’m happy the California teams are behind us, though SAN Jose isn’t a team that will stay below us for long.

      Edmonton has been beating some quality teams. Predators twice? Wow!

      Maybe the battle of Alberta will mean something this season. Wouldn’t that be nice?

      It’s great to see hockey isn’t what we expected this year.
      If Anaheim falls faster than a brick launched from a tower, it won’t hurt my feelings at all.

        • Vernon30

          I’d like to see Anaheim spiral into the worst team in recent memory, stay that way for 9 years, each year missing the number 1 overall pick, and having all 9 picks they make turn into busts, then due to lack of revenue and interest have the team move to Quebec, where they turn into a decent, respectable franchise.

      • Alberta Ice

        I envy you Off the Wall. That Pettersen kid looks like he’s going to be fun to watch for a long time. And, yes, wouldn’t a Battle of Alberta really be nice for say the next 8 years. I lived and died with the Flames in the 80’s and took a lot of abuse from my fellow Oiler fans – and still smile a mile when I watch Steve Smith put the puck in his own net off Fuhr to win game 7 against the goal scoring machine the Oilers had in those days. (On another note- I also totally rejoiced when the Oilers of Alberta knocked off the Islander Dynasty in 1984 and won their first Stanley Cup. I stomached that about one more year and then got finally fed up with their dynasty.) Another game of utter bliss was when Peplinski’s shot bounced off Otto’s skate into the game 7 win against Vancouver in 1989. What a thrill to be the only team ever to win a Stanley Cup in a game at the Canadiens own barn. No wonder Lanny was grinning ear to ear!)

          • Alberta Ice

            LOL. Yep, the good old days. Meanwhile, last night, the Canucks and Elias ‘the next Gretzky’ Peterrson, ruined the Avalanche’s evening for the 2nd night in a row. Yep, our fan bases in Calgary, Vancouver, and Edmonton, are having reasons to get excited

      • Vernon30

        Can reminds me of 14-15 Flames team. They’ve got 2 or 3 good young guys, will probably over achieve, and in doing so, may set their rebuild back. It’s a sad reality, but if I’m a ‘nucks fan (which I am not) I’m hoping they loose every game 7-6 in OT. That way, they have a good shot at Hughes.

  • MWflames

    Article idea for quarter or mid season: Game score comparison of each player versus their previous 3 years. Would be an interesting to see how players are performing this year compared to their previous performances. Not hard to see that our top forwards are far better than they’ve been in years past.

  • MWflames

    look to see valimaki and andersson’s GS increase as the season goes on, they’ll just continue to get better all year long.

    Hanifin and hamonic are a perfectly acceptable second pairing. way more stable than the brodie hamonic pairing from last year.

  • Sven

    Sorry for the repetition but:

    Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA) – This is a cumulative stat that represents the number of goals allowed by a goaltender compared to the number of goals that would have been allowed by a league average goalie.

    A positive score notes how many fewer goals a team has given up with the goaltender in question in net

    Given that David Rittich comes in 9th place in the NHL with a score of 5.81 suggesting that his presence on the ice during the 288 minutes he has played this season has resulted in the Flames giving up almost 6 fewer goals than would be expected should a league “average” goalie been tending the Calgary net during those games

    And given that the absolute worst score in the entire NHL is Mike Smith at -8.39

    Replacing Smith with an average goalie would have saved the Flames 8.3 goals this season to date

    Replacing Smith with an above average goalie (as Rittichs numbers suggest that he is), would likely have saved even more

    Remove Smiths 8 “weak goals” given up this season
    and replace him with an above average goalie like Rittich

    and Calgarys goal differential likely goes from +1 where it sits currently
    to +10-12 or so – up there with Nashville , Tampa and Colorado

    • Leichs

      “Remove Smiths 8 “weak goals” given up this season
      and replace him with an above average goalie like Rittich”

      Wow you are really reaching with this stuff. You cant just remove things to make your stats and team seem better. Remove 8 weak goals against Cam Talbot this year and the Oilers are first in the entire western conference lol. Ohhh yeah lets just remove that Pitty game because it was a bad game and it kills all our stats.

    • Leichs

      Your team plus minus is sitting at a pretty 0. Stop with the could be sitting at +10-12 or so – up there with Nashville , Tampa and Colorado lool. 0 is a loooong way off from +10-12.

  • The GRAND BALLSUCKER

    Just about turned off the game last night at the beginning of the 3rd. Glad I did not. I really hope Smith returns to being Mike Smith. I was a big fan when they picked him up but something has got to give. If he returns to the Smith that stole games last year again…..look out. Please Mike come back!!!

  • Sven

    One last beat on the Rittich drum

    Realizing that there are different probabilities in saving a breakaway or tip from the slot as compared to a dump in on net from center ice another metric looks at the goaltenders ability to come up with a save in high probability scoring opportunities

    High Danger Save Percentage (HDSv%) –
    Save percentage on shot with a Fenwick shooting percentage equal to or greater than 9%.

    By this metric Riccichs score of 90% is second best league wide – trailing only Robin Lehner who sits at 94%

  • AF

    Well, that segment was a bit of a rollercoaster ride. I like how we’re trending lately and how the team has bounced back after that disastrous Eastern road trip. I’d like go back to Rittich for the next couple games and see what happens. Putting Czarnik back in would be a positive too.

  • FLT

    4 out of 14 games were complete disasters, a #1 goalie with worst in the league stats, and still on pace for over 99 points. They’re in a good place despite a lot of adversity. I’ll take it.

  • 左翼二

    Based on those game score numbers, and the idea of spreading things out a bit:
    Johnny – Lindy – Neal
    Byng – Monny – Benny
    Czar – Backs – Fro
    Dube – Ryan – Janko – Hath (mix n match)

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I find it interesting when you see emotion from typically unemotional players. Case in point Janko after the controversial hit by Cole. At first he stayed down on the ice and then jumped to his feet to join the scrum only to see zsam, his little but much feistier brother taking care of business. I am not sure what Janko would have done against someone like Cole.

    Pretty ballsy move on Cole’s part to poke the bear when you have been outplayed and by the mercy if Smith lead the game 4-1. The old Flames would have lost on the scoreboard and in the ally but not anymore.

    It is hard to figure out the source of Janko’s anger as he hits the glass leaving the ice. He is likely mad at Cole for steamrolling him, he could be mad at Hanafin for the suicide pass, or could he be mad at himself for putting himself in a position to get hurt like that. I am sure all those factors came to head culminating in his overall frustration in his second NHL season. The biggest losers of the night were Janko and Bennett for not being available or chosen to play in the third period despite good showings. I think BP should have given Janko a shift in the third to see what kind of response he would get. I get that we were chasing the game but give him the shift after we make it 6-4.

  • The Doctor

    Not only do we have 5 guys at a point per game or better, we have 5 guys in the top 30 in NHL scoring? How long has it been since we’ve been able to say that? I love it

  • The Doctor

    Btw one really irritating trend this season: visiting teams from other divisions and conferences play their B goalie against our divisional opponents after playing their A goalie against us. Case in point: Colorado playing Grubauer against Vancouver tonight.

    • Kevin R

      Power play wasnt that bad the other night, in fact they got zone entry pretty good. Problem is when they control the puck on the side boards to set up, how many times do they make a horrible decision to try & make a cross ice pass through 2-3defenders & suddenly its back down the ice. They need to design a play to set up once they do get zone entry.

  • Getpucksdeep

    Considering last nights performance by the Petterson kid and the Canucks standings it safe to say that yes we did underestimate the Canucks in the opener. Everyone else has too, including their own fans, but if you take that into account then the Flames are doing better than the first 7 game segment suggested. Throw in the Habs playing way above what was expected and early season surprises abound this year!

  • Chucky

    It is very difficult to be disappointed with the performance since the Pittsburgh debacle, but there are some real positives, some real negatives and some justifiable concerns.
    Things that make me happy are the play of Valimaki and Anderson and their obvious improvement . Those guys really have the look of a top pairing a few years in the future. The amazing fact that Giordano does not seem to have lost a step, when paired with Hamilton he went into a point scoring slump reunited with Brodie he is back at the top of the league. Lindholm is always looking for the opportunity to shoot, his scoring % will go down and he will probably find that there is a little more attention for a guy scoring like he is but his willingness to pull the trigger will result in more space and subsequent goals for Mony and Jonny. Bennett has found his game, he may never reach the scoring levels of some of the guys in his draft year but he certainly is a difference maker.
    It is hard to see how the team can regard the production of Neal as anything other than a major disappointment. The overall performance of Ryan has been well below what was anticipated and he is certainly not the faceoff wizard that they thought they were getting. Hanifin has been less consistent than expected, in a way it is not surprising that a 21 year old defenseman makes mistakes but expectations were high. Smith has not lived up to his early season performance from last year. The power play has not shown a noticeable improvement.

    All that said the team is well ahead of last year with mediocre at best goaltending and that is the major cause for concern. It would seem that they can get to the playoffs with this quality of goaltending based on current standings but it is hard to see a deep playoff run without significant improvement. It does not appear that stability is coming from Stockton this year. So how do they get to that level of consistency and confidence? Hopefully it is not through trading because Treliving’s track record on bringing in goalies is not that good. If a fan was looking for something to worry about there are all types of scenarios to invent when stewing about this issue.

    I suppose we should just be glad that at this point we can spend a happy morning before putting on the game face for tonight.

  • moore_tweets

    I’m just curious, but it’s often said that your goalie is your best penalty killer. That being said, what is our PK at when Rittich is in net vs when Smith is in net? In other words, who’s the better penalty killer?