The Flames have had success throughout seven-game segments this season, except for two instances in which they were only able to maintain a 0.500 pace – this being the second time. It’s also been, so far, their weakest stretch of the year.
In their first seven-game segment, they were 4-3-0. In their second, they improved to 4-2-1. In their third, they were once again 4-3-0. In their fourth, they improved to 5-1-1. In their fifth, they kept it up with a 5-2-0. In the sixth, they fell to 3-2-2. In the seventh, they shot up to 6-0-1. It’s been a bit downhill since then. Will it last?
Underlying numbers via Natural Stat Trick.
Now at 34-16-6, the Flames are still near the top of the NHL, but other teams are catching up to them. They have a 0.661 points percentage through the season so far, down from their previous 0.684. It has them second in the NHL, and first in the Western Conference and Pacific Division.
- Their goals for per game is 3.66, down a little from their earlier 3.71. They’re third overall in the NHL, and second among all Western Conference teams and the Pacific Division.
- Their goals against per game is 2.93, up from their previous 2.84. They’re tied for 13th in the NHL, tied for seventh among Western Conference teams, and third in the Pacific Divison.
- Their goal differential is +38, down from +41. It has them third in the NHL, and first among Western Conference teams and the Pacific Division.
- Their powerplay is at 22.9%, down from their earlier 23.9%. It’s eighth in the NHL. They’re fourth in the Western Conference, and second in the Pacific Division.
- Their penalty kill is at 79.1%, up slightly from their earlier 78.6%. It’s 21st in the NHL. They’re 10th in the Western Conference, and sixth in the Pacific Division.
- At 9:07 penalty minutes per game, they’ve taken slightly more infractions, up from 9:01 earlier. They’re 22nd when it comes to penalties taken in the NHL, 11th in the Western Conference, and sixth in the Pacific Division.
- Their 5v5 CF/60 is 58.68, up a little from their previous 58.51. It’s the eighth highest in the NHL, fourth among Western Conference teams, and third in the Pacific Divison.
- Their 5v5 CA/60 is 53.31, up from their previous 52.29. It’s the fifth lowest in the NHL, and third lowest among Western Conference and Pacific Division teams.
- Their 5v5 CF is 52.40%, down a little from their previous 52.81%. It’s the seventh highest in the NHL, fourth among Western Conference teams, and third in the Pacific Division.
- Their 5v5 shooting percentage is 8.71%, up a little from 8.66%. It’s ninth in the NHL.
- Their 5v5 save percentage is 91.73%, down a little from 91.79%. It’s 14th in the NHL.
- Their PDO is still 100.04. It’s tied for ninth in the NHL.
So, what’s changed?
The main thing is that they’re giving up more goals. While most every other change they’ve experienced has been a relatively minor fluctuation, that they’re surrendering more goals against is their biggest problem. They started the segment off well, only giving up two goals a game prior to the All-Star break; once that passed, they’ve given up an average of four goals in their five games so far in February.
The team’s scoring dried up some over this latest segment – they had one five-goal game, and since then it’s been mostly just three goals for – but their offence is still near the top of the NHL, whereas their ability to prevent goals has fallen off. This is somewhat in line with their corsi splits, as well – they’re still generating a fair number of corsi events for, but events against have gone up.
There still aren’t any major red flags in team-wide stats, however. They could stand to take fewer penalties overall, but none of their percentages really indicate they’re due to fall off a cliff any time soon. The Flames are still playing well overall – this just hasn’t been the best stretch for them.
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.
Some separation is occurring. While Johnny Gaudreau has calmed down some from his earlier offensive explosion, he’s still easily the best forward on the team, and Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm are no longer quite as far behind him as they previously were. Matthew Tkachuk, on the other hand, has only registered one assist over the past seven games; while he’s still a good player, his star has dimmed over this time frame, just as his shooting percentage has suffered the most out of the top four’s (with Gaudreau’s fall being the second most dramatic, and Monahan’s barely anything at all).
Mikael Backlund remains the team’s fifth best forward, while Michael Frolik appears to still have a lock down on sixth. Sam Bennett is hanging in there for seventh, and while Mark Jankowski is playing consistently as well, a couple more players appear to be creeping up to his level. James Neal, for example, while he still hasn’t been scoring goals – and still has a bizarrely low shooting percentage – has been putting up a few more assists, and his numbers are up across the board. Derek Ryan’s performance continues to go up, as well.
The most dramatic positive change among Flames forwards, however, is without a doubt Andrew Mangiapane’s rise. Scoring his first NHL goal has likely done wonders for him, but he’s just plain been a better player over this stretch; at the very least, he’s looking like a reason to preach patience with young players.
Garnet Hathaway is the only other Flames forward to have played during these seven games; the Flames have dressed the same 12 forwards each time.
The Flames’ most common line combinations at 5v5 have been:
The Flames have largely had the same line group as of late. If there’s anything to be gleaned from this, it’s that Frolik is the Flames’ second line right winger – or at the very least, he has been for most of the season, and certainly over these past seven games.
Now, the defence (all situations, ordered by ice time):
While Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie don’t seem to be having too much in the way of problems, Travis Hamonic and Noah Hanifin haven’t had the greatest seven-game stretch, as evidenced by their declining game scores.
Someone who really seems to have grown over these past seven games, though, is Oliver Kylington. He’s overtaken Juuso Valimaki in season ice time, and he seems to be making the most of it. He’s added three points in this time frame, his scoring rates have gone up (as has his shooting percentage, dramatically so), and his offensive zone starts have gone down some. While Rasmus Andersson has been steadily staying in place, Kylington’s had much more dramatic fluctuations – most of them positive – that have brought him closer to Andersson’s level.
In contrast, Dalton Prout’s numbers dropped in the two games he dressed for.
And finally, goalies (all situations):
David Rittich is no longer infallible, it would seem. His numbers dropped over this seven-game stretch, in particular his medium-danger save percentage – his low-danger actually increased slightly, while his high-danger saves dropped just a modest amount. When once he’d easily have the sixth highest game score compared to his teammates – albeit with Backlund close to him – he’s now dropped to just above eighth.
Mike Smith, meanwhile, only dressed for two games in this seven-game stretch. His numbers didn’t really change at all, so at least the consistency there is nice.