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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

Flames in seven games: 4-3-0 in second segment

We’re at the first quarter mark of the 2020-21 season and the Calgary Flames have completed two seven game segments! After going .500 in the first seven, the Flames are slightly above .500 in their second segment.

But the Flames are swinging between two extremes: excellent, or frustratingly not.

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Underlying numbers via Natural Stat Trick.

Game by game

(Percentage stats in this table are 5v5.)

Date Opponent Result CF% SC% HDSC% xGF% PP PK
Feb. 1 Jets (@) 4-3 SOW 58.2 64.4 81.0 75.6 0-for-2 2-for-4
Feb. 2 Jets (@) 3-2 L 53.3 54.8 50.0 54.8 0-for-4 2-for-2
Feb. 4 Jets (@) 4-1 L 48.7 46.9 54.6 51.2 0-for-4 3-for-3
Feb. 6 Oilers (vs) 6-4 W 49.4 56.3 60.0 58.6 1-for-3 4-for-5
Feb. 9 Jets (vs) 3-2 W 60.8 70.6 92.3 73.9 1-for-2 1-for-2
Feb. 11 Canucks (@) 3-1 W 46.6 46.7 53.3 47.8 0-for-3 4-for-4
Feb. 13 Canucks (@) 3-1 L 32.7 37.3 40.9 38.2 0-for-3 1-for-1
This 7 4-3-0 49.5 53.4 60.7 55.8 2/21 17/21
Last 7 3-3-1 54.2 52.3 45.0 50.6 10/34 21/26

The Flames out-chanced their opponents in four of seven. They were decidedly better (by xGF) in two games, decidedly worse once, and the other four times they were okay – and often they varied considerably from period to period. In other words, very similar to the prior seven games.

Their power play was significantly worse, their penalty kill was about the same as last segment, and at five-on-five they were a little bit worse in possession terms but slightly better at generating good scoring chances.

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Team stats

Here’s how the Flames compare within the (Scotia NHL) North Division through 14 games:

  • Their goals for per game is 2.79, down from 2.86. They’re sixth in the division (ahead of only Ottawa).
  • Their goals against per game is 2.64, up from 2.43. They’re fourth in the division.
  • Their goal differential is +3, unchanged. They’re tied for fourth in the division.
  • Their power play is at 21.8%, down from 29.4%. They’re fourth in the division.
  • Their penalty kill is at 80.9%, up from 80.8%. They’re third in the division.
  • They’ve taken 7.9 penalty minutes per game, down from 9.3. They’re fifth in the division.
  • Their 5v5 xGF/60 is 2.36, up from 2.25. They’re third in the division.
  • Their 5v5 xGF/60 is 2.07, down from 2.19. They’re second in the division (behind only Montreal).
  • Their 5v5 xGF is 53.3%, up from 50.6% They’re second in the division.
  • Their 5v5 shooting percentage is 8.33%, up from 5.26%. They’re sixth in the division.
  • Their 5v5 save percentage is 94.12%, unchanged. They’re first in the division.
  • Their PDO is 1.025, up from 0.994. They’re second in the division.

The Flames’ shooting percentage normalized a bit this segment, but a lot of their metrics went in the wrong direction. Goals for went down. Goals against went up. The power play went down. And their PDO is among the top third of the league and eventually it’ll probably slide back towards the middle of the pack, so they need to improve at the fundamentals because at some point their luck will dry up.

Player stats

First, the forwards (all situations, ordered by ice time).

Game scores: Positive values indicate positive impact, negative values reflect negative impact.

Player TOI G P P/60 SH% xGF%
GF% OZS% Game score
Lindholm 147:24
(151:34)
2
(2)
6
(8)
2.4
(3.2)
10.5
(11.1)
45.9
(66.1)
58.3
(73.3)
45.5
(54.7)
0.999
(1.116)
Tkachuk 137:04
(139:06)
2
(3)
5
(5)
2.2
(2.2)
11.8
(10.7)
48.2
(77.1)
58.3
(85.7)
53.9
(64.4)
0.913
(1.177)
Gaudreau 132:52
(133:52)
3
(5)
6
(9)
2.7
(4.0)
27.3
(29.4)
56.7
(70.0)
57.1
(80.0)
69.7
(72.9)
1.170
(1.084)
Monahan 127:22
(131:40)
0
(2)
4
(7)
1.9
(3.2)
0.0
(10.5)
54.8
(68.6)
53.9
(80.0)
69.1
(70.9)
0.971
(0.886)
Mangiapane 115:07
(109:28)
4
(0)
6
(1)
3.1
(0.6)
44.4
(0.0)
59.7
(56.7)
70.0
(33.3)
37.7
(55.7)
1.556
(0.396)
Backlund 112:51
(114:07)
1
(2)
4
(4)
2.1
(2.1)
4.8
(15.4)
56.3
(49.6)
46.7
(35.7)
38.8
(40.3)
1.190
(0.269)
Dube 110:25
(43:43)
1
(1)
3
(1)
1.6
(2.7)
10.0
(14.3)
41.5
(60.7)
44.4
(100)
48.3
(46.9)
0.277
(0.880)
Lucic 90:45
(76:37)
1
(2)
3
(3)
2.0
(2.4)
12.5
(25.0)
68.7
(57.8)
66.7
(50.0)
56.3
(52.6)
0.920
(0.271)
Bennett 81:34
(94:22)
2
(0)
2
(1)
1.5
(0.6)
16.7
(0.0)
49.6
(47.8)
50.0
(33.3)
65.2
(34.9)
0.513
(-0.264)
Nordstrom 75:25
(51:31)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
24.6
(30.5)
20.0
(0.0)
23.9
(22.6)
0.080
(-0.550)
Leivo 67:25
(87:28)
0
(0)
1
(1)
0.9
(0.7)
0.0
(0.0)
56.4
(49.6)
33.3
(25.0)
37.8
(53.5)
0.362
(-0.061)
Froese 30:36
(0:00)
1
(-)
1
(-)
2.0
(-)
50.0
(-)
11.1
(-)
33.3
(-)
20.0
(-)
0.473
(-)
Ryan 22:37
(77:16)
0
(0)
0
(1)
0.0
(0.8)
0.0
(0.0)
41.4
(36.9)
33.3
(50.0)
30.0
(23.1)
0.140
(0.197)
Simon 10:03
(52:06)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
51.6
(54.0)
60.0
(60.0)
64.5
(63.0)
-0.300
(0.156)
Rinaldo 2:04
(0:00)
0
(-)
0
(-)
0.0
(-)
0.0
(-)
0.0
(-)
n/a
(-)
n/a
(-)
0.050
(-)

The five most common Flames forward lines were (in descending order):

  • Tkachuk – Lindholm – Dube
  • Gaudreau – Monahan – Bennett
  • Lucic – Backlund – Mangiapane
  • Gaudreau – Monahan – Mangiapane
  • Bennett – Backlund – Leivo

The Flames are a bit Jekyl and Hyde, and that’s reflected a bit in their game scores and much of their underlying metrics.

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On one hand, the Flames have seven forwards with pretty good scores. On the other hand, those seven players themselves have been feast or famine during the past seven games and each of them have struggled for stretches recently. (Of the “good” seven, only Mangiapane got through the segment without a single game with a negative game score.) Mangiapane and Lucic took steps forward, while Dube fell off quite a bit. Mangiapane led the team in goals this segment and was in a three-way tie with Gaudreau and Lindholm for points.

The team’s depth remains iffy and, like the rest of the club, lacks consistency. (Yes, Bennett scored twice, but look at how much the team ramped up his offensive zone starts. It’s too early to really conclude he’s doing better overall.) The fourth line remains a bit of a black hole in terms of puck possession and overall play.

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

Player TOI G P P/60 SH% xGF%
GF% OZFO% Game score
Andersson 148:22
(145:03)
0
(2)
2
(5)
0.8
(2.1)
0.0
(14.3)
55.7
(57.7)
50.0
(71.4)
55.4
(60.9)
1.024
(0.041)
Tanev 146:37
(143:31)
1
(0)
2
(1)
0.8
(0.4)
14.3
(0.0)
49.9
(53.9)
42.9
(57.1)
35.6
(37.1)
0.887
(0.889)
Giordano 145:46
(151:30)
1
(1)
4
(3)
1.7
(1.2)
10.0
(5.9)
49.4
(44.3)
58.3
(50.0)
41.5
(44.8)
1.380
(-0.264)
Hanifin 141:40
(129:49)
0
(0)
1
(2)
0.4
(0.9)
0.0
(0.0)
50.7
(64.0)
54.6
(100)
42.2
(41.2)
0.687
(1.049)
Valimaki 115:00
(113:34)
0
(0)
4
(1)
2.1
(0.5)
0.0
(0.0)
39.7
(49.6)
46.2
(20.0)
54.2
(47.8)
0.450
(0.116)
Nesterov 97:04
(108:45)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
43.8
(46.6)
33.3
(20.0)
48.8
(51.2)
0.305
(-0.123)
Mackey 13:55
(0:00)
0
(-)
0
(-)
0.0
(-)
0.0
(-)
16.9
(-)
0.0
(-)
60.0
(-)
-1.780
(-)

The three most common defensive pairings were (in descending order):

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  • Hanifin & Tanev
  • Giordano & Andersson
  • Valimaki & Nesterov

The defensive groups have been fine, albeit inconsistent. Giordano and Andersson had a bit of a bounce-back, but their two-way game has been iffy. Hanifin and Tanev remain quite good, though each had a couple rougher games this segment and lacked the consistency they had in the opening segment. The third pairing was a little bit more consistent as a two-way pairing, but still have defensive gaffes and remain a work in progress.

I’m not sure what to make of Valimaki having as many points as Giordano over the past seven games.

And finally, goalies (all situations):

Player TOI SV% ldSV% mdSV% hdSV% Game score
Markstrom 362:30
(357:07)
.927
(.929)
.964
(.959)
.962
(.891)
.800
(.917)
0.030
(0.382)
Rittich 58:01
(60:00)
.893
(.810)
1.000
(.900)
.800
(1.000)
.714
(.400)
-1.060
(-2.740)

Markstrom is excellent and has held the team in just about every game he’s played. Rittich barely played, but was better than he was in his earlier start against Montreal.

Goaltending is not the issue for the Flames thus far. The lack of consistency among the forwards is quite troubling, as it has occasionally left the third pairing to attempt to prop up an under-performing trio on the ice with them.