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Flames in seven games: a 2020-21 retrospective

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Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
The Calgary Flames’ season is over and done with, and now it’s time to poke at the aftermath a bit. We’ve been tracking the Flames season through seven game segments, and on the whole a few interesting trends emerged along the way.
Let’s dive in, pals!
Underlying numbers via Natural Stat Trick.

Segment by segment

(Percentage stats in this table are 5v5.)
GamesDatesResultCF%SC%HDSC%xGF%PPGFPPGA
1-7Jan. 14-303-3-152.452.345.050.6105
8-14Feb. 1-134-3-049.453.260.755.624
15-21Feb. 15-252-4-150.949.346.548.645
22-28Feb. 27-Mar. 134-2-153.154.057.055.854
29-35Mar. 15-262-5-051.546.343.845.935
36-42Mar. 27-Apr. 133-4-055.655.650.552.543
43-49Apr. 14-294-3-053.256.365.460.423
50-56May 1-194-3-058.860.564.061.525
AllAll26-27-353.053.453.953.83234
Early-on, the Flames were okay. They were .500 in their first segment and probably deserved to be. After a weird second segment – they had middling possession numbers but good “meaningful” possession numbers (meaning they had the puck a little but did good stuff with it) – they cratered entirely in the third segment.
The fourth segment featured both an improvement overall and the coaching change. In four full segments under Darryl Sutter, there was pretty consistent improvement across everything we tracked possession-wise. Their power play remained fairly blah, though, and was out-scored by the opposition power-play over the final four segments by a 16-11 margin.
All-told, the Flames won four segments, tied one, and lost three outright.

Forwards

Let’s take a look at the average game score of each forward, broken down by seven game segments. As noted, the coaching change was in Segment 22-28, and the final four segments were all under Sutter.
PlayerSeason1-78-1415-2122-2829-3536-4243-4950-56
Tkachuk0.9901.1770.9130.2991.3790.9410.1331.3371.733
Gaudreau0.9501.0841.1710.5931.084-0.1540.6041.7101.464
Lindholm0.9201.1160.9960.6040.9460.6910.5731.7340.713
Mangiapane0.8200.3961.5640.1900.9200.1440.9470.8071.607
Backlund0.7200.2691.190-0.0851.0540.1641.2900.4271.430
Ruzicka0.6600.660
Phillips0.6200.620
Monahan0.6200.8860.9700.4821.030-0.1600.4470.8040.143
Dube0.6000.8800.266-0.0940.9210.791-0.3900.6671.093
Ryan0.5300.1970.1401.8080.286-0.0590.9340.991
Lucic0.4400.2710.844-0.1830.1830.3670.4990.7490.756
Leivo0.390-0.0610.2680.0780.978-0.0600.8250.7001.720
Nordstrom0.270-0.5500.080-0.0690.6730.0700.4790.4670.847
Ritchie0.160-0.6650.714-0.663-0.0360.1910.624
Bennett0.160-0.2640.4230.1170.388-0.3530.827
Robinson0.120-0.173-0.0400.3500.310
Simon0.0600.156-0.300-0.2700.1500.310
Froese0.0300.203-0.325
Gawdin0.020-0.380-0.0600.855
Rinaldo-0.0700.050-0.5700.125
General trends? Well, some players performed very consistently. Elias Lindholm is arguably their most consistent performer, because he seemed to avoid the gigantic drops in performance that some of his other teammates had this season in segments. Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau were arguably better players with better performance peaks, but Lindholm performed at a pretty high level all year.
Based on this comparison, Andrew Mangiapane is going to get paid next summer. He was arguably Calgary’s best five-on-five player, narrowly beating out Gaudreau for the primary point scoring title, and he was basically a winger version of Lindholm (with marginally lower game score production).
Several players saw nice game score jumps after the transition to Sutter. Among them were Dillon Dube, Joakim Nordstrom, Josh Leivo, Milan Lucic and Sam Bennett. (Bennett’s strong close to the season under Sutter arguably contributed to the Flames getting a pretty good return for him at the trade deadline.) Monahan’s score dipped quite a bit under Sutter, but that also corresponds with what we’re told his injury timeline would’ve been.

Defensemen

Here are the blueliner game scores, similarly displayed segment by segment.
PlayerSeason1-78-145-2122-2829-3536-4243-4950-56
Tanev0.9600.8890.8840.4071.3500.561-0.0441.2032.384
Giordano0.680-0.2641.379-0.0590.479-0.2970.5801.2062.364
Hanifin0.6101.0490.593-0.0171.4210.3790.0040.888
Stone0.4600.1590.5030.719
Mackey0.440-1.7800.4251.183
Valimaki0.3600.1160.444-0.0230.5300.0910.7270.5760.773
Andersson0.2100.0410.926-0.1730.213-1.0370.0511.3390.269
Kylington0.190-0.3900.670-0.0550.550
Nesterov0.060-0.1230.305-1.2600.2580.2980.4350.700-0.302
Chris Tanev was superb all season and seemed to find another gear when (a) Noah Hanifin was injured and (b) he had broken ribs. Hanifin was also really good before he was injured.
The big surprises here are Michael Stone and Rasmus Andersson. Andersson played with Giordano and wasn’t great, and then with Hanifin and wasn’t great, and then with Nikita Nesterov and wasn’t great. Meanwhile, Stone was Mr. Reliable as a third pairing, right shot defender. The ceiling on Stone is pretty low – he’s destined to be a third pairing veteran until he retires, probably – but he stepped in and gave the Flames rock-solid minutes.

Goalies

Here are the goalies, presented segment-by-segment by their average Goals Saved Above Average.
PlayerSeason1-78-149-2122-2829-3536-4243-4950-56
Markstrom-0.4240.3820.030-2.227-0.233-0.763-0.764-0.117-0.645
Rittich-0.460-2.740-1.0600.155-0.8700.780-0.733
Zagidulin-1.060-1.060
Domingue-1.590-1.590
Goaltending was kind of all over the place this season, as Markstrom started very well and then petered out. How much of that was him working through things and how much of that was the team in general looking defensively incoherent before the coaching change, it’s hard to tell. Markstrom also missed some time with a concussion suffered mid-season, and it’s also difficult to tell how that impacted him in the second half of the season.
Needless to say, the Flames would probably just like to forget this season from a goaltending perspective.
What were the biggest surprises and disappointments from this past season? Sound off in the comments!

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