In their search for goals, the Calgary Flames need their power play to be better

Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
Stop us if you’ve heard this before. On Monday afternoon, the Calgary Flames lost a one-goal game – the 21st one-goal game they’ve lost this season. The Flames had four power play opportunities. They scored zero power play goals.
In a very real sense, their power outage decided the game.
“Second period, our power play didn’t give us much,” said head coach Darryl Sutter following the game. “Really, they scored right at the end of two power plays for us, right? So you’re caught with one D.”
The Flames had four power plays against Philadelphia. Their first period advantage was cut short after Andrew Mangiapane took a hooking penalty 59 seconds in. The Flames registered one shot on goal.
With Cam York in the box in the second period, the Flames registered one shot on goal – the Flyers had a near-miss three-on-two chance shorthanded earlier in the Flames’ advantage. At the end of the Flames PP, York stepped out of the box, accepted a pass from Scott Laughton, and set up Nicolas Deslauriers for a tip-in goal that made it 2-0 Flyers.
With Nick Seeler in the box later in the second period and the Flames trailing 2-1, the Flames registered one shot on goal. After the power play expired, the Flyers had a rush chance of their own miss the net, but they retrieved the puck and set up Tony DeAngelo for a point shot that beat Jacob Markstrom.
The Flames’ fourth advantage was split across the second and third periods – 52 seconds before the buzzer and 1:08 in the following period – and generated two shots on goal, both by rookie Jakob Pelletier.
Following the game, Flames alternate captain Mikael Backlund said the power play has to do more.
“If we’re not scoring, we at least have to create some energy and some momentum,” said Backlund. “It’s on us. All the power play guys, we got to step it up here. If we want to have a round, we have to be better.”
Through 57 games, the Flames’ power play is nothing to write home about. They score on 19% of their advantages, placing them 25th in the NHL in that category. Even adjusting for varying amounts of PP time per team, Natural Stat Trick has them 25th in Goals For Per 60 Minutes on the power play.
Are they generating a ton of chances, at least? Not really. They’re in the bottom half of the league – 18th overall – in Expected Goals Per 60, Scoring Chances Per 60 and High-Danger Chances Per 60.
The Flames are 16-4-7 in games where they score a power play goal, a .722 points percentage. They’re 10-16-4 – or .400 – when they don’t score on the power play.
Coming out of the All-Star Break, the Flames shuffled up their power play units:
  • Unit 1: Lindholm-Backlund-Toffoli-Dube-Andersson
  • Unit 2: Huberdeau-Kadri-Mangiapane-Pelletier-Hanifin
In theory, the idea was to (a) keep the top two forward lines intact and (b) give Pelletier offensive opportunities with good players. When compared to the old units, it also balanced firepower out a bit.
  • Old Unit 1: Lindholm-Toffoli-Huberdeau-Kadri-Andersson
  • Old Unit 2: Backlund-Ruzicka/Pelletier-Mangiapane-Dube-Hanifin
In seven games with the new units, the Flames have scored four goals and converted 18.2% of their power plays (good for 14th in the NHL). In the prior seven games with the old units, the Flames scored… four goals and converted 18.2% of their power plays (good for 17th in the NHL). Shuffling up the units didn’t make their power play any more successful than it had been.
With just 25 games left in the regular season, and the Flames sitting outside of the post-season picture, the Flames need to try whatever they can to get their special teams going. The games are likely going to remain close and with the margin for error functionally gone, they quite simply need goals from wherever they can find them.
Given the talented players involved on their power play, and the hefty cap hits they carry, the Flames flat-out need these units to produce if they want to be part of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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