Ping! The Flames’ habit of hitting iron might actually be a good trend

Photo credit:© Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
If you’ve watched a Calgary Flames game, whether in-person, on the radio or on television, odds are you’ve heard the telltale noise: the distinctive “ping” of frozen rubber banging off a post or crossbar.
The Flames have hit a lot of iron so far in 2022-23. But it’s probably not a bad thing.
Through the first 38 games of the season, the Flames have hit 40 posts or crossbars (according to the NHL). Here’s the rundown:
  • Tyler Toffoli – 8
  • Andrew Mangiapane – 5
  • Elias Lindholm – 4
  • Dillon Dube, Chris Tanev, Nazem Kadri, Mikael Backlund and Adam Ruzicka – 3
  • Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson – 2
  • Nikita Zadorov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Milan Lucic and Connor Mackey – 1
Toffoli entered 2023 tied for third in the NHL for posts and crossbars hit; he was behind only Alex Ovechkin (10), Vincent Trocheck (10) and Connor McDavid (9). He began the year tied with Elias Pettersson, William Nylander and Kyle Connor. In short: fairly talented, offensive-minded players.
Team-wise, the Flames’ 40 posts was fourth in the NHL, behind only the NY Rangers (44), Washington (42) and Florida (41).
Now, posts and crossbars are sub-types of missed shots, and missed shots are generally pretty correlated with puck possession and shot volume in general. Teams (and players) with lots of missed shots tend to (a) have the puck a lot and (b) attempt to shoot the puck a lot.
Ideally, the best shot attempt is one that goes in the net and beats the goalie. The worst shot attempt is one that misses the net entirely or is blocked by a defender. A shot that hits iron evades the defenders and the goalie, and at least hits something.
If a player or team hits a lot of posts or crossbars but don’t generate much else offensively, that’s a problem. If a team is generating a ton of shots and chances and is hitting a lot of iron as part of a general barrage of pucks on net, that’s a good thing.
The Flames, and Toffoli, are hitting a lot of posts and crossbars, but right now it’s part of a general barrage of pucks on net. It’s a weird trend, but it’s ultimately a pretty positive one.

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