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The Calgary Flames’ power play has been unproductive to a historic extent

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Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
19 days ago
As the Calgary Flames look forward to their final 33 regular season games coming out of the All-Star break, they have a simple truth to wrestle with: their power play really isn’t very good.
That’s not really a controversial statement. But as we head into the back nine of the season, it’s worth delving into just how unproductive their man advantage units have been. Because they’ve struggled to a historic degree.
There are a few different ways to measure power play productivity, but most of them boil down to “does the PP score goals?” We’re going to look at two different ways to answer that question: their goals per game, and their proportion of their man advantages that they convert on.
For this exploration, we’re focusing exclusively on Flames power play history.

Fewest power play goals per game

SeasonPP GoalsGamesPPG/GP
2023-2421490.43
2013-1439820.48
1972-7338780.49
1997-9843820.52
2009-1043820.52
2017-1843820.52
By pure goals per game, this is the least productive power play in Flames franchise history. They’re on pace for 35 power play goals over a full season, which would be four goals below their next-worst season. Heck, they’re on pace to barely out-scored their performances in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season (31 goals in 48 games) or the pandemic bubble 2020-21 season (32 goals in 56 games).

Lowest power play conversion rates

(This stat has been tracked by the league since 1977-78.)
SeasonPP GoalsPP OpportunitiesPP Success
1997-984335612.07%
2002-034738912.08%
2023-242115213.82%
1998-995135714.29%
2000-016543514.94%
The good news: this isn’t, by percentage, the least productive power play the Flames have ever had. But it’s third-lowest in PP percentage. Moreover, with 3.1. power plays per game, they’re on pace to have just 254 man advantages, which would be among the lowest they’ve ever had in an 82-game season.
The Flames’ power play is fourth-from-last in the NHL in conversion percentage and seventh-from-last in power play goals per game. Only four teams have scored fewer power play goals than Calgary. Only three teams have allowed more shorthanded goals than Calgary.
Simply put: the Flames’ power play hasn’t been what they’ve needed it to be. Following the Flames’ loss to Columbus back on Jan. 25, head coach Ryan Huska noted that the power play had cost them a couple games. He summed it up like this: “I feel like our penalty kill’s more dangerous than our power play right now, and that’s not a good thing.”
So we’ve looked at the results. In terms of problem definition, any way you want to interpret the results, they’re not good. So what can be done about the Flames’ processes to make their power play results better?
We’ll dive into that in part two.

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