Calgary FlamesScience/Statistics

How to Win #Flames1stGoal

One of the most universal human experiences involves logging onto Twitter and making a guess for the Calgary Flames’ #Flames1stGoal contest. Every single game day, you select a player in hopes of being right, and more importantly, scoring those coveted tickets to a home game.

There are many strategies for picking the first goal scorer. Some may pick Sean Monahan every single game, hoping to cash in on his scoring prowess. Others might pick based on who’s hot at the time, hoping that it would translate to Twitter luck. And then some might go completely off the books and pick someone who who has no business making it onto the scoresheet. Each strategy has its strengths and drawbacks. You can pick a consistent scorer but be among hundreds of others who opted for the same route, or you can pick a wild-card and hope you’re one of few with that school of thought.

With the season now underway, we’re all trying to tap into our fortune telling capabilities and get those first goal predictions in. Perhaps it would be better to take a look at last season to see if any hints might lie within the numbers. It might be nice to recall that former Flame Alex Chiasson scored the first ever goal against the Oilers in Rogers Arena. If that’s a bit too far away, then how about Curtis Lazar scoring his first as Flame in Game 82 down in San Jose. Many stories accompanied the first goals scored, but at the end of the day, it’s about being right with your picks.

So far this season, TJ Brodie has been the lone first goal scorer for the Flames. He put on a stellar show against the Winnipeg Jets and we’re all in agreement with that.

To help you put yourself in a winning position, we’ve broken down the first goal data from last season just to see how the fan-favourite Flames’ Twitter contests played out, so that you can make more fine-tuned predictions this coming year.

Total Goals

If you’re going to base your predictions purely on who scores the most first goals most often, then picking Monahan, Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik, Kris Versteeg, or Sam Bennett could bear fruit. The Flames had a very distributed offense last season, with 12 players reaching 10 goals. Interestingly enough, the same 12 players also scored the Flames first goals on multiple occasions. Whether the scoring depth will continue this season remains to be seen, but based on the returning names, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more or less the same. However, you can’t ignore the addition of Jaromir Jagr. His linemates may very well see an increase in their scoring, and may be excellent choices to cast your predictions with.

Total Share

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Home and Away

Some players play better at home, and some play better away. When at the Saddledome, Versteeg and Matthew Tkachuk oft set the jumbotron torches ablaze, whereas Backlund and Bennett left home with clear intentions of drawing first blood on the road. Monahan, Gaudreau, and Dougie Hamilton however, were fairly neutral, all being mostly unaffected by whether they were at home or on the road.


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West versus East

Checking to see who performed best in different time zones could reap some rewards when placing your predictions. Johnny Gaudreau somehow only scored first when it was against the western conference. When the Flames play eastern teams, it might be wise to leave him out of your first goal selection. Other players seem more evenly split in scoring in the eastern or western conferences, however, Micheal Ferland might be a standout guy to pick when the Flames play their games against the east.


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Divisional Split

Monahan had first-goal-mania against the Metropolitan, but completely failed to score first against the Atlantic even once. Versteeg and Gaudreau were the Central specialists, leading the way with four and three first goals respectively. Bennett was the Flame that was a few notches more potent when playing against the Atlantic. And of course, many Flames entered the scoresheet first against the Pacific. Side note: None of the mighty Metropolitan teams were able to shut out the Flames last season, so kudos to the Flames for ranking high on the league’s list of most trivial feats.


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Using these graphs, perhaps winning can happen more often when it comes to predicting the #Flames1stGoal. Some insights might hold true between the last season and this one, while others may get completely turned around. As random as the first goal scorer will always be, it definitely doesn’t hurt to enhance a prediction with a bit of historical data. We can only hope that the “Nobody Scored” column remains low so that more fans can win throughout the season.


This Season

Game 1: @ Edmonton Oilers

  • Our pick: Sean Monahan
  • Actual scorer: Shutout

Game 2: vs. Winnipeg Jets

  • Our pick: Kris Versteeg
  • Actual scorer: TJ Brodie

Game 3: @ Anaheim Ducks

  • Our pick: Johnny Gaudreau
  • Actual scorer: Sean Monahan

Game 4: @ Los Angeles Kings

  • Our pick: Johnny Gaudreau
  • Actual scorer: Matthew Tkachuk

Game 5: vs Ottawa Senators

  • Our pick: Sam Bennett
  • Actual Scorer: Shutout

Game 6: @ Vancouver Canucks

  • Our pick: Mikael Backlund
  • Actual Scorer: Mark Giordano

Game 7: vs Carolina Hurricanes

  • Our pick: Sean Monahan
  • Actual Scorer: Sean Monahan
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