At the start of the 2018-19 season, we put out The Win Column’s over/under predictions for this year’s iteration of the Calgary Flames. As Johnny Gaudreau is spending his weekend in San Jose to participate in the 2019 All-Star Game, let’s take a look at which predictions are holding true and which are probably doomed.
The Flames have definitely outperformed pre-season expectations to say the least. That being said, a lot of predictions we received were highly bullish on the Flames. That might have been the best strategy as the Flames are currently enjoying one of their best seasons in franchise history.
Johnny Gaudreau Points: 81.5
Current: 73 Points
Sitting second in the mid-season PHWA voting for the Hart Trophy, Gaudreau’s season has been nothing short of spectacular. He’s playing hockey at a level reserved for the top echelon of NHL players, and has led the Flames in offence for virtually the entire season.
Gaudreau needs just nine points in the final 31 games to surpass the mark set for him. Notice that netting the “over” on his point total automatically sets his season point pace as a point-per-game player. However, he’s produced so much so often that he’s pulling his career totals towards being point-per-game. Very impressive stuff from a 104th overall pick.
Sean Monahan Goals: 33.5
Current: 27 Goals
Sean Monahan‘s offence has found a new level, after undergoing countless (four) surgeries to repair effectively his entire body, he’s played superbly and is second on the team in goals, behind Gaudreau. Monahan will likely surpass the mark set for him as well, unless he runs into a cold streak on offence. Dare we say he might hit the 40 goal mark?
Elias Lindholm Shots: 163.5
Current: 119 Shots
Elias Lindholm‘s performance as a Calgary Flame has been one of the best surprises of the season. Few would have expected him to be 13th in the league for scoring at the All-Star break. He already surpassed career highs in several offensive categories. He’ll also likely skyrocket past his career high in shots taken of 176. On pace for 191 shots this season, he’ll probably hit the “over” on 163.5 shots.
Matthew Tkachuk Penalties Drawn: 39.5
Current: 17 Penalties Drawn
The NHL’s friendliest player, Matthew Tkachuk, has broken out offensively this season and is tied for 14th in the league for scoring, alongside Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby, and Sebastian Aho.
Tkachuk’s taken a lesser role in terms of drawing penalties; Gaudreau leads the team so far with 26. As we’ve seen this season, Tkachuk’s play has arguably more offence-focused and less on being a pest (unless you’re Zack Kassian). Still able to get under the skin of opponents, Tkachuk’s game has seen a slight shift. He’s not looking to cross as many lines as he used to, unless it’s the goal line.
Mikael Backlund Corsi For %: 55.5
Current: 54.1 CF%
At 5v5, Mikael Backlund is dominant with puck possession, as per usual. However, he’s currently just shy of the mark set for him. Hard to tell what will ensue for the remainder of the season, as it entirely depends on how Bill Peters manages his matchups. There’s no reason why Backlund can’t elevate past 55.5 CF%, but it seems like a coin toss on whether he is over or under at season’s end.
Michael Frolik Goals: 9.5
Current: 11 Goals
If you took the over on Michael Frolik, congratulations, you were right. Allan Walsh, Frolik’s agent, was also right, or something like that.
What’s more impressive is Frolik accomplished this despite missing a stretch of games while out with a lower-body injury. His offensive touch definitely pads the Flames’ depth up front.
Dillon Dube Games Played: 49.5
Current: 23 Games Played
Unfortunately, the best eyebrows in the league has spent over half of the season in the AHL. Making the Flames’ roster out of training camp, Dillon Dube was a treat to watch when he did play. No other player seemed as hungry for his first NHL goal as Dube did. The Flames probably want to use the rest of the season to develop Dube’s game in the AHL, barring injuries to the NHL forward corps.
Dube will likely take the “under” on this one. He’d have to play on the Flames’ roster for pretty much the remainder of the season, and seeing how there’s already a rotating fourth line, the stars need to align for this to happen.
James Neal Goals: 26.5
Current: 5 Goals
Where do we start with James Neal? He knows as well as anyone that he’s not producing offensively anywhere close to where he should be. He’s spent virtually the entire season snake-bitten, and it’s gotten comical. Chances are he won’t hit the “over” on his goal total here, he’s at risk of not hitting 20 goals on a season for the first time in his career.
Despite the low goal totals, fingers are crossed he’ll find a spark to unleash his offence for the remainder of the season. The offensive arrival of Neal can greatly elevate the Flames’ offence and it would sure be a relief for him too.
Sam Bennett PIMs: 54.5
Current: 72 PIMs
The Flames’ fourth overall pick has found his role this season. A part of Sam Bennett‘s role includes taking some penalties, whether they come in the form of fights or other minors. He plays a hard-nosed game and is making progress on being more well-rounded and valuable to the Flames.
Bennett has 27 more penalty minutes than the runner up, Tkachuk, who is next at 45. Suffice to say, Bennett’s taken the “over” and will probably close out the season with a career-high in penalty minutes, as he only needs 4 PIMs to reach a new high.
Mark Jankowski Goals: 14.5
Current: 8 Goals
Apparently for Mark Jankowski, the inclusion of goals scored when not at 5v5 would have been a better choice. It’s up in the air whether Jankowski will reach the “over” on the goals total, but his four shorthanded goals leads the Flames in that category and has made their penalty kill that much more potent.
Austin Czarnik Points: 29.5
Current: 6 Points
At the start of the season, Austin Czarnik‘s linemates were Backlund and Tkachuk. That alone was enough reason to think he’d reach an impressive point total on the season. However, Czarnik quickly fell on the depth chart and is now a rotating healthy scratch. He’s still an effective player and he really should be getting more playing time than not, but he likely won’t be hitting 30 points this season.
Andrew Mangiapane Games Played: 41.5
Current: 13 Games Played
Andrew Mangiapane was poised to make a splash in the NHL this season; however, he hasn’t transitioned into the big leagues as smoothly as he would have liked. Perhaps next season will see a different story written for the diminutive player, but he’ll be taking the “under” this time around.
Mark Giordano Points: 44.5
Current: 52 Points
The 35-year-old Mark Giordano is in all likelihood going to win his first ever Norris Trophy in June. He’s put together a monster of a season and it’s about time he’s rightfully rewarded for his defensive prowess. One of the Flames’ best players, the captain is just four points away from tying his career-high. His 52 points is only behind Brent Burns‘ 55 among defencemen, in which Burns has played three more games than Giordano.
T.J. Brodie Assists: 36.5
Current: 19 Assists
T.J. Brodie being promoted back to the first pairing with Giordano was a move that sparked a lot of hope in what the defenceman was going to achieve this season. Brodie has played fine for much of the season, but he’s likely taking the “under” on this. He’ll have to double his current assists, but has much less than half a season to do so.
Noah Hanifin Points: 38.5
Current: 25 Points
The arrival of Noah Hanifin to the Flames brought out both optimists and pessimists. Oft compared to the Dougie Hamilton as the player he was replacing, expectations for Hanifin were perhaps unfairly high. To see if he’d make a splash as a Flame, the point mark set for him would actually exceed his career-high. He’s on pace to take the “over” here though, so maybe he is in fact, meeting expectations after all.
Rasmus Andersson Games Played: 16.5
Current: 48 Games Played
At the start of the season, it looked like the Flames were ready to promote their defensive prospects. It seemed fairly obvious that Rasmus Andersson was going to make the jump to the NHL, but it was uncertain how many games he’d play. However, unfortunate injuries to Michael Stone and Juuso Valimaki has been Andersson’s first-class ticket to being an NHL regular. He’s played almost the entire season and has been making strides towards getting better and better every game.
Juuso Valimaki Games Played: 29.5
Current: 22 Games Played
If not for a high-ankle sprain, Valimaki would have easily passed 30 games played by now. As his return draws nearer and nearer, it’s not totally certain if the Flames will want to get him up to speed playing in the AHL first or not, so it may be a coin-toss on if he’ll play the additional eight games needed to take the “over” on the season.
He made his Stockton Heat debut on Friday night, which is a good first step to reevaluate his play and see which roster he’s best suited for.
Mike Smith Games Played: 55.5
Current: 25 Games Played
As much of a workhorse he was for the Flames last season, Mike Smith‘s time as their starting goaltender is over. He’s played in 25 games so far, and with David Rittich‘s ascension to become the primary goaltender for the Flames, Smith will take the “under” on this.
David Rittich Save Percentage: 0.8995
Who could have foreseen that Rittich would put together the season he has? One of the best goaltenders in the NHL this year, he’s clawed his way up from being a big question mark in October to being the de facto starter for the Flames now.
Rittich will easily take the “over” on his save percentage. In Big Save Dave we trust.
Number of double digit goal scorers: 10.5
The Flames are enjoying one of their best offensive seasons in recent memory. Already at 190 goals for as a team, they’re second in the league, only behind the Tampa Bay Lightning (199 goals for). Given Calgary’s prolific scoring rate, it’s perhaps a little bit surprising that only seven players have hit 10 or more goals.
The most likely players to next hit 10 goals scored would be Bennett (8 G), Jankowski (8 G), Brodie (6 G) and Neal (5 G). It’s entirely possible that all four of these players actually do hit 10 goals, which would tip the Flames from “under” to “over”.
Longest winning streak: 7.5
The Flames are really winning quite often, but they also sneak in a loss or two every now and then. They had two separate five-game win streaks so far, and are in the middle of a three-game win streak heading into the All-Star break. Plenty of games left to play, this one could go either way.
Powerplay Rank: 12.5
Current: 8th Ranked
For this one, as with how rankings work, over is worse, under is better.
The work that Geoff Ward (assistant coach) has done with the Flames’ power play has paid off greatly. For much of the season, it felt like the first power play unit could score on virtually any chance and looked lethal. As of late, the second unit has gotten onto the scoreboard too. Last season, their power play was ranked 29th. This season, its ranked eighth. They’ll probably remain in the top 10, so look for them to take the “under” here.
Wins against Oilers: 2.5
Current: 2 Wins
After three Battles of Alberta this season, the Flames hold a 2-1 edge over the Oilers. One team is trending way up while the other is trending way down. Their last meeting this season will be Game 82, where this prediction will be decided.
Current: 33 Wins
The Flames are first in the Western Conference and are chasing the Lightning for top spot in the league. They’re a shoe-in for the playoffs and are now focused on locking up home-ice advantage. The Flames will likely finish first place somewhere; whether it’s in the division, conference, or dare we say the league. They’re in a really good spot heading into the All-Star break. Even if they play an abysmal .500 for the remainder of the season, they’ll sit at a comfortable 48 wins. They’re certainly taking the “over” on wins.