The Calgary Flames are having some kind of run in 2018-19. Not only are they second in the NHL standings, they’re also second in terms of goals for. At 190 goals scored in 51 games played, they’re scoring at a prolific rate of 3.73 goals per game.
Historically, in any given hockey game, a team will win more often than not if they’re able to score at least three goals. Considering that the Flames are well above that mark, it’s no surprise that they’re winning so frequently.
Earlier in the season, I broke down how the Flames got their scoring with a data visualisation, and now, well past the mid-point of the season, it’s a good time to see how things have changed.
For starters, the Flames have increased their offence dramatically compared to the beginning of the season. Eighteen games into the season, they were scoring 3.11 goals per game. The increase they’ve enjoyed has been good reason to celebrate more goals and consequently, wins.
Which Flames players have contributed the most to their offence? Let’s find out.
There has been eight unique situations in which the Flames have scored so far this season. They’ve yet to capitalise on a penalty shot goal, but they’ve otherwise done virtually everything else.
Related at FlamesNation.ca: Rittich comes out on top in midseason review of goals against Calgary.
Taking a look at the chart, it’s wholly obvious that most of the Flames goals scored are even strength, as it should be. The bulk of scoring-leader Johnny Gaudreau‘s goals are in fact scored at even strength, and by a significant margin too. Other players like Sean Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk enjoy a bit more goal scoring when on the power play.
While Gaudreau had maintained a monopoly on overtime game winners for much of the season, T.J. Brodie and Mikael Backlund joined that list via recent overtime wins over the Philadelphia Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes.
Evidently, the first power play unit has been the most successful; the four forwards on the first unit decidedly lead the way in power play goals. Recently the second unit has seen more pucks make it into the back of the net too.
The Flames have scored 12 empty net goals compared to five with their own net empty. While game-clinching empty net goals are split fairly evenly across the whole roster, there’s a bit more of trend when looking at their game-tying efforts. Tkachuk, Monahan, Elias Lindholm, and Rasmus Andersson (listed under “Other” on the chart) have scored to mount comebacks for the Flames. That’s a pretty good group of players that can perform under pressure.
Gaudreau, Monahan, Tkachuk, and Lindholm are all either on-pace or have already surpassed their career-bests. It’s very likely that all four of them will hit the 30 goal threshold, once again highlighting just how good the Flames’ offence has been.
While goal scoring does taper off for the Flames, it still remains clear that they are receiving depth scoring. They have seven double-digit goal scorers, including Norris candidate Mark Giordano‘s 11 goals, which is tied for third in the league among defencemen. A couple of players not too far away from double digits as well. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Sam Bennett, Mark Jankowski, and James Neal all hit 10 goals before the end of the season.
Speaking of Jankowski, he’s having an odd year so far, as he has an equal number of even strength goals as he does short-handed. On top of that, not all his even strength goals were at 5v5 either. For some unknown reason, he’s enjoyed most of his goals when the Flames aren’t at full strength.
Several players haven’t quite found their stride in goal scoring. Of course, not all players are going to score a bunch of goals, but it is a bit surprising to see Neal, Derek Ryan and Austin Czarnik where they are. Each with their unique combinations of luck (or the lack thereof) and deployment, it’d be good for the bottom six to get some goals for the remainder of the season before the playoffs.
There are three Flames with one goal apiece. Along with Andersson, Dillon Dube and Juuso Valimaki combine as three Flames rookies to record their first career goals this season.
It’s been the same story all season long: these Flames can out-score any team and get into the win column. Led by their fantastic five, they’re making waves in the league and continue to light up the goal lights. No matter where they finish this season, expect to see many more goal celebrations for the Flames along the way.
All data courtesy of NHL.com. Chart made with R using the “ggalluvial” package. Colour palette via colorbrewer2.org.
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