The All-Star Game has come and gone, and the Pacific Division captured victory. The focus is back onto the regular season and the remaining games hold great importance for the Calgary Flames if they want to secure their spot in the playoffs.
As the Flames resumed play, they find themselves in the Pacific deadlock, with five teams in the mix for first place. They went straight to work and managed to pick up three points over two games: a shootout loss to the Blues and a crucial shootout win over the Edmonton Oilers. Having played 50 games prior to the all-star break, they have a solid sample size of games to build upon.
Let’s see what’s gone right and wrong for the Flames by highlighting some outstanding stats from their first 50 games to see how they managed to get to where they are now. All stats are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick. Only players with at least 25 games played will be considered.
5v5 Score and Venue Adjusted On-Ice Stats
We’ll start by looking at team stats, or how the Flames do when a player is on the ice. The values are taken at 5v5 and are score and venue adjusted. For each stat, we’ll look at the best the worst, and a surprising player, as well as how the Flames compare to the rest of the league.
- Best: Andrew Mangiapane has been a driver of play all season long and it shows; he leads the Flames with 52.3 CF%
- Worst: Dillon Dube is at the bottom with 46.7 CF%
- Surprise: Mikael Backlund, oft known for dominating possession, is slightly underwater at 49.2 CF%
- League: The Flames are ranked 15th in the league, just eking into the positive with 50.2 CF%
- Best: Dube has been enjoying being on the ice for more goals for the against, as he boasts a whopping 59.0 GF%
- Worst: There are black holes, and then there’s Mark Jankowski and his 23.1 GF%
- Surprise: Despite being praised for tightening up his defence, Sean Monahan‘s offence hasn’t been as potent and is a large reason he sits at just 42.4 GF%
- League: No surprises here, the Flames are struggling offensively and are 28th in the league at 45.4 GF%
Expected Goals For
- Best: Sam Bennett leads the team with 55.8 xGF%; who would have guessed that?
- Worst: Monahan is the worst on the team right now with 46.7 xGF%; who also would have guessed that?
- Surprise: Hard to have more surprises when both the best and worst players in this category are Bennett and Monahan, but let’s give the honours to ex-Oilers Tobias Rieder and Milan Lucic, who are both posting positive numbers at 53.3 and 51.7 xGF%, respectively
- Bonus: Michael Stone, who misses the games played cutoff with 22 GP, posted an unfathomably small 35.0 xGF%
- League: Perhaps the Flames are just unlucky, as their GF is much worse than their xGF; they sit 15th in the league with 49.9 xGF%
5v5 Individual Counts
Individual stats aren’t available with adjustments and show just the actual values. However, they provide excellent insight into how each player performs independently from everyone else on the ice.
- Best: Mark Giordano has taken the most iCF with 205, which is 37 more attempts than Noah Hanifin, who’s second on the team with 168
- Worst: Jankowski, in 39 games played has put up a measly 42 iCF; Dube, who’s played in 13 less games than Jankowski has 56
- Surprise: Johnny Gaudreau has the most iCF among forwards with 167, and actually leads the team with 100 shots
- Best: Monahan has 8.5 ixG to lead the team, more pucks should start going in for him soon
- Worst: Oliver Kylington has just 1.1 ixG so far, but he seems to be more focused on defence and not making costly mistakes
- Surprise: Backlund has scored just one goal at 5v5, despite having 7.7 ixG
- Best: Elias Lindholm is shooting at 14.5% so there’s nothing surprising about where he stands among the Flames in terms of goal scoring
- Worst: Kylington is unfortunately sitting at 0.0%, which won’t get too much of a boost once he scores his first 5v5 goal
- Surprise: Giordano’s 2.3% is much lower than last year’s 6.6%, and is also lower than his 5v5 career average of 4.7%
Of course, these are just a small sample of stats available to measure, but they do give context. With many Flames reaching career-highs last year, a couple steps back thanks to regression was not surprising. There’s room for improvement across the board.
There is a lot of work left to do before April rolls around and the Flames are in a good spot. With a solid chance of making the playoffs, they need to focus and clean up their game a bit more, and with any luck they’ll play meaningful hockey well into the spring.