Visualising the Calgary Flames’ 2019-20 shootout successes

The Calgary Flames of 2019-20 are quite different from the team they were last year. That includes their shootout performance too. In 2018-19, the Flames went 0-4 in the shootout. This season, they’re 6-1. How did they turn the script inside out with such a drastic difference in the shootout?

Let’s breakdown what ensued during their shootouts this year and see if anything can be figured out.

The visualisation

I wanted to create a data visualisation that was clear, unique, and closer to data art than usual charts. I revisited each shootout and looked at the types of shots that were taken. Custom symbols were created for each shot type, and whether they’re filled or outlined indicates a goal versus no goal. The Flames’ attempts are red while their opponents are black.

The intent of the visualisation is to see how the Flames approached shootouts this year. Without further ado, here’s how everything unfolded for the Flames.

Observations

  • The Flames always started shootouts with Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, and if needed, Johnny Gaudreau.
  • Monahan has taken seven wrist shots in seven attempts.
  • Tkachuk alternates between wrist shots and backhand shots.
  • In the longest shootout they’ve had this season, it was Derek Ryan and Dillon Dube that were able to beat Alex Stalock to get on the board and secure the win for the Flames.
  • David Rittich is 6-0 in the shootout. Out of 21 attempts, Rittich only let in two goals for an incredible .905 SV%. The next best goalie in the shootout this season is John Gibson, who has a .750 SV% after 20 attempts.
  • In four separate games, Rittich stopped all shooters he faced. Some of those shooters included the likes of Aleksander Barkov, Claude Giroux, Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, and Leon Draisaitl.
  • Talbot let in both shots he faced against St. Louis, the Flames’ only shootout loss this year.
  • Only wrist shots have beaten the Flames’ goaltenders, all other shot types were unsuccessful.

In an ideal viewer perspective, shootouts would be banished in favour of longer overtimes. There’s more entertainment that way, and losing due to a shootout just never feels right. However, winning during a shootout is still a win and the Flames managed to do it six times. Simply euphoric.

To sum it up, most of the credit for the Flames’ shootout success this year deservedly goes to Rittich. He’s the difference maker. Between Monahan and Tkachuk, usually at least one of the two were able to score and with Rittich shutting the door on his end, the rest is history.

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