The second quarter of the season has officially passed following the Flames’ 28th game of the season last Saturday. Similar to our first quarter Flames report cards, it’s now time to see how the Flames roster fared in the second quarter of the season. We’ll assign a report card grade for each Flames player who played over 100 minutes over the team’s last 14 games between February 14th to March 13th.
The second quarter of the season was a roller coaster to say the least. The team went a very average 6-6-2 over the 14 game stretch, with some very low points mixed in there including being blown out by the Oilers 7-1, and losing 6-1 and 5-1 to the lowly Ottawa Senators. They also scored just one goal in six of their 14 games played. This led to the firing of head coach Geoff Ward (Grade: F-) and the return of Darryl Sutter.
The early returns from the change were positive though as the team won their final two games of the quarter to get back above .500. They finished the second quarter of the season just two points out of the playoffs and fifth in the North Division.
Despite struggling to stay above .500, the Flames’ underlying numbers were once again solid through this quarter of the season. They ranked 11th for CF% and 12th for xGF% over the 14 game stretch. In the first quarter of the season they ranked 13th for CF% and ninth for xGF% and went 7-6-1.
Let’s get to the player grades and see who improved, and who struggled compared to their first quarter performance.
How Do These RANKINGS wORK?
A reminder that these rankings are based on a model that evaluates 5v5 offence. In order to grade players, we will be using the TWC Player Offensive Evaluation Tool (POET).
The model operates similarly to the power rankings model we update on a weekly basis. The player model takes specific on-ice statistics including CF% at various danger levels, xGF%; individual statistics including goals, assists, offensive contributions, and penalty differentials; and includes an adjustment for time on ice, PDO, and offensive zone starts.
Each player’s statistics are put through the model and combined to produce an overall TWCScore. These scores are then compared to the rest of the league to determine what letter grade they fall into. If their TWC score is above 0 on their player cards then they are above average compared to all other players of the same position (forwards or defencemen).
For the second quarter, all players in the whole league with at least 100 minutes at 5v5 between February 14 and March 13 are included in the overall model that the Flames players compare to. For the Flames, only players who met that threshold are given grades, and over the past 14 games, that equates to 15 skaters.
It is important to emphasize that the model is based on player performance at 5v5. This is not meant to diminish the efforts of the Flames work on special teams, but to be more representative of a players form against equal opposition. Let’s see who ranks where on the Flames squad. You can click on each card to see it in full size.
Q1 GRADE: C+
This one is is a little surprising, but when you dig deeper Dillon Dube was arguably the Flames’ best offensive forward at 5v5 during the second quarter of the season. After struggling big time after returning from an injury at the beginning of the year, Dube started to turn things around at the end of February.
During the 14 game stretch Dube put up a solid 52.8 CF%, good for fourth on the team among forwards. He also ranked fourth for HDCF% at 52.3. Individually he did a great job at generating shots as he ranked second on the team for iCF with 44. His iHDCF of 10 ranked third on the team among forwards with less than 200 minutes TOI.
His production at even strength is the main reason for his team high grade among forwards though. His seven even strength points was tied for first on the team with Matthew Tkachuk who had over 30 minutes more ice time. Even more impressive was his team-leading points per 60 of 2.51, much higher than Tkachuk’s second ranked rate at 2.08. Dube also put up the team’s first hat trick of the season against the Senators.
Q1 GRADE: A-
Similar to the first quarter of the year, Matthew Tkachuk’s play has been very hard to grade. He doesn’t look like himself most of the time, yet his underlying numbers and production have been mostly solid. We touched on this in our first quarter report cards but perhaps he’s dealing with an undisclosed nagging injury right now because something seems off with his game.
He actually led all forwards on the team with a CF% of 55.6. His GF% of 55.2 ranked second among forwards. Individually his iCF of 48 and iHDCF of 15 were both first on the team. Here’s where things get weird though. His xGF% ranked dead last among forwards on the team during the 14 game stretch at just 48.3. Similarly his HDCF% of 45.6 was also last among forwards.
Production-wise, he was tied for first on the team with seven points at even strength, although he scored just one goal at evens over the 14 games. His 27 shots at even strength were second on the team, but his even strength shooting percentage was second last at just 3.7. Just bad luck or perhaps an injury?
Tkachuk’s underlying numbers at 5v5 are simply all over the board right now. The good news is he’s still producing overall as he had 12 points at all situations over the 14 game stretch, good for first on the team. Regardless, the Flames still need the old Tkachuk back soon if they want to go anywhere this year. Hopefully a new coach is the spark he needs.
Q1 GRADE: A-
I think Mikael Backlund’s grade can be a little deceiving. He wasn’t bad by any means during the second quarter of the season, and was almost certainly dragged down by a team going through a very bad stretch. Like usual his underlying numbers were solid.
He was first among forwards for CF% at 55.5, first for xGF% at 58.3, and third for HDCF% at 54.8. Unfortunately his actual GF% was not up to his standards at all, ranking third last at 36.8. The huge difference between his xGF% and actual GF% points to the team’s struggles and some bad luck.
The big knock on Backlund over this stretch was his offensive production, once again most likely a product of a team struggling to score. He had just three even strength points over 13 games which was tied for last among forwards with at least 100 minutes. He actually led all forwards with an ixG of 2.93 and was second for iHDCF at 11 though which is promising. I wouldn’t expect his scoring struggles to continue into the second half of the season.
Q1 GRADE: A+
After having a ridiculous start to the season and earning the highest grade on the team in the first quarter, Andrew Mangiapane came back down to earth in the second quarter of the season. His play was what could be best described as average across the board.
Known for putting up sparkling underlying numbers, Mangiapanes numbers were good not great over the last 14 games. He did still rank third on the team for CF% at 54.1 though. His xGF% was a very average 51.1, good for fifth among forwards. His actual GF% was very similar, coming in at 50.4.
His HDCF% was pretty rough though as he ranked second last among forwards at 46.0. His on ice HDCA was also second last at 39.91. Some very unusual numbers from Mangiapane who usually puts up elite underlying numbers.
His even strength point production was also just okay, with four points in 14 games. Again it’s worth pointing out how much the team struggled to score over the last 14 games. Mangiapane was actually second on the team for ixG at 2.12 though which bodes well for a bounce back in the second half of the season.
Q1 GRADE: A
After starting the year off on fire with 15 points in his first 14 games, Johnny Gaudreau cooled off considerably in the second quarter of the season. He put up just eight points in 14 games, a big drop off for him. On a more positive note though his underlying numbers did improve as his defensive game also is starting to see a big change.
Probably one of the biggest reasons for the Flames offensive struggles during the second quarter was Gaudreau having a big drop-off in 5v5 production. In the first quarter he led the team with nine points in 14 games at 5v5. This quarter he was tied for last among forwards with just three in 14 games, all three of which were assists. For comparison he had five goals at 5v5 over the first 14 games of the year.
As mentioned above, despite his scoring going down, Gaudreau’s underlying numbers improved this quarter. His xGF% of 57.8 was second among forwards behind only Backlund, while his HDCF% was first at 59.3. Even his CF% of 50.4 which ranked seventh among forwards was an improvement over the previous 14 games.
Simply put, the Flames need Gaudreau producing at even strength if they want to be successful and it’s no surprise that the teams offensive struggles coincided with Gaudreau’s own struggles on offenc
e this quarter. His improved underlying numbers suggest the points could start coming soon though.
Q1 GRADE: C-
After a terrible start to the season that included a surprise trade request, Sam Bennett turned it around a bit in the second quarter despite being healthy scratched a couple times. His scoring production is still awful, but his underlying numbers got a big improvement in the second quarter which is great to see.
First off like I mentioned above Bennett is still struggling to put up points. His three points in 12 games this quarter was near the bottom of the team among forwards, ahead of only Joakim Nordstrom who had zero. Despite all of his points coming at 5v5, he still ranked tied for last among forwards for 5v5 production.
The good news is his underlying numbers were at least a big improvement over the first quarter. Reminder that he ranked last for CF%, xGF% and HDCF% among forwards in the first quarter. This time around though he ranked fifth for CF% at 52.5, third for xGF% 55.8, and second for HDCF% at 55.8.
His scoring has still been very poor which drags down his overall grade, but his underlying numbers are very promising as is having a fresh start with a new coach. Bennett will be one of the most interesting players to watch in the second half of the season.
Q1 GRADE: B
Like his first quarter of the season, Sean Monahan put up some ugly underlying numbers in the second quarter. His offensive production at 5v5 also dropped off a bit. Like Gaudreau, when Monahan isn’t scoring, there’s a good chance the Flames aren’t either.
After putting up 11 points in the first 14 games of the year, Monahan had nine in 12 games this quarter, good for third among forwards. Unfortunately his 5v5 production went from eight points in the first 14 games to just four in 12 games. It is worth noting his five goals in all situations led the team though as did his 16.13 shooting percentage.
His underlying numbers didn’t come with many positives however. His CF% of 48.9 was last among forwards, as was his on ice GA of 4.13. His on ice GF of 5.02 wasn’t much better coming in at second last among forwards. His HDCF% of 48.8 was sixth among forwards.
Individually it doesn’t look much better as his ixG was seventh at 1.47 and his iHDCF was second last at just five high-danger chances. For someone who is expected to be your top goal scorer, Monahan struggled a ton this quarter to produce chances and goals at even strength. The Flames need him to be much better beyond the power play.
Q1 GRADE: B+
When your top two centres hold two of the lowest grades of any forwards on the team it isn’t a very good sign. Like Monahan, Elias Lindholm’s underlying numbers don’t tell a very pretty story. The good news is his offensive production was still solid.
All things considered Lindholm’s offensive totals were still pretty good considering how little the Flames scored this quarter. He put up 10 points in 14 games after getting 14 in 14 games last quarter. His 10 points were second on the team behind Tkachuk. His six 5v5 points were the same as last quarter and ranked him third among forwards on the team.
Unfortunately his underlying numbers were poor, especially for a player who is considered your top line centre. His CF% was sixth among forwards at 51.8, as was his xGF% of 49.9. His HDCF% of 52.0 ranked fifth. On a positive note his actual GF% was tops among forwards at 64.6%.
Here’s where Lindholm really struggled, as evidenced by his POET. He was downright terrible at individual shot production. He ranked last among forwards for 5v5 shots, iCF, ixG and iHDCF. He was the only forward with over 100 minutes TOI to have an ixG under one and had just 10 shots and four high-danger chances at 5v5 over 14 games. Like Monahan, the Flames need much more from Lindholm.
Q1 GRADE: A
After his very impressive first quarter of the season, Milan Lucic’s play declined this quarter. His offensive production at 5v5 was halved and his underlying numbers came back down from their early season highs.
First off, his all situations offensive production didn’t drop too much this quarter although it wasn’t great. He had four points in 14 games after putting up 6 in 14 games through the first quarter of the year. At 5v5 he had three points which was tied for last among forwards after having six in the first quarter which was tied for third among forwards.
The main reason for Lucic’s high grade through the first quarter were his impressive underlying numbers which declined considerably this quarter. Lucic was second last among forwards for CF% and xGF% at 48.4 and 48.7 respectively. His HDCF% wasn’t much better at 46.7 which was third last among forwards. His GF% was dead last among forwards at just 27.7.
Q1 GRADE: A
After a very strong start to the season, Noah Hanifin continued his strong play and was without question the Flames best defenceman in the second quarter of the year.
He didn’t produce a ton of offence as he had just two point at 5v5 during the second quarter, but he played some lights out defensive hockey at even strength. In the second quarter of the year, he ranked third among Flames defenceman for CF% at 52.5 and xGF% at 55.8. He was also second for both GF% at 62.1 and HDCF% at 62.0.
His individual numbers also looked very good. He lead Flames defenceman for ixG over the 14 games and was the only one sitting above one at 1.09. His iCF and iHDCF both ranked second at 58 corsi, three of which were high-danger. His iSCF was first among Flames defencemen at 17.
Hanifin was the team’s most dependable defenceman once again this quarter, showcased by his team leading 261 minutes at 5v5 over the the 14 games. Midway through the season now it’s solidified that his hot start wasn’t just a fluke.
Q1 GRADE: D+
This was an interesting one as Rasmus Andersson comes out looking a lot better than I expected. After his absolutely dreadful start to the season Andersson turned things around a bit offensively which is the reason for his huge grade improvement. Unfortunately his possession numbers were still very poor.
Andersson ranked last among defenceman for CF% at 50.7, last for xGF% at 43.7, and second last for HDCF% at 40.8 which is the reason for his very low possession rating. The good news is his offence was very solid this quarter which brings his grade up.
Andersson put up 6 points at 5v5 over the 14 games, leading Flames defenceman. His five 5v5 assists were also first. Even compared to the teams forwards, he had some solid totals as his six points and five assists at 5v5 tied him for second team wide in both categories. At all strengths his seven points were once again first among defenceman and tied for fifth team wide.
He’s putting up a good amount of points right now, which evidently matters, but his poor underlying numbers over another 14 games are cause for concern. That’s half a season of Andersson not playing at the level many had expected him to be playing at.
Q1 GRADE: d-
Like Andersson, Mark Giordano started the season off terribly. Luckily in the second quarter of the year his play improved but still not as much as you’d like to see. His underlying numbers were poor but his offence was much better than the first quarter.
Like his partner, Giordano struggled at even strength. His CF% of 51.6 was second last among defenceman as was his xGF% of 48.2. Even HDCF% in which he ranked fourth, his number of 43.5 is pretty ugly. Similarly his GF% ranked fourth but was just 43.8.
Luckily for the Flames, Gio’s offence turned a corner this quarter. He led all Flames defenceman in 5v5 shots with 28 as well as iCF with 63. However, not of his corsi were high danger and just 10 were scoring chances. His ixG totalled 0.94 despite the high shot volume, and that number also ranked second. His five points and four assists at 5v5 were both second behind only Andersson. Gio’s six all situations points were second too.
Like Andersson, Gio struggled possession wise once again this quarter but his offensive totals improved which is good to see.
Q1 GRADE: a-
Juuso Valimaki struggled a bit more during the second quarter after his strong start to the season. His possession numbers were strong but his individual shot generation was pretty week. His offensive game completely dried up as well.
Let’s start off with the positive. Valimaki led all Flames defenceman for CF% at 53.0. He was also second for xGF% at 56.4 and third for HDCF% at 52.3. All things considered the fact he was above 50 in each category is pretty impressive.
What drags his grade down is his poor individual numbers. He ranked fourth among defenceman for ixG at 0.59, and fourth for iCF at 36. He also had zero iHDCF and just six iSCF. Points wise he had two points in 14 games after having five in the first quarter.
Valimaki once again had some ups and downs this quarter but overall his play has been solid considering it’s his first full year in the NHL.
Q1 GRADE: A-
Chris Tanev is very tough to grade. The model evaluates 5v5 offensive production which means a player like Tanev who is strictly a defensive defenceman gets docked big points. Make no mistake though he was once again lights out defensively this quarter.
Tanev ranked second for CF% at 52.7, first for xGF% at 59.6, first for GF% at 64.9 and first for HDCF% at 69.3 over the 14 game stretch. He was absolutely incredible defensively despite the teams struggles. He also had the most 5v5 defensive zone starts among defenceman on the team along with Giordano at 37.
What lowers his grade so much is the fact that he’s a black hole offensively. He was second last among defenceman for ixG and iCF at 0.45 and 35 respectively. He also had zero high-danger chances. His one point over the 14 games was tied for last among defenceman with Nikita Nesterov despite playing six more games.
Tanev is very strong defensively but very poor offensively which lowered his grade but he was very good for the team this quarter in the role he plays.
Q1 Grade: D+
Nikita Nesterov put up similar numbers to his first quarter although his underlying metrics slipped a bit which lowered his grade. He was also healthy scratched six times so he just made the 100 minutes TOI cut off by nine minutes.
Overall his results aren’t terrible. He ranked fourth for CF% at 51.70 and fourth for xGF% at 51. He was dead last for HDCF% at a dreadful 35.83 though. Like Tanev, Nesterov brings absolutely nothing offensively which tanks his grade. He put up just one point at 5v5 over eight games, and just 10 shots. His iCF of 20 and iSCF of three were both last among defenceman.
Nesterov has been in and out of the lineup recently and with Oliver Kylington looking good in his place he may be relegated to press box duties as the season goes on.
Onto The Second Half
The first half of the Flames season is officially over as they kicked off their second half with a huge 4-3 win over the Oilers on Monday night. The team has now won three straight games since hiring Darryl Sutter and is right back in the playoff hunt.
Almost every player on the team graded out lower than they did in the first half, a sign of just how badly the team played offensively during the 14 game stretch. The good news is things were much better during the final two games of the quarter with a new coach.
Considering how bad things seemed at points during the second quarter of the season, it’s rather impressive that the team managed to stay at .500 and ended the quarter just two points back of a playoff spot. With Darryl Sutter back in town, it will be very interesting to see if he can continue to turn things around and get this team back into the playoffs in the second half of the season. Buckle up.