To say it has been a disaster of a season for the Calgary Flames would be an understatement. The team is at rock bottom right now with no signs that they can turn things around this year. They’ve struggled to score, struggled to defend, and struggled to get saves for most of the season which isn’t exactly a recipe for success. In other words they’ve pretty much sucked at everything.
One alarming trend this year in particular is the teams amount of blowout losses. It just seems that when things go wrong for this team in a game, they almost always snowball and get much worse leading to blowout loss after blowout loss. This got me thinking, where do the Flames stand in the league this year in terms of blowout losses? As well, how does this season compare to previous Flames seasons when comparing the amount of blowouts? Let’s take a look and see just how bad it’s been this year. Prepare for pain.
Breaking down the losses
First let’s take a look at every Flames loss this season and the goal differential for each one. The Flames have lost 21 out of 37 games so far this year, with three coming in extra time. Let’s break down the goal differential (GD) for each one to see how much the Flames are losing by.
|Goal Differential (GA-GF)||Number of Losses|
|1||10 (3 OT/SO)|
Surprisingly enough, the Flames are actually near the top of the league when it comes to one goal losses this season. They sit fifth in the league for one goal losses including OT/SO with 10 behind only the Ducks, Rangers, Stars, and Canadiens.
In terms of just regulation one goal losses, the Flames have seven which sits third in the league behind the Rangers and Ducks who have eight and nine respectively. That’s a lot of points lost in the standings and a large reason the Flames are where they are today.
The bad news is they are also near the top of the league when it comes to losses by three or more goals. They sit 10th in the league with seven losses by three or more goals. The Canucks and Sabres are tied for first with 13 each.
The Flames are in a group with the Ducks, Senators, Sabres, Coyotes and Red Wings as the only teams to rank top ten in both one goal regulation losses and losses by three or more. This team is proving once again that they are consistently inconsistent.
Blowout losses across the league
Now for the really depressing part. Let’s take a look at how many blowout losses the Flames have this season and how they stack up against the rest of the league. I’ll define a blowout as a loss by at least four or more goals, regardless of how many goals the losing team scored. So for example a 5-1 loss would be the same as an 8-4 loss in this ranking.
|Blowout Losses (GD > 3)||Teams|
|7||Canucks, Senators, Flyers|
|6||Flames, Ducks, Red Wings, Sharks|
|3||Bruins, Rangers, Blues|
|2||Sabres, Blackhawks, Avalanche, Blue Jackets, Devils, Jets|
|1||Stars, Panthers, Islanders, Lightning, Knights, Capitals|
|0||Hurricanes, Kings, Canadiens, Penguins, Leafs|
Well that’s not exactly pretty to look at. The Flames have been beaten by four or more goals six times this season, behind only the dreadful Senators and Canucks, as well as the Flyers who are in a free fall. They’ve been right there along with the two worst Canadian teams as the punching bags of the North Division.
The Flames were supposed to be the ones doing the punching this season in a weak division, not the ones getting punched. Being grouped with those two teams shows just how disappointing this year has been for the Flames.
Breaking it down further, the Flames have been blown out in six of their 21 losses this year, or around 29% of their losses. In terms of games played, the team has been blown out in six of 37 games, or 16% of their games. At this pace in a full 82 game season, the Flames would be on pace to suffer 13 blowout losses.
If we look at games where a team loses while scoring one or less goals and allowing five or more, the Flames have the most such games in the entire NHL. They’ve done this five times this year. Five. The next closest team is the Senators who have lost this way four times.
It really isn’t surprising though considering the Flames are currently second in the league for losses when scoring one or less goals. They’ve done this 11 times, behind only the Red Wings who’ve done it 13 times.
Perhaps the most troubling fact about these numbers is that all six blowout losses have come since their 5-1 loss to Vancouver on February 17th. Including that loss, the Flames have lost a total of 14 games since then, six of which have been blowouts. In other words, nearly half of the teams losses in the last month and a half have been blowout losses.
This isn’t just an early season issue, this is something that is happening more and more frequently for the team as the season goes on. Since bringing in Darryl Sutter, the team has been blown out twice in six losses. This team is trending in the completely wrong direction right now and is showing no signs of getting things back on track.
Record breaking season?
Clearly, the Flames have a major issue with getting blown out this season. It’s happening at an excruciating rate right now which has them at the top (or rather, bottom) of the league in that category. The Flames simply have not been this bad in recent memory.
This leads into our second question. How does 2021 stack up against previous Flames seasons? These blowouts are definitely coming much more frequently than in a normal year for Calgary, so let’s take a look. Below is the break down of total losses and blowout losses by the Flames over the last 10 seasons.
|Season||Losses||Blowout Losses||% of Losses that are Blowouts|
*Shortened 70 game season.**Shortened 48 game season
Well if there’s one thing this team has been consistent at over the last decade it’s the amount of times they get blown out in a season. Since 2012-13 they’ve been blown out six times in six of eight seasons.
The best seasons they’ve had in terms of not getting blown out aren’t surprising considering they’re the two most successful seasons for the team in the last decade. They suffered only two blowout losses in both 2018-19 and 2014-15.
The worst season after this one for blowout losses was the shortened 2012-13 season in which the team was blown out six times over just 29 losses and 48 games. The team ended up sixth-last in the league that year and ranked 15th for goals for and 28th for goals against.
Here’s the thing though, as ugly as 2012-13 was, their blow out rate was significantly lower than this season. This year they sit at 28.6% through 37 games compared to the 20.7% rate through 48 games in 2012-13. They sit 23rd for goals for per game and 19th for goals against per game.
So compared to that awful 2012-13 season the Flames are getting blown out more, and scoring less. A reminder that the teams forward group that year included the likes of Sven Baertschi, Roman Horak, Steve Begin, Tim Jackman and Brian McGrattan among others. Their defense group included Chris Butler, Derek Smith and a washed up Corey Sarich. In net was 36-year-old Miikka Kiprusoff and Joey MacDonald. Those guys got blown out at a lower rate and still scored more often than this current team.
If you want to find a Flames team that got blown out at a more frequent rate than this year’s team, you’d have to go all the way back to the 1981-82 season—just the second season in the Calgary Flames’ existence. That year the Flames got blown out by four or more goals in a staggering 14 of 34 losses, good for 41%. The second worse year would be the year prior in the inaugural 1980-81 season, where they got blown out in 11 of 27 losses, around 41% once again.
If you’re doing keeping track of the dates, you might have noticed something: Back then ties existed which greatly reduced the amount of losses teams would get. The season was also only 80 games too. Finally, there’s also the fact that goals were scored at a much higher rate. The NHL average for goals per game for both of those seasons sat around eight, making blowouts of four or more goals much more common across the league, not just for the Flames.
Long story short, in an era where goal scoring is much lower and goaltenders are much better, it’s an embarrassing list to be a part of for this 2020-21 Flames team.
A historic season for the wrong reasons
There’s no doubt that the Flames have struggled this year, but the rate at which they are getting crushed and blown out in defeats is very worrying. It signals a team that just can’t deal with adversity and when things go bad for them, they almost always get worse. The team was expected to compete for a Stanley Cup this year, not sit at the top of the league for blowout losses along with the Ottawa Senators.
The Flames are losing in blowout fashion at the third highest rate in franchise history right now, and the highest in almost 40 years. In a year where the team was supposed to be challenging for the division lead, sitting near the bottom while constantly getting blown out isn’t very encouraging for the future. The coaching change hasn’t fixed the issue either, suggesting that it may be a much deeper and unfixable issue with this team’s core and their inability to handle adversity.
Calgary will want to write this season off and quickly forget about it. However, the history books don’t forget, and unfortunately for the Flames, they’re on the wrong side of it in 2021.