After a team-wide COVID-19 outbreak leading to a lengthy pause in their season, the Calgary Flames second quarter of the season finally came to a close with a 4–3 comeback win over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.
Our second quarter grades will take into consideration the 21 games the Flames played between November 24th and February 1st. It was a roller coaster quarter for the Flames to say the least as the team experienced some extreme lows and some extreme highs over their past 21 games that spanned over two months due to postponements.
All said the Flames went a very average 10-10-1 over the 21 game segment, but closed out the quarter sitting second in the Pacific division based off points percentage.
Their underlying numbers remained elite however. Over that same time span the Flames ranked second in the NHL for CF%, and first for xGF% and HDCF%. They did however have the 26th best shooting percentage this quarter. Some better finishing and the team’s record this quarter would’ve been much better.
How do these rankings work?
A reminder that these rankings are based on a model that evaluates 5v5 play. 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).
It is important to note 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. Only players with over 100 minutes at 5v5 were given grades. All numbers are courtesy of naturalstattrick.com. Let’s see who ranks where on the Flames squad.
(Q1 Grade: A+)
Matthew Tkachuk has been absolutely dominant this season and across the last 21 games especially. After a down year in 2020-21, Tkachuk is in the midst of the best season of his career right now. His total TWC score of 354 was first in the entire NHL among forwards this past quarter.
He led all Flames forwards for CF% and xGF% at 60.68 and 61.60 respectively. His HDCF% of 62.11 ranked behind only Gaudreau and Mangiapane. League-wide, his CF% ranked 4th and his xGF% ranked 14th among forwards.
Tkachuk was tied with Gaudreau with 21 points at even strength, and was likewise tied for second in the NHL for even strength points per game in that time span as well. His 10 even strength goals led all Flames forwards last quarter as did his ixG of 6.85.
Tkachuk is one of the most complete, well-rounded wingers in the entire NHL and with his point totals sitting at a career-high pace, he’s earning himself a huge raise.
(Q1 Grade: A+)
Like Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau is another level right now. He’s playing the most well-rounded hockey of his entire career and is currently on pace for the most points in his career. What’s most impressive is Gaudreau’s elite underlying numbers this season. His TWC score of 341 ranked fourth in the NHL among forwards this quarter.
Gaudreau ranked third among Flames forwards for CF% at a ridiculous 60% trailing only Tkachuk and Mangiapane. It also ranks top 10 league wide among forwards. His xGF% of 60.76 also ranks third behind the same duo. His HDCF% of 62.81 ranks second behind only Mangiapane.
At even strength, Gaudreau produced 21 points in 21 games, tied for first on the team with line mate Tkachuk. His 14 assists and 11 primary assists both ranked first. In fact across the entire NHL only Kirill Kaprizov ranked ahead of Gaudreau in terms of even strength points per game.
Outside of Jonathan Huberdeau and Alexander Ovechkin, Gaudreau has been the best winger in the NHL offensively this season. He’s earning a big pay day come July.
(Q1 Grade: B+)
As the Flames’ big 2021 free agent signing, Blake Coleman’s offence finally started to come around this quarter after a slow start to the season. His underlying numbers however took a bit of a dip.
Coleman ranked fourth among Flames forwards for CF% at 58.43, but eighth for xGF% at 56.92, and 10th for HDCF% at 55.56. His HDCF% only ranked above Trevor Lewis and Brad Richardson so not exactly great company.
After putting up six points and three goals at even strength in the first quarter however, Coleman improved this time with eight points and five goals. He also led the Flames in even strength shots this quarter with 72 and was second for ixG with 6.44 behind only Tkachuk.
His offence saw a big improvement over his first quarter where he ranked eighth for points and sixth for goals. The Flames will need that to continue as Coleman is one of their most important secondary scorers.
(Q1 Grade: A-)
The third member of the Flames’ dynamic top line in Elias Lindholm doesn’t do the heavy lifting for the line, but still had a very solid second quarter.
He ranked fifth among Flames forwards for CF% at 58.33, second for xGF% at 61, and first for HDCF% at 63.47. Those numbers are most likely propped up by his two elite wingers, but still ultra impressive nonetheless.
In terms of point production, Lindholm ranked third on the team among forwards, but well behind Tkachuk and Gaudreau. In total he put up 10 points at even strength in the 21 games, including seven assists. He may not have kept up with his two line mates, but Lindholm is by far the team’s best centre and it isn’t particularly close.
(Q1 Grade: B)
Mikael Backlund has continued to struggle this season offensively, although his underlying numbers are still solid which isn’t surprising.
He ranked sixth among Flames forwards for CF% at 58.32 and xGF% at 57.92 this quarter. He also ranked ninth for HDCF% at 57.49. When compared to the rest of the league his numbers still stand up strong; however, Backlund is typically a team leader in terms of underlying numbers so his second quarter numbers are lower than we have come to expect from him.
His point production was identical to last quarter as he once again had six points at even strength. His two goals at even strength ranked tied for fifth on the team for forwards.
Backlund is not the player he once was, but he’s still providing the Flames with some solid two-way play. They could certainly use some more offence from their second line centre though.
(Q1 Grade: A+)
After having his Olympic dreams dashed by COVID-19, Andrew Mangiapane’s goal scoring took a step back this quarter. That said, his underlying numbers remained strong.
Mangiapane ranked second among Flames forwards for CF% at 60.06, fifth for xGF% at 58.50, and fifth for HDCF% at 61.14. His numbers are still strong however not as good as his first quarter numbers that saw him rank in the top two for each metric.
As mentioned, his goal scoring took a big step back this quarter. After scoring 10 even strength goals in the first quarter of the season, he scored just two this quarter. Overall he produced just four points in 21 games at even strength which ranked tied for eighth on the Flames among forwards.
Mangiapane was never going to sustain his blistering pace from the first quarter of the season, but the Flames will need more offensively from him going forward considering their complete lack of scoring depth behind him.
(Q1 Grade: D+)
Could Sean Monahan finally be bouncing back? After a dreadful first quarter in which he graded out as the team’s third worst forward, Monahan had a much better second quarter of the season.
His underlying numbers were decent this quarter as he ranked eighth among Flames forwards for CF% at 55.75, ninth for xGF% at 54.55, and sixth for HDCF% at 61.03. Similar ranks to last quarter, but his overall numbers were improved.
His offensive production at even strength wasn’t great, although it was still an improvement over his first quarter. He ranked seventh among Flames forwards with five points at even strength, and was tied for fourth with three goals. Last quarter he produced just two points at evens.
Monahan showed some promise this quarter that he still has some gas left in the tank. Here’s hoping that continue into the final half of the season.
(Q1 Grade: A-)
No forward saw a bigger fall in terms of overall grade than Dillon Dube. His offence completely evaporated, although his underlying numbers remained strong.
Dube ranked seventh among forwards for CF% and HDCF% at 57.88 and 60.56 respectively, and fourth for xGF% at 59.41. He did however rank first on the team for xGA/60 this quarter, which highlights his improved two-way game this season.
Offensively, Dube really struggled this quarter. He scored two goals and had no assists at even strength, for just two points across 21 games which ranked third worst among Flames forwards. He also finished eighth among Flames forwards with just 29 even strength shots.
Dube has posted some solid underlying numbers this year, but his second quarter saw little to no finishing ability. The Flames need him to contribute much more than he has been.
(Q1 Grade: B)
After a great start offensively in the first quarter, Milan Lucic failed to reproduce his results in the second quarter but still posted some good underlying numbers.
Lucic ranked ninth on the team for CF% at 55.00, 10th for xGF% at 54.19, and eighth for HDCF% at 59.30. His team ranks aren’t great, but when compared to the rest of the league his numbers are strong.
After finishing the first quarter third on the team with five even strength goals, Lucic posted just two goals at even strength this quarter and six points. His six points ranked fifth on the team and his two goals ranked sixth.
Despite looking brutal by the eye test, Lucic continues to chug along and stay above water. Also of note, James Neal is in the AHL.
(Q1 Grade: NA)
This is Brett Ritchie’s first grade of the year as he didn’t meet the minimum 100 minutes TOI requirement in the first quarter. His first grade is unsurprisingly very low.
He actually posted some decent underlying numbers, but that almost entirely has to do with who he gets to play with as he spent time on the Flames second and third lines this quarter. He ranked 10th among forwards for CF% at 54.53, seventh for xGF% at 57.40, and fourth for HDCF% at 61.26.
Offensively Ritchie may be the worst forward in the entire NHL. His TWC scoring grade of 16.27 was tied for last in the NHL among forwards. He produced 0 points at any strength this quarter, and currently sits with 0 points in 21 games this season.
Ritchie is not an NHL forward. The Flames desperately need to pickup a top-nine right winger to bump him to the press box.
(Q1 Grade: F)
Trevor Lewis went from the lowest graded forward on the team to the second worst so he’s got that going for him. A D grade is actually a big improvement somehow.
Lewis was one of only two forwards on the team to post CF% and xGF% totals under 50%. As a supposed defensive winger, he ranked last on the team for CA/60 and xGA/60 this quarter.
On offence Lewis posted one goal and four points. His four points ranked tied for eighth on the team among forwards, while his one goal was second last.
Lewis has had a brutal first half of the season and would be better suited as a healthy scratch.
(Q1 Grade: D+)
He ranked last on the team for CF%, xGF%, and HDCF%. He was also the only forward to post totals below 50% in all three metrics. On a team that led the NHL in each metric, to post such terrible numbers is impressive.
He posted just one point this quarter, an assist. His one point ranked ahead of only Ritchie. His six shots at even strength ranked last.
Richardson is not an NHL player, not even close. Here’s hoping he stays out of the lineup for good.
(Q1 Grade: B+)
Noah Hanifin continued to fly under the radar in the second quarter of the season as one of the Flames’ most consistent defencemen.
His CF% of 55.03 actually ranked fifth on the team among defencemen, but his xGF% of 58.59 ranks first as does his HDCF% of 62.96. He also ranked second for xGA/60 at 2.24 behind only Tanev. His HDCF% also ranked fifth in the entire NHL among defencemen in the same time span.
Hanifin was solid offensively this quarter as well with six points and two goals at even strength, both of which ranked first among Flames defencemen. He was also second on the team for even strength shots from the blueline with 35.
Hanifin may not grab many headlines, but he’s currently playing the best hockey of his Flames career and is an integral part of the Flames’ defence corps.
(Q1 Grade: B-)
Never did I expect Nikita Zadorov to grade out as one of the best Flames’ defenders in any quarter of this season. However Zadorov was surprisingly solid over the past 21 games.
Zadorov led all Flames defencemen in CF% and xGF% at 61.08 and 58.59 respectively. His HDCF% was also impressive, coming in at 61.37 which ranked second behind only Hanifin. His CF% was actually second across the entire NHL among defencemen in the second quarter.
Zadorov even chipped in offensively this quarter, posting five points and one goal at even strength. Both were tied for second on the team for defencemen.
After a tough start to the year, Zadorov actually had a decent second quarter and played some solid low-event hockey. I’m sure his numbers are inflated by playing sheltered minutes on the league’s top possession team, but they are impressive nonetheless.
(Q1 Grade: B+)
Chris Tanev will never get the full respect he deserves when it comes to offensive report cards, but he still grades out nicely in the second quarter.
Tanev ranked third among defencemen for CF% at 56.47, third for xGF% at 58.31, and fifth for HDCF% at 56.81. His xGA/60 of 2.07 was first among Flames defenders as was his GF% of 61.09
Tanev actually tied for second on the team for both points, assists and goals at even strength this quarter as he posted five points and one goal to go along with four assists. His three primary assists were tied for first.
Tanev continues to play some incredibly solid hockey for the Flames and is one of the teams most important players. It’s not included in this quarter’s report cards, but he kicked off the third quarter with a four-point night.
(Q1 Grade: A+)
After an insane start to the season, Oliver Kylington regressed slightly this quarter but was still very solid for most of the quarter.
His CF% of 55.37 ranked fourth among Flames defenders, while his xGF% and HDCF% actually both ranked last on the team among defencemen at 54.52 and 53.93. That said his GF% of 60.44 ranked second as his pairing with Tanev was the only one to post a GF% over 45% on the team.
Offensively Klyington took a big step back but was still solid. After posting 11 even strength points last quarter he posted five this quarter which still tied for second on the team behind only Hanifin. His 39 shots at even strength led all Flames blueliners, as did his six high-danger chances.
Kylington has been a revelation this season. Even if his second quarter wasn’t as good as his first, he’s still playing like a legitimate top-four defenceman for the Flames.
(Q1 Grade: B-)
Rasmus Andersson grades out very similar to his first quarter, which isn’t a bad thing. After a terrible 2020–21 season, it’s nice to see him string together half a season of consistent play.
Andersson ranked last among Flames defencemen for CF% at 53.78, but fourth for xGF% at 56.58, and third for HDCF% at 60.76.
His five even strength points were tied for second on the team for defenders, although he was the only regular Flames defenceman to not score a goal at even strength this quarter. His shot generation also continues to be subpar, as he ranked second last ahead of only Chris Tanev for even strength shots and iCF.
Andersson was once again solid albeit unspectacular this quarter. Anything is an upgrade over his previous season though.
(Q1 Grade: C)
After finishing as the team’s lowest graded defenceman last quarter, Erik Gudbranson sits in the same spot in the second quarter although with a better grade. His underlying numbers saw a huge boost this quarter which helped.
Gudbranson ranked second among Flames defencemen for CF% at 60.05, fifth for xGF% at 56.54, and fourth for HDCF% at 59.19. His CF% ranked fifth in the entire league for defencemen. He did however rank last for xGA/60 on the Flames.
Points-wise, Gudbranson was last with four points at even strength by Flames defencemen. He did finish tied for second for even strength shots with 35, and third for iCF at 71.
Gudbranson is nothing more than a number six defencemen, however his second quarter of the season was surprisingly solid.
A great first half
The Flames may have struggled at times during the second quarter of their season, however the team continues to put up elite underlying numbers. As long as the team continues to put up the same type of numbers, they will have success. The goal for the Flames third quarter should be to add some scoring depth at the trade deadline.