Winning eight straight games is no easy task. The Calgary Flames are simply rolling right now and they are winning in dominant fashion, slowly securing their odds of locking in the first seed in the Pacific Division.
The Flames have not had a win streak of this length in quite some time, taking nearly five full calendar years since the last time the team accomplished this feat. That iteration of the Flames is very much different from this one. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and compare the two teams.
Looking back at the 2016–17 Flames
In 2016–17, they won 10 straight games from February 21 through to March 13, 2017. Since then, every win streak by the Flames had been seven games or fewer.
That team that won 10 in a row was coached by Glen Gulutzan, and they ended up fourth in the Pacific Division with 94 points with a 45–33–4 record. Everyone knows all too well how that season ended. The Flames were bounced in the first round at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks, which included the forever controversial high-stick goal by Nate Thompson that led to a Game 3 defeat.
The Flames from 2016–17 weren’t exactly a great team. Turning to NaturalStatTrick.com and looking at 5v5 score-and-venue-adjusted (SVA) stats, here’s how they fared:
They were exceptionally average at best. Even on their ten-game win streak, this is how things went down, again 5v5 SVA, this time just looking at Corsi and expected goals for simplicity:
The 10-game win streak was a hodgepodge of middling results. While looking at 5v5 stats discounts special teams, it gives a much better idea of what type of on-ice product the Flames had. Clearly, there were mixed results. Did they deserve to win 10 games? Maybe not.
Brian Elliott was the starter for all ten wins (and he personally extended his win streak to 12 games—the streak ended with Chad Johnson in net), and was largely credited for his play. Aside from the first and last game of the streak, he allowed two or fewer goals in eight straight games, earning two shutouts along the way.
While it was a complete joy to watch the Flames rack up win after win, that win streak had the Flames defying the odds and was actually a big reason why they made it into the playoffs in the first place.
The 2021–22 Flames are on another level
We’ve covered at length the fact that the Darryl Sutter-led Flames have been analytically dominant, and are not winning games by mistake. If anything, some of their losses saw their opponents being luckier than not.
This year, the Flames are truly playing as a cohesive team and are getting outstanding results. Everything is clicking for this team and it really does have to be credited to Sutter’s coaching.
Looking at the same 5v5 SVA stats as before, this version of the Flames would skate laps around the 2016–17 team:
The Flames are quite literally the best 5v5 team in the league this season, with no room for alternate interpretations.
So how does their current eight-game win streak look? Let’s see:
Other than their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, they have flat out dominated every other team. There’s little fault to put on the Flames for having a poor showing in the second game of a back-to-back set against one of the league’s best teams.
The Saddledome is one of the hardest arenas to play in as a visitor right now and this is good news for the Flames starting the second half of the season. In the first half, their home games were quite limited and their record at home wasn’t exactly inspiring. That’s no longer the case.
With a majority of their games now at home, they’ll look to continue to execute their game plan. They aren’t out of the bushes yet, they’re set to be one of the busiest teams in the league to close out the season.
The Flames are the real deal
Calgary’s putting together a season that’s been unlike any other they’ve had in recent memory.
In every season since 2018–19, there was a collective sense of either accepted dread or very cautious optimism. Even in the preseason this year, things weren’t looking great.
The Flames are proving everyone wrong, and are setting themselves up for a real, legitimate run. A deep run in the playoffs once felt like a longshot, now it’s more of an expectation.
This eight-game win streak wasn’t by mistake. It was by design.