Round 2 of the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs is now underway and the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers are set to start one of the most anticipated series of the century. Before the first Battle of Alberta of the millennia gets going, we can turn back to the gruelling Round 1 series between the Flames and Dallas Stars.
For a series to go seven games and only feature 29 goals scored is nothing short of mindboggling, and it’s a huge testament to the goaltending of Jake Oettinger and Jacob Markstrom, as well as the defence of both teams. In the end, the Flames scored 15 goals to the Stars’ 14, and it took a Game 7 overtime goal from Johnny Gaudreau to clinch the series.
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To see exactly what transpired on the ice over the seven games, I turned back to a recurring data visualisation series of mine to visualise goals scored by game state and scorer. Let’s see how the series all breaks down.
How to read the goals by game state and scorer charts
In the left column, goals are sorted by game state; in the right column goals are sorted by scorer. Both columns are sorted from the greatest to least number of occurrences, and the right column is secondarily sorted by a player’s first name.
Game states are defined based on the number of skaters on ice, and the colours represent skaters relative to the opponent at the time of the goal. The connections between the left and right columns gives a visual breakdown of a team’s goal scoring tendencies.
The limitation of this data presentation is that it technically omits information on whether a goal was scored with the goalie pulled for the extra skater or on an empty net. However, in most scenarios the skaters on ice would either be 6v5 or 5v6, respectively. Edge cases occur in situations where a player in the penalty box might lead to a pulled goalie situation to be represented as 5v5 as an example. Those goals would be missed in the current method of data presentation, but are rare enough that it doesn’t impact the visualisation.
All data from MoneyPuck.com. Visualisations created with R and modified with Adobe Illustrator. The R “tidyverse” and “ggalluvial” packages were used to create the visualisations. Colour palette adapted from Carto. Click on each image to see the full size visual.
Calgary Flames Round 1 goals by game state and scorer
As mentioned, the Flames scored a total of 15 goals in the opening round of the playoffs. However, one of the goals came from Johnny Gaudreau on a penalty shot, which is not represented by a game state. Therefore, it is omitted from the visualisation.
Of the 14 goals that were scored during game play, here’s how it went for Calgary.
The Flames scored a total of 10 5v5 goals, led by two each from Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund, making them both the highest scorers for the Flames in the series as well. Lindholm had the Flames’ only 5v4 power play goal which happened early in Game 1, coincidentally as the game’s only goal.
Trevor Lewis, Andrew Mangiapane, and Michael Stone all have one 5v5 goal each, with Lewis also scoring the Flames’ empty net goal in Game 5. Rasmus Andersson scored the Flames’ only other power play goal during a 5v3 power play in a crucial Game 4.
Saving the best for last, the trio of Tyler Toffoli, Matthew Tkachuk, and of course Gaudreau had three of the Flames’ most important goals of the modern era, as they all contributed to the Game 7 scoresheet for the Flames to advance.
Dallas Stars Round 1 goals by game state and scorer
The Stars exactly matched the Flames with 14 goals over the series but with a different distribution.
Of their 14 goals, nine game at even strength—eight at 5v5, one at 4v4. Joe Pavelski led the Stars with three goals, followed by Michael Raffl, Roope Hintz, and Tyler Seguin with two goals each. The trio all scored empty net goals, with Raffl and Hintz also picking up 5v5 goals and Seguin converting on a power play with Jake Oettinger pulled late in Game 4.
Jamie Benn, Jason Robertson, Miro Heiskanen and Vladislav Namestnikov all had one goal apiece at 5v5 and Radek Faksa scored the series’ only 4v4 goal, despite the teams playing in 4v4 for over 20 total minutes. The open ice didn’t lead to more goals due to Oettinger and Markstrom being dialled in and making saves at all situations.
Comparing the Flames and Stars
Coincidentally, with both teams scoring 14 goals sans penalty shot goal, it makes for a nice and easy visual comparison. The following charts are identical to the two above, just set side by side for quick observations. In previous iterations for other series, the plots would be scaled to compare total series scoring as well, but this just shows how tight the Flames versus Stars series really was.
It’s seen that the Flames scored slightly more at 5v5, both teams sealed victories with empty net goals, and the penalty kill for both teams were superb, and there was only one successful goal conversion with the extra attacker in the series.
Reflecting on Round 1
This series was a goaltending showdown. With offence coming at a premium, each and every goal mattered. In the end, the Flames came away with one extra goal to move on, which was a fitting end to one of the tightest defensive series that the hockey world can remember.
The Stars took the Flames to seven games which was a total surprise. The adversity in facing the hottest goaltender should bode well for the Flames, and the Stars clearly have a bright future ahead in their crease.
Next up, the Battle of Alberta!