The 5–1–0 start is a best for the Calgary Flames franchise. The fact that they’ve beaten the Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Vegas Golden Knights, Carolina Hurricanes, and most recently the Pittsburgh Penguins with new core players is truly fantastic.
Many figured it would take a while for the new pieces to gel into Calgary’s systems. There certainly has been some learning for the new players, and the Flames haven’t been remarkable by any means, yet they are still 5-1–0. That alone is very impressive, but digging into some deeper statistics makes it even more outstanding.
Strength of schedule from PowerRankingsGuru
The graphic below, courtesy of PowerRankingsGuru.com, ranks teams and then ranks teams based on how hard their competition has been. The “Guru Rank” demonstrates what rank has been given to the Flames by this website. As you can see, the Flames find themselves in third place in the “Guru Rank”, while the Avalanche and Hurricanes placed first and second, respectively.
A deeper red demonstrates a more difficult schedule faced so far, while a deeper green represents easier schedules. As you can see, the Flames have played the hardest schedule, playing opponents with an average rank of 8.83. The New Jersey Devils have played the easiest schedule so far, playing opponents with an average rank of 24.11.
This chart helps to demonstrate just how great of a start the Flames have had. The only team that the Flames have played in which Guru ranks below 10th place is the Sabres (22nd overall), which is ironically the only loss so far. The teams the Flames have beaten are ranked 1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th, and 10th.
What this means for the Flames
Not only is having a 5–1–0 record against these highly ranked teams very impressive, but it also means the Flames have an easier path moving forward. PowerRankingsGuru discloses that the Flames now have the easiest schedule in the league, facing teams with an average rank of 18.00. The team will have to show up to those games against easier opponents, but they are mathematically favoured going into these games.
It certainly helps that they are in a Pacific Division which features the Sharks, Canucks, and Ducks, who definitely haven’t gotten off to good starts. It is also worth noting that both the Oilers and Golden Knights have easier schedules for the rest of the year as well, so the battle of the Pacific Division is far from over.
The Flames have gotten off to a fantastic start while facing the hardest schedule in the league thus far. In doing so, they have given themselves a great start, and now they have an advantage over other teams. That advantage? Having the easiest schedule going forward, with lots of games left against teams categorized as rebuilders.
There is a ton to look forward to as a Flames fan right now, and digging into deeper metrics and mathematics only further cements the excitement around this team.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire