Calgary Flames

Comparing the Calgary Flames’ record when their top scorers score in 2022–23 versus 2021–22

The Calgary Flames haven’t looked the same since the departures of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. Going from the top of the food chain to being an incredibly mid team, the Flames just simply don’t have the same x-factor in their game as they did last year.

All the highs of 2021–22 have been disastrously paralleled with low after low in 2022–23. Perhaps there’s no bigger low than the Flames star players not playing like star players. Of course, the new core consisting of Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, and MacKenzie Weegar still has every reason worth being excited about. The talent is there, it’s just the results that are not.

The Flames’ record when their top scorers score

Sportsnet Stats tweeted a stat that was worth following up on. Over the Flames’ 67 games this season, Huberdeau has played in 64 while Kadri has played in all. Of those 64 games where both players were rostered, the Flames results have greatly varied depending on the performances of both players.

The way Sportsnet broke it down, the records were split based on when both players record zero points, both record at least one point, or both record at least two points. For readability, Calgary’s records in these situations are as follows:

Kadri and Huberdeau both score:Flames RecordPoints Percentage
0 points3–15–220.0%
1+ points16–3–577.1%
2+ points6–0–0100.0%

Obviously, as both players score more points, the Flames’ record gets better. That part isn’t even necessarily tied to these two players—when any team sees multiple players with multi-point games, they’re more likely to win anyway. However, what’s stark with the Flames is how desolate things become when both Huberdeau and Kadri stay off the score sheet.

What’s worse is how often it happens. In 67 games, there have been 20 games in which both of them were held without a point. That’s 29.9% of their games. If your points percentage in these situations is a mere 20.0% and the Flames are seeing this happen three out of every 10 games, it’s just not a recipe for success.

When the duo score together, things immediately look better to a much more respectable manner. As long as both Huberdeau and Kadri record at least one point, the Flames are downright dominant. You can see right there that this disparity is a huge reason why—granted, it’s one of many—the Flames are battling for a wild card spot rather than for home ice at this point in the year.

Looking at the Flames of 2021–22

Well, not to arbitrarily pick to players from last season (this is sarcasm), but Gaudreau and Tkachuk are the exact two players to compare to. Just how did last year’s Flames do based on the when this duo made or didn’t make it onto the scoresheet? Here are the records for the same situations:

Gaudreau and Tkachuk both score:Flames RecordPoints Percentage
0 points2–7–227.3%
1+ points39–10–278.4%
2+ points16–1–094.1%

Last year, due to the Flames were able to ice Gaudreau and Tkachuk for all 82 games. At first glance, the performance differences is immediate. Over 82 games, Gaudreau and Tkachuk were held to zero points just 11 times in total, or 13.4% of the time. It happened far less frequently than it has been this year. This makes sense with they were 115-point and 104-point players, respectively.

The points percentage between the two years isn’t all too different. However, in situations that both Gaudreau and Tkachuk were pointless, the Flames were still capturing over a quarter of the points available, and they were able to avoid this situation much, much more often than not.

When they both scored at least one point their points percentage is nearly identical to when Huberdeau and Kadri both score at least one point, but the difference is the frequency. Last year’s duo both made it onto the scoresheet in the same game 51 times. So far, Huberdeau and Kadri have only done so 24 times. Yes, there are still 15 games remaining, but games where both Kadri and Huberdeau score are just far too infrequent.

The Flames need to get the top guys going

The Flames are led in scoring first by Tyler Toffoli, followed by Elias Lindholm. Then you have Kadri third, and Huberdeau and Mikael Backlund tied for fifth.

With all due respect to Toffoli and Lindholm—both of whom are having great (but not elite) seasons—the Flames are really waiting for Huberdeau and Kadri to elevate from below expectations to elite status. The latter two really do need to be playing at at a point-per-game pace, and they really do need to do so game in and game out.

Whether this can happen in the final handful of games or not could end up being a critical factor that determines the Flames’ fate on whether they make the playoffs.

It’s now or never for the Flames, it’s now or never for Huberdeau and Kadri.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

Back to top button