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The Calgary Flames have completed 49 games of their 56 game 2020-21 regular season schedule. They’re seven-eighths through through their schedule. They finished their seventh segment still alive, albeit barely, in the playoff race.

Underlying numbers via Natural Stat Trick.

Game by game

(Percentage stats in this table are 5v5.)

Date Opponent Result CF% SC% HDSC% xGF% PP PK
Apr. 14 Canadiens (@) 4-1 W 52.1 57.1 76.5 70.8 0-for-1 2-for-2
Apr. 16 Canadiens (@) 2-1 L 52.6 56.8 58.8 58.4 0-for-2 2-for-2
Apr. 19 Senators (vs) 4-2 L 58.8 58.3 72.7 71.2 0-for-4 1-for-2
Apr. 23 Canadiens (vs) 4-2 W 51.7 68.3 75.0 68.4 1-for-1 1-for-1
Apr. 24 Canadiens (vs) 5-2 W 41.9 40.0 45.5 41.5 0-for-2 3-for-4
Apr. 26 Canadiens (vs) 2-1 L 51.4 51.7 62.5 51.9 1-for-3 2-for-3
Apr. 29 Oilers (@) 3-1 W 53.9 56.4 58.8 53.6 0-for-1 3-for-3
This 7 4-3-0 53.2 56.3 65.4 60.4 2/14 14/17
Last 7 3-4-0 55.6 55.6 50.5 52.5 4/16 15/18

The Flames played six close games and had one definitive win, which combined for four wins and three games where you can argue they could’ve won. That’s a pretty good seven game stretch. As to why they didn’t get the results they hoped for, let’s point the finger at the power play and its’ two goals.

But from an underlying perspective, it’s hard to argue with how the Flames looked. their possession numbers dipped slightly but remained strong, and across the board their meaningful possession stats – chances, high-danger chances, expected goals – were quite strong. Over the 15 days that this segment encapsulated, no team had a higher percentage of their games’ high-danger chances or expected goals than the Flames.

If the Flames can play this way consistently and either (a) get better at finishing chances or (b) add players who are better at finishing, they might be onto something here. The only real disclaimer here is the data is probably somewhat skewed because they played five games against Montreal.

Team stats

Here’s how the Flames compare within the (Scotia NHL) North Division through 49 games:

  • Their goals for per game is 2.65, up from 2.62. They’re sixth in the division.
  • Their goals against per game is 2.84, down from 2.98. They’re fourth in the division.
  • Their goal differential is -9, up from -15. They’re fifth in the division.
  • Their power play is at 19.9%, down from 20.4%. They’re fourth in the division.
  • Their penalty kill is at 80.8%, up from 80.6%. They’re first in the division.
  • They’ve taken 7.9 penalty minutes per game, down from 8.1. They’re fourth in the division.
  • Their 5v5 xGF/60 is 2.19, up from 2.17. They’re fifth in the division.
  • Their 5v5 xGF/60 is 1.97, down from 2.05. They’re second in the division.
  • Their 5v5 xGF is 52.7%, up from 51.5% They’re third in the division.
  • Their 5v5 shooting percentage is 8.01%, up from 7.88%. They’re fourth in the division.
  • Their 5v5 save percentage is 91.51%, up from 91.21%. They’re sixth in the division.
  • Their PDO is 0.995, up from 0.991. They’re fifth in the division.

In the previous segment, the Flames didn’t really improve or regress in these metrics.

In this segment, they improved in a lot of key areas. They generated more offensively and were better at suppressing opposition offense. Their percentages bounced back a bit. Their penalty kill remained the best in Canada. They didn’t dominate across the board by any respect, but they inched along in the right direction.

Player stats

First, the forwards (all situations, ordered by ice time). Last segment’s values in brackets.

Game scores: Positive values indicate positive impact, negative values reflect negative impact.

Player TOI G P P/60 SH% xGF%
GF% OZF% Game score
Lindholm 131:13
(126:45)
6
(3)
7
(7)
3.2
(3.3)
30.0
(14.3)
66.1
(55.7)
75.0
(50.0)
47.1
(50.5)
1.734
(0.573)
Tkachuk 125:52
(112:31)
0
(1)
4
(3)
1.9
(1.6)
0.0
(10.0)
62.7
(55.0)
75.0
(50.0)
56.5
(60.3)
1.337
(0.133)
Backlund 124:30
(101:10)
0
(2)
2
(7)
1.0
(4.2)
0.0
(12.5)
44.0
(49.7)
42.9
(70.0)
39.0
(40.5)
0.427
(1.290)
Gaudreau 118:49
(123:19)
2
(2)
7
(6)
3.5
(2.9)
15.4
(20.0)
62.0
(54.4)
69.2
(70.0)
64.8
(59.3)
1.710
(0.604)
Monahan 115:21
(119:33)
2
(1)
4
(3)
2.1
(1.5)
25.0
(7.1)
61.7
(63.2)
60.0
(50.0)
51.7
(60.0)
0.804
(0.447)
Mangiapane 113:49
(103:55)
1
(3)
4
(5)
2.1
(2.9)
8.3
(27.3)
56.0
(60.1)
60.0
(55.6)
50.6
(61.5)
0.807
(0.947)
Dube 101:21
(65:49)
2
(0)
2
(0)
1.2
(0.0)
20.0
(0.0)
55.1
(56.2)
60.0
(14.3)
39.1
(55.2)
0.667
(-0.390)
Lucic 97:10
(95:51)
2
(0)
3
(3)
1.8
(1.9)
28.6
(0.0)
53.5
(54.7)
62.5
(60.0)
51.5
(45.3)
0.749
(0.499)
Nordstrom 88:22
(95:45)
0
(1)
2
(2)
1.4
(1.3)
0.0
(7.1)
47.0
(44.6)
57.1
(40.0)
46.8
(31.3)
0.467
(0.479)
Ryan 84:33
(86:19)
0
(0)
3
(0)
2.1
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
59.8
(48.9)
66.7
(28.6)
48.8
(53.3)
0.934
(-0.059)
Ritchie 83:55
(89:45)
1
(1)
1
(1)
0.7
(0.7)
12.5
(9.1)
51.7
(46.0)
40.0
(20.0)
50.0
(55.2)
0.191
(-0.036)
Leivo 30:19
(44:58)
1
(1)
1
(1)
2.0
(1.3)
16.7
(20.0)
77.4
(73.8)
33.3
(100)
42.9
(50.0)
0.700
(0.825)
Robinson 20:28
(-)
0
(-)
0
(-)
0.0
(-)
0.0
(-)
59.2
(-)
100
(-)
58.3
(-)
0.350
(-)
Bennett
(80:58)

(1)

(6)

(4.5)

(16.7)

(45.3)

(53.9)

(54.9)

(0.827)

The five most common Flames forward lines were (in descending order):

  • Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk
  • Lucic – Backlund – Nordstrom
  • Dube – Monahan – Mangiapane
  • Dube – Lindholm – Tkachuk
  • Leivo – Ryan – Ritchie

Five regular forwards didn’t score any goals, but everybody but Buddy Robinson got at least one assist. From an all-situations standpoint, two Flames forwards were below 50% in expected goals for (Mikael Backlund and Joakim Nordstrom, who both play the penalty kill). At five-on-five, every single Flames forward was above 50% in expected goals for: Nordstrom was the worst at 50.1%, Josh Leivo was the best at 77.5%.

The forward usage was fairly consistent, aside from some line shuffling and Leivo’s absence due to a COVID-19 positive test, and the results were almost uniformly positive. Backlund was the only regular forward to see a significant drop in his average game score during this period, and his score dropped from being excellent to being merely good.

The only real quibble here is a few players that usually bury their chances – Backlund, Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Tkachuk particularly – not doing so during the past seven games.

Now, the defence (all situations, ordered by ice time):

Player TOI G P P/60 SH% xGF%
GF% OZF% Game score
Giordano 174:00
(162:27)
1
(2)
3
(5)
1.0
(1.9)
14.3
(14.3)
61.1
(53.1)
69.2
(52.9)
45.8
(42.9)
1.206
(0.580)
Tanev 161:39
(142:25)
0
(0)
3
(1)
1.1
(0.4)
0.0
(0.0)
58.6
(43.1)
53.9
(37.5)
34.2
(37.5)
1.203
(-0.044)
Andersson 149:34
(147:45)
1
(0)
3
(0)
1.2
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
59.2
(50.2)
70.0
(58.3)
57.3
(59.3)
1.339
(0.051)
Stone 108:55
(114:00)
0
(1)
1
(1)
0.6
(0.5)
8.3
(8.3)
49.7
(43.4)
50.0
(41.7)
52.3
(47.2)
0.503
(0.159)
Valimaki 100:10
(43:58)
0
(1)
0
(2)
0.0
(2.7)
33.3
(33.3)
57.9
(46.6)
57.1
(57.1)
59.6
(60.0)
0.576
(0.727)
Hanifin 87:24
(150:48)
1
(0)
2
(3)
1.4
(1.2)
0.0
(0.0)
50.8
(49.7)
41.7
(38.5)
43.3
(53.6)
0.888
(0.004)
Nesterov 47:19
(65:25)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
39.8
(57.5)
100
(50.0)
40.0
(53.5)
0.700
(0.435)

The three most common defensive pairings were (in descending order):

  • Giordano & Tanev
  • Stone & Valimaki
  • Hanifin & Andersson

With Noah Hanifin getting hurt, the pairs shuffled a little but largely stayed the same. As with the forwards, the news here is largely good as most players had good results and improvement over the prior seven games. Nikita Nesterov and Michael Stone’s overall expected goals percentages are likely due to PK time, as at five-on-five everybody’s results were north of 50%. (Nesterov was the lowest at 52.9%, Mark Giordano was the best at 62.6%.)

xGF% 5v5, Nesterov worst at 52.9%, Giordano best at 62.6%.

And finally, goalies (all situations):

Player TOI SV% ldSV% mdSV% hdSV% Game score
Markstrom 415:25
(277:25)
.925
(.884)
.964
(1.000)
.913
(.861)
.842
(.690)
-0.117
(-0.764)
Rittich
(136:03)

(.883)

(1.000)

(.810)

(.824)

(-0.733)

Jacob Markstrom played every game this segment, and played every second aside from rushing to the bench for the extra attacker. Luckily for the Flames, he improved a lot from the prior segment. He had a slight dip in his low-danger save percentage, but was significantly improved otherwise.

Louis Domingue played zero minutes but backed up for every game and kept posting his cool YouTube baking videos.


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