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Calgary Flames

Just Another Tale Ending in Tears and Shinpads




A few weeks back, Vic Ferrari at Irreverent Oiler Fans got his playershots script (aka the Daniel and Henrik) working for this season's data. It allows you to look at season shot and Corsi totals for players at EV, as well as creating combinations of players to see how they do when grouped (which is where the D and H part kicks in).

Another function it has is that it creates team totals, and once it was up and running, I thought I'd take a look at a few things. One of the first items I noticed was that Calgary's shot/Corsi ratio looked to be about 50%. Now right around that time in late December, the Flames had won a game in Edmonton despite getting 18 shots blocked at EV, and most of us had seen that sort of thing cropping up in other games, particularly versus the Avalanche. 

With that in mind, it got me wondering if this was the sort of thing that all teams were dealing with, or were the Flames some sort of exception? I did note with some interest that the Sportsnet crew mentioned the Flames spent a portion of Saturday's practice in Anaheim specifically working on hitting the net with their shots.

So, I decided to look at the other Western Conference teams' shot/Corsi ratios in the hope of seeing if there was some sort of pattern, and where Calgary fit within it. I'm about to the point where I regard the differences between the two Conferences in the same manner I used to regard those between the two baseball leagues back in the 70s and early 80s, with the Western Conference in the role of the National League of that era. If someone wants to look at the East or the league as a whole, have at it.

Before we get into the data, a bit of housekeeping. First, as per all Corsi related conversations, all data is at EV only. Second, I was mindful of a post Vic did last year that suggested that the Flames' official scorer was cruel but fair. In other words, the Flames' scorer tended to mark a smaller percentage of attempted shots as actual shots on goal compared to other arena scorers, but that person appeared to look at the opposition's shooting in an equal manner. No home cooking, if you will. With that in mind, I reviewed the Flames' road data separately to ensure that they weren't being unfairly assessed, and I'll discuss those numbers as well as we move on. Finally, all data is for games through the 19th of January.


So, let's get to the meat of this deal, and remember that Corsi is simply the total for all attempted shots, including misses and blocks.

Team SOG Corsi %
CBJ 1185 2029 58.4
COL 964 1684 57.2
CHI 1315 2315 56.7
ANA 1081 1916 56.4
DAL 1192 2124 56.1
LA 1068 1960 54.5
SJ 1230 2261 54.4
EDM 1099 2023 54.3
VAN 1092 2019 54.1
DET 1201 2234 53.8
PHX 1187 2214 53.6
MIN 1072 2019 53.1
NSH 1136 2144 53
STL 1066 2011 53
CGY 1106 2192 50.5



Surprising, I know.


The low rate isn't something to sneeze at, IMO. If the Flames were merely at the median level of 54.3%, they'd have an extra 84 SOG. Considering Calgary's 8.0 EV SH %, that's worth 6 extra goals, or 2 extra points by the conventional wisdom, which, looking at the current WC standings, might not be a bad thing at all.


So, where is the shortfall coming from? It isn't really from missing the net, despite what the team might have chosen for a practice exercise over the weekend:


COL 1698 371 22
ANA 1916 422 22
LA 1960 436 22.2
DAL 2124 495 23.3
MIN 2019 477 23.6
CBJ 2029 480 23.7
STL 2011 479 23.8
CHI 2315 554 23.9
DET 2234 537 24.0
NSH 2144 516 24.1
VAN 2019 490 24.3
SJ 2261 558 24.7
EDM 2023 499 24.7
PHX 2214 557 25.2
CGY 2192 595 27.1

Holy Mackerel, we’ve got a lot of blocked shots. (/KLowe’d)

Again, if the Flames simply operated at the median level of 23.9%, they would have had only 524 shots blocked, or 71 fewer than they currently have. Bearing in mind that they were about 84 shots off the median altogether, I think we can see where the issue lies. What must add to the frustration of the paying patrons, they’re actually worse in Calgary, with 28% of all their attempts being blocked.

Head to head, the Flames allow 53.4% of attempts against to reach the net, which isn’t bad, really. That’s 4th conference wide, and the Flames have blocked over 500 shots themselves. You’ll be astonished to know that the greatest positive percentage differential belongs to Colorado, since they allow only 52.4% of shots through. They block 27.5% of all shots attempted against them, so they don’t just do it in Calgary. I do use the word “allow” advisedly, since misses are part of that equation, of course.

I don’t think I’ve been shy about the fact that I think the Flames often make life easy for opposition defenders and goaltenders. They struggle at times with changing the point of attack, both at EV and on the PP, and as a result, it often looks as if every goalie they play is always square to the shooters and every defender is perfectly placed in the shooting lanes. My question would be, if they don’t have to move laterally to combat puck and player movement, why wouldn’t they look that way? The day that the Flames fix that problem is the day when we’ll see fewer blocked shots against, and I’d suspect, more consistent production. Whether that’s a style matter or a personnel issue is something I’ll leave as an exercise for the reader.

by Robert Cleave