Just about every question has been asked about the Flames this season and their play. It was then magnified ten-fold when Mark Giordano was injured. They might have an insane 10.9% shooting percentage in the third (at ES) in that stretch and they might be 41.8% CF at ES too. But they’re opportunistic and taking advantage of it while they can.
I calculated those SC wrong. Backlund + Hudler + Gaudreau + Monahan account for 35.75% of the Flames scoring chances since Gio’s injury.
— Mike FAIL (@mikeFAIL) March 20, 2015
One of the more fascinating micro-stats available is scoring chances. They're logged in game data much like everything so we can find ways to examine them in similar ways to possession stats. That said, this isn't measuring the players who are setting up the scoring chances yet. Once more data becomes available on that facet of the play we can get a real gauge for who are successful at setting up scoring chances consistently.
Flames Scoring Chances – ES (Unadjusted) since February 28th
Quick clarification: iSC% of team – Hudler’s 20 iSC (individual scoring chances are 11.173% of the total scoring chances in this nine game stretch)
SCF% Rel – Scoring chances for relative to team. SCF% – Scoring chances for % while on ice. SCF% Off – scoring chances for while off the ice. SC+/- – the differential of scoring chances for/against. Positive = good, negative = more chances against a player. SCF – Count of actual scoring chances for a player while on ice. SCA – scoring chances against a player while on ice. SCF60/SCA60/SCP60 – projecting the chances for, against, and total per 60 minutes played. iSC – Individual scoring chances.
- No surprises you see Jiri Hudler at the tops of the team. The veteran forward has taken his game to the next level this season and has consistently been one of the top forwards on the team.
- Mikael Backlund who I’ll write praise about until my fingers are raw and bloody closely trails Hudler in individual scoring chances. Keep in mind his performance and usage finds him in more defensive zone starts than the top line. He also has two linemates who aren’t strong possession drivers.
- Linemates David Jones and Lance Bouma of the aforementioned Swedish god have been performing incredibly well thanks to the play of Backlund. It should be said that despite the Jones’ giveaway to Getzlaf against the Ducks, he’s played admirably. “Top Six Forward Lance Bouma” has found above-average success on the line too.
- Sean Monahan’s play as a top six centre in his sophomore season has been nothing short of remarkable. He’s being utilized in all ends of the ice but more so in an offensive role rather than his Backlundesque usage earlier this season.
- Johnny Gaudreau’s pursuit of the Calder trophy is insanity at this point, Last night he secured the lead in rookie scoring and has definitely added to the discussion of whether or not he’ll top Aaron Ekblad and Filip Forsberg for the best rookie this season. His ability to set up scoring chances that often lead to goals is arguably his finest ability on the ice.
As we go down the roster we see some surprising numbers outside of Jones and Bouma being in the tops of the Flames in this stretch. Matt Stajan's elevated play since returning has been one of the best parts of this season for the team. Though he is often relegated to babysitting a pugilist and a rookie, he has made our fourth line go from incapable to semi-capable. Much of it on his own.
With TJ Brodie taking on…well carrying Engelland around quite a bit, he's seen a dip in most areas of play. That said, his ability to stretch pass and set up some portions of offense recently cannot be denied. Once more data is available to showcase players who are responsible for setting up scoring chances it will become more clear that TJ Brodie's contract is even more of a bargain that we can imagine.
In this sample size, the Flames have had more scoring chances than a few big teams like Anaheim, Chicago, and New York. Though it should be clear their differential of -55 is among the bottom of the league for this time. Still with that in mind, it could always be worse.
Often the third period is discussed to be Calgary's best period but in this nine game stretch, the first and second periods have been producing slightly better results:
As the playoff push continues and with two points to hopefully secure against Columbus tomorrow, the Flames pursuit towards the post-season is shaping up to be one of the best storylines this season. For fans, writers, and media it's still polarizing. On one hand you have a team defying the odds, on the other you have others enjoying it while being cautious of the situation.
by Mike Pfeil