It was no surprise that November closed out by means of not one, but two third period Calgary Flames comebacks. First by means of a 2-1 MacKenzie Weegar coast-to-coast winner and the second on the backs of media lightning rods Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri. The fact of the matter is that the Calgary Flames have had a truly bizarre November.
Their numbers for example, an 8-4-2 record, an 8th place point percentage at .643 and a 7.3% power play that broke even in terms of goals for and against.
Strange, but it gets stranger.
Staying in It
Calgary trailed by one goal or more to start the third period in ten of their 14 games. Despite proverbially shooting themselves in the foot with such frequency, the team put up a 4-4-2 record and a .400 win percentage under those circumstances.
Let’s step back and put this into perspective.
Last season the Flames went 2-18-4 when trailing after 40 minutes for a .083 points percentage. The historically successful 65-12-5, 2022-23 Boston Bruins achieved eight of their 12 regulation losses under those circumstances.
The league average in 2022-2023 for wins after entering the third period trailing by one or more goals in 2022-2023 was 4.46. With four on the month, the Flames nearly met that mark in just 14 November games. Head Coach Ryan Huska on the Flames’ ability to stay in it.
“Well, they believe they’re always in games. That’s one thing.”
Huska went on to point out that comebacks aren’t the goal this season for the Flames. After all, Calgary went 4-0-0 on the month when finishing the second or first period with a tie or a lead.
“We want to play with the lead more so. We’d like to flip that script a little and hold on to leads, but I do think they have a belief in how we’re trying to play the game a little bit now. Cause, hey, every game is not gonna go the way you want for a full 60 minutes. “
A .400 winning percentage when ending the second period down a goal indeed seems unsustainable. The Bruins led the league last year in winning percentage under those conditions at .313 – primarily due to the lack of instances they found themselves in that scenario.
The President’s Trophy winning 2021-22 Panthers gleaned out 11 wins over 82 (.393) under those conditions. The next closest that season were the Columbus Blue Jackets who needed 37 attempts to get nine third period comeback wins.
Since 2013-2014, the only team to post a .400 or better points percentage over a whole season after starting the third trailing in the score was the 2018-2019 Tampa Bay Lightning, who secured a 9-12-0 record (.429) and ultimately finished 62-16-4. Good for a 21-point lead over second place, the Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins, who were tied at 107 points.
Calgary has been oddly consistent in their goal differential-by-period trends in November. Over 14 games, the team generally starts slow. They finished the month outscored 11-19 in the first period.
It seems that they find their bearings and figure out both sides of their game during the second period. 14-15 in scoring in that stanza.
By the third? Things were in full motion. They came full circle from the first period and outscored the opposition 21-8.
For now, it appears comeback hockey is back on the menu in Calgary. While many fans and media dip their beaks looking at potential player departures and how to retool, something truly special is happening inside the Scotiabank Saddledome. Ryan Huska concluded on the subject.
“If you can stick with it knowing that if we do things the right way and we stay competitive and work you’re gonna get a chance to win? They’re gonna keep doing that.”