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Five Mind-Blowing Stats as Flames Become the Nate Diaz of the NHL



Martin Pospisil Flames

Roughly 39 days since the departure of defensive Flames stalwarts Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev, their impact on the team’s ability to steal victories has become all too clear. Obviously, their record isn’t ideal:

Flames Record Post-Hanifin (March 6)

7-12-0 (27th)

A bit more on that span in a moment, but the drop from a .533 points percentage to a .368 is solid enough evidence to support the notion that the Calgary Flames have entered a second chapter in general manager Craig Conroy’s tenure.

That said, there are positives—beacons in the dark, if you will—over this strange span of .368 hockey.

No, seriously. There are some serious positives.


#1: Unapologetic Traders

The number one takeaway from this stretch is that the Flames are really leaning into the Ryan Huska commitment to an exciting brand of hockey.

Much in the style of UFC fighter Nate Diaz, they’re taking a ton of damage when it comes to goals against, but they’re slugging it out until the end.

So far, they’ve been outscored 56-75 without Hanifin and Tanev.

Tied for second last in defence with the last place San Jose Sharks at 3.95 goals against per game. A middling 2.95 (18th place) offence.

You need look no further than Calgary’s top three scorers since Hanifin was traded to get a grasp on the metaphor: Nazem Kadri, Andrei Kuzmenko, and Yegor Sharangovich.

All three have played at around a point-per-game pace – a rarity unseen since the departure of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk.

Production Since March 6:

Kadri: 20pts in 19 games
Kuzmenko: 18pts in 17 games
Sharangovich: 18pts in 19 games

Following the trade of Tyler Toffoli, who had 73 points in 82 games last season, the need for more offence was a major talking point among Flames fans. They got their wish, but the monkey’s paw did its thing. The three are a combined -27 at even strength in chapter two of Conroy’s Flames.

For those who follow the UFC, it’s no secret that Nate Diaz loves to trade blows, and doesn’t always come out of it winner. The only certainty in a Nate Diaz fight is that it will be entertaining.

If you want a better look at Diaz’s style, here is a taste. Blood, violence, and profanity warning.

The Stat:

Three Flames forwards have flirted with a point-per-game pace since Hanifin was traded. They are a combined -27 over that time.


Let’s isolate a bit more and get into some of the crazier individual stats.


The Great Andrei Kuzmenko

Kuzmenko needed a bit of time to adjust. A minor injury and a major bout with illness prevented the Yakutsk native from really taking off when he joined the Flames. Whether he was finally feeling better or simply hammering out how to find chemistry with his linemates, the 28-year-old found another level on March 28 and has surged into a premier offensive talent in the NHL.

Most Points Since March 28 – NHL

Nikita Kucherov: 17
Andrei Kuzmenko: 16
Artemi Panarin: 16

Not bad. How about?

Most Goals Since March 28 – NHL

Auston Matthews: 10
Steven Stamkos: 10
Andrei Kuzmenko: 9

The undrafted Russian has also managed to transform the Flames’ powerplay—kicking and screaming—into the most dangerous group in the NHL—at least for the time being.

The Stat:

Andrei Kuzmenko is currently tied for second place in NHL scoring since March 28.


#3: The Powerplay

Oct 11 – March 28: 14.7 (30th)
March 28 – April 15: 40.9 (1st)

It’s fair to say that offensive coach Marc Savard wants to see Andrei stick around. Interestingly enough, the Flames still haven’t been playing above .500 since the start of Kuzmenko’s hot streak. A 4-5-0 record puts them at a .444 points percentage.


The Stat:

Pretty easy to figure out. 1st is a lot better than 30th place.


#4: The Plus/Minus Anomaly

The fact of the matter when it comes to head coach Ryan Huska getting his team to play a nearly polar opposite style of hockey to what Darryl Sutter had them playing in 2022-2023 is that the transition (no pun intended) is going to be difficult.

Learning when to jump out of the zone defence at the NHL is not easy. So maybe we have a bit of an explanation as to why rookies Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil have made such dire impacts on the team’s success. They don’t have to re-educate themselves on how to jump out of man coverage beyond what Mitch Love had them playing last season. They also aren’t likely to be subject to Darryl-themed night terrors, but those are hard to quantify on a stats sheet.

That said, Martin Pospisil’s hardline speed and dangerous forechecking style appear to fit well into Huska’s system. Among a team with even-strength goal differentials more closely resembling Masters scores, only three players have found themselves in the green in terms of plus/minus post-Tanifin.

Plus Players Since March 6:

Martin Pospisil: +5
AJ Greer: +2
Dryden Hunt: +1

Isolate it to the beginning of Kuzmenko’s rise, and the only consistency is Martin Pospisil.

Plus Players Since March 28:

Martin Pospisil: +6
Walker Duehr: +1
Joel Hanley: +1

There are some fun meta-theories you can attach to that.

Is it a Threat Concept where opposing breakouts work less efficiently with a painful Pospisil body check lurking at every turn? Is it the fact that the 24-year-old is able to clear the neutral zone with blazing efficiency? The answer is surely a grey area, but something that Ryan Huska would love to go into.

The Stat:

In the Post-Hanifin Era, Martin Pospisil (+5) has a +10 even strength goal differential over his most common linemate, Nazem Kadri, who is -5.


#5: The Up and Comer

Amid this awkward stretch of Flames hockey is the even more awkward fact that a few key veterans are playing through this-and-that in terms of injuries.

Blake Coleman will miss Tuesday’s game against the Canucks, but hopes to be healthy enough to finish out the season against the Sharks on Thursday.


Likewise, Andrew Mangiapane is finishing out the season. The veteran winger revealed during a Sept. 10 episode of Mitts Off With Luke Gazdic that he played all of last season with a shoulder injury and got surgery after a precautionary post-season MRI.


That’s just the way it is in the NHL. Almost everyone is playing through something.

That said, it’s not unreasonable to infer that Jacob Markstrom isn’t playing at 100%. The Flames MVP for most of the season has gone nine games without posting a save percentage of .900 or higher. His record is 2-7-0 since the beginning of this current funk, which began on March 4.

Something is simply off, and the sooner this season ends, the sooner Markstrom can get on the right path in terms of getting into form.

Then there is the rookie Dustin Wolf.

The 22-year-old’s save percentage over that same span (since March 4) is .900. His record is above .500 at 5-4-0.

That stretch of time also coincides with when he was brought up to take Daniel Vladar’s place as backup after it was announced that the 6-foot-5 Czech would miss the remainder of the season to recover from hip surgery.

It’s a tough conversation due to the nature of playing through injuries at the NHL level, but it’s undeniable that – for the first time in his career – Dustin Wolf is the Flames best chance in net if they’re going after getting a win. Even if it’s just for a small stretch.

The Stat:

The Flames are 7-13-0 since March 4. Dustin Wolf is 5-4-0 over that span.


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