Matthew Tkachuk probably won't hit his bonuses and that's great

Ryan Pike
January 12 2017 02:00PM

Let's get a simple fact out of the way right out of the gates: Matthew Tkachuk is a really good hockey player. The 19-year-old was selected by the Calgary Flames in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft. He made the team out of camp and he's found a home on the left side of Calgary's top line with Michael Frolik and Mikael Backlund.

As a rookie on his entry-level contract, Tkachuk's success could potentially cause some future salary cap headaches for the Flames. Entry-level players are eligible for performance bonuses (which are added at the end of the season if they're reached) and the Flames are actually running $630,000 short on this year's cap because of all the bonuses they paid out last season to guys like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.

If you're beginning to feel a bit worried about the cap, please don't be. The particularities of this season's rookie class will probably prevent Tkachuk from hitting a lot of his bonuses.

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Calgary's individual Corsi differentials are a mixed bag

Ryan Pike
January 02 2017 02:00PM

If you've been reading this site for very long, you've probably figured out that we value shot metrics like Corsi in evaluating players. That's because goals are rare in hockey and to determine how much a player actually drives play – and helps their team win – we have to rely on more common events like shots, missed shots and blocked shots (otherwise known as Corsi events).

One simple way of looking at a player's performance is through their Corsi differential: subtracting their on-ice Corsi events against from their Corsi events for at five-on-five. We've collected Corsi differentials for most of the Flames regulars for each of the past three seasons, along with their offensive zone start percentages to give some context to their numbers.

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Calgary's special teams are covering up some uninspired even strength play

Ryan Pike
December 23 2016 10:00AM

Back in mid-November, the Calgary Flames went back to basics. They began to play a tight-checking, road style of hockey even before Johnny Gaudreau was injured (but ironically really started to embrace that grinding style in the same game he broke a finger in on Nov. 15). That simplistic "box 'em out" style of play really helped them survive Gaudreau's absence.

When I looked at Calgary's underlying numbers since Nov. 15, two things jumped out at me:

  • Man, their special teams are a lot better than they were (in terms of on-ice results).
  • Holy cow, they're lucky their special teams are a lot better because they're not generating very much at all at even strength.

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Looking at the Calgary Flames' expected goals and saves

Ryan Pike
December 15 2016 02:00PM

The past is a great predictor of the future. When we examine National Hockey League shooters and goaltenders, their past performance is a good indicator - barring for miraculous collapses or improvements - of their future performance levels. Career shooting and save percentages can be used to provide high-level estimates of a skater's production level and a goaltender's overall performance.

Now that we have 32 games of the 2016-17 Calgary Flames to examine, let's take a glance at their performance - both in net and putting pucks in 'em - based on expected goals and saves.

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Looking at the Calgary Flames' improving special teams

Ryan Pike
December 13 2016 02:00PM

When the season began, the Calgary Flames had a problem. A big problem. Their power play was powerless. In short? It was awful. It took them 22 games to score seven power play goals. For comparison's sake, they have seven power play goals through five games in December.

Prior to Saturday's Flames game against Winnipeg, head coach Glen Gulutzan had a simple assessment of what's different with the power play's recent success:

It's confidence, when they start to go in they go in in bunches. Even if you go beyond the four games or back past, we were creating some good chances they just weren't going in. When we look at it, our stats, we haven't created as good of chances, but they're going in. So that's why we're going to try to keep pushing on the power play, so we don't get complacent. But they're just going in right now.

We ran the numbers.

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