Are the Flames too reliant on special teams for scoring?

Ryan Pike
January 31 2017 10:00AM

This season, Calgary Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan has a common refrain in post-game press conferences. Whether his club wins or loses, Gulutzan frequently notes that the key to winning in the National Hockey League is winning the special teams battle.

It's probably no coincidence then that the Flames began their resurgence (and their climb up the Western Conference standings) when their power play began scoring and their penalty kill became more adept at avoiding goals against. It's nice to see, because the Flames have been one of the least potent offensive clubs in the NHL when playing at even strength.

But are the Flames too reliant on special teams for scoring? And which players aren't pulling their weight offensively?

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Handicapping the Flames' awards chances

Ryan Pike
January 30 2017 02:00PM

The National Hockey League's All-Star Break is upon us and as we wait patiently for meaningful hockey to return, we turn our attention to other things. While we've dug into the numbers on a few other things, today we're going to take a quick look at something where numbers may or may not matter: the races for NHL year-end trophies.

More specifically, the three trophies voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association that Calgary Flames players have shots at winning this season.

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The Flames and the next goal: a statistical look

Ryan Pike
January 26 2017 02:00PM

The Calgary Flames haven't played amazingly well as of late and their game results reflect that. They have allowed the first goal in nine consecutive games. That in itself shouldn't be a back-breaker - our pal Garrett Hohl did an analysis of scoring first and conditional probability over at Hockey Graphs to illustrate that - but the Flames for some reason have crumpled when they get down one or (especially) two goals this season.

We dug into the numbers to check out just how challenged the Flames are at coming back from behind.

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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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