Before I get to the "optimism, yay!" portion of my preview series, in which I detail the ways I think the Flames could win this opening round, I figured some links to neutral, third-party type smart-guys would be informative.
First, James Mirtle details the ES, ST and overall goal differentials of the various play-off teams. Calgary places 12th, 11th and 11th out of 16 in each category respectively ('Hawks are 3rd, 7th, 3rd). Those looking for a silver lining will notice that Calgary has the 3rd best ES GF rate in the league (2.13), trailing only Detroit (2.23) and Boston (2.16). So there's that.
Next, Java Geek does his math wizardry over at Hockey Numbers and gives the Flames a 36% chance of coming out of the first round. His analysis:
Kiprosoff (sic) has had a bad season to put it mildly, if he can return to his old form then this series is a lot closer (as you can see from the graphic above).
Finally, the Falconer looks at how each play-off team did against other play-off teams during the season. Prognosis? Negative.
If a team's record versus other playoff teams is a good predictor of the playoffs the Flames and Blues are the teams most in trouble. The Flames in particular tore through the weaker teams in the NHL this year and struggled against many of the better clubs.
If we look at the offensive and defensive numbers we see that the Wings put a nearly identical Goal Differential whether they were facing playoff teams or non playoff teams...But the Ducks, Blues and especially the Flames all loaded up against bad teams and struggled to a some degree against the good ones.
Calgary placed last in the West in terms of GD against play-off clubs in the Falconer's analysis. They were also tied for last in terms of standings points earned against play-off teams (minus the bonus points of OTL or SOW).
If this all sounds familiar, it's because it's disturbingly reminiscent of a post I did a few months ago on Iginla. In it, I found the Captain was doing all his damage against the weak sisters of the league, while getting beat up against stronger opponents:
As you can see, the difference is real and startling: In 21 games against the relatively stronger teams, Iginla has just one goal, 18 points and is a putrid -17. His PPG pace is 0.86, he averages 2.95 shots on net and his SH% is .02!
In stark contrast, Jarome has made hay against the weaker-thans all year: 19 goals, 40 points, +16 and a PPG rate of 1.33, 3.93 shots/game and a SH% of 0.16.
I haven't done a follow up to see if that trend continued, but, considering the Falconer's findings, one can guess that it didn't exactly reverse itself in the latter half of the year.
I know, I know...this is all fairly depressing. We'll try to get to the good stuff before people start flinging themselves off tall buildings 'round these parts...