The NHL Elite and the surprising Flames

Three of the Flames pictured here were in the top 5 in 5 NHL rankings. Can you name those categories?

This article provoked me to a do a straight line stat review of elite players. Thanks to Justin for highlighting it.

The main question that jumped to mind after reviewing Team Corsi was the Anaheim Ducks, sitting dead last with a Corsi of -779 yet they made the playoffs. The explanation provided was the elite players they have in their roster off-set the lack of depth. 

In reviewing the stat lines, elite performance was making the top five in each category. That should be a very safe cut-off and if anything most would probably want it broadened to include top ten but the gulf between 1st and 10th becomes quite wide. It should certainly suffice that the gap between 1st and 5th is narrow enough that all players are properly called "elite," regarding last season's performance in their respective categories.

How and why did I choose these stats? I simply went to NHL.com, hit the Stats button and individuals tab. From this a summary line includes all the usual fare, G / A / Pts / ( + / - ) / TOI etc. 

Sure enough my hypothesis was confirmed; the Ducks have 7 instances of players in the top 5 in 12 categories. Vancouver lead by miles with 10 instances of various players in the top 5 in the same categories. The Tampa Bay Lightning rounded out the top clubs with elite players with 5 instances.

But then I got a surprise, not something I was expecting at all. The Calgary Flames are actually the club with the third highest number of instances of players in the top 5 of 12 categories with 6 occurrences.

Jarome Iginla 3rd in Goals scored, 5th in Power Play Goals, Mark Giordano 3rd in blocked shots, Alex Tanguay 1st in shootout goals and 4th in shooting % and Jay Bouwmeester 2nd overall in Time on Ice. 

Here is the data drop and I have tidied it up by deleting the various sub-categories of each main stat.  

Points  Player Team  Pos  GP P  ESP  P/G
1 Daniel Sedin  VAN  L 82 104 62 1.27
2 Martin St Louis  TBL  R 82 99 58 1.21
3 Corey Perry  ANA  R 82 98 62 1.2
4 Henrik Sedin  VAN  C 82 94 59 1.15
5 Steven Stamkos  TBL  C 82 91 55 1.11
Goals  Player Team  Pos  GP G  ESG  G/G
1 Corey Perry  ANA  R 82 50 32 0.61
2 Steven Stamkos  TBL  C 82 45 28 0.55
3 Jarome Iginla  CGY  R 82 43 29 0.52
4 Daniel Sedin  VAN  L 82 41 23 0.5
5 Ryan Kesler  VAN  C 82 41 23 0.5
Assists  Player Team  Pos  GP A  ESA  A/G
1 Henrik Sedin  VAN  C 82 75 48 0.91
2 Martin St Louis  TBL  R 82 68 31 0.83
3 Daniel Sedin  VAN  L 82 63 39 0.77
4 Ryan Getzlaf  ANA  C 67 57 37 0.85
5 Henrik Zetterberg  DET  L 80 56 35 0.7
Plus / Minus Player Team  Pos  GP +/-
1 Zdeno Chara  BOS  D 81 33
2 David Backes  STL  R 82 32
3 Kevin Bieksa  VAN  D 66 32
4 Toni Lydman  ANA  D 78 32
  4 players tied with +30        
Faceoffs   Player Team  Pos  GP  Tot FO%
1 David Steckel  NJD  C 75 820 62.3
2 Manny Malhotra  VAN  C 72 1261 61.7
3 Paul Gaustad  BUF  C 81 1158 59.8
4 Zenon Konopka  NYI  C 82 1075 57.7
5 Jarret Stoll  LAK  C 82 1310 57.5
Hits  Player Team  Pos  GP Hits
1 Cal Clutterbuck  MIN  R 76 336
2 Tuomo Ruutu  CAR  C 82 309
3 Dustin Brown  LAK  R 82 300
4 Matt Martin  NYI  L 68 299
5 Troy Brouwer  CHI  R 79 262
Blocked Shots  Player Team  Pos  GP BkS
1 Dan Girardi  NYR  D 80 236
2 Greg Zanon  MIN  D 82 212
3 Mark Giordano  CGY  D 82 193
4 Roman Hamrlik  MTL  D 79 192
5 Francois Beauchemin  ANA  D 81 182
Take Aways  Player Team  Pos  GP TkA
1 Joe Thornton  SJS  C 80 114
2 Jonathan Toews  CHI  C 80 93
3 Dustin Byfuglien  WPG  D 81 85
4 Bryan Little  WPG  C 76 80
5 John Tavares  NYI  C 79 75
Shooting %  Player Team  Pos  GP  S  G %
1 Sergei Kostitsyn  NSH  L 77 93 23 24.7
2 Sidney Crosby  PIT  C 41 161 32 19.9
3 Lauri Korpikoski  PHX  L 79 103 19 18.4
4 Alex Tanguay  CGY  L 79 120 22 18.3
5 David Jones  COL  R 77 153 27 17.6
Power Play  Player Team  Pos  GP PPG
1 Daniel Sedin  VAN  L 82 18
2 Steven Stamkos  TBL  C 82 17
3 Teemu Selanne  ANA  R 73 16
4 Ryan Kesler  VAN  C 82 15
5 Corey Perry  ANA  R 82 14
5 Jarome Iginla  CGY  R 82 14
Time On Ice  Player Team  Pos  GP TOI  ES TOI/G  TOI/G  Shifts  Sft/G
1 Duncan Keith  CHI  D 82  2,204:33  21:15  26:53 2,388 29.1
2 Jay Bouwmeester  CGY  D 82  2,130:56  19:51  25:59 2,554 31.1
3 Shea Weber  NSH  D 82  2,076:09  19:33  25:19 2,374 29
4 Zdeno Chara  BOS  D 81  2,060:13  19:28  25:26 2,371 29.3
5 Joe Corvo  CAR  D 82  2,031:50  18:03  24:46 2,404 29.3
Shootout  Player Team  Pos G  Total: S  S%
1 Alex Tanguay  CGY  L 10 16 62.5
2 Jarret Stoll  LAK  C 9 10 90
3 Radim Vrbata  PHX  R 7 11 63.6
4 Mike Ribeiro  DAL  C 6 10 60
  7 players tied for 5th          

All too often we focus on the Stajans and the Hagmans but it is worth being reminded that the Flames still have 4 elite players who rank in the top 5 in various categories. 

So if Anaheim compensates for its terrible Team Corsi with their elite players and can make the playoffs, why can the Flames not do the same with their considerably better Team Corsi and star players? It is worth noting that the Flames of last year, despite an absolutely horrific start in 2010 played a long period of sustained winning hockey in 2011.

If they had not stumbled so badly in 2010 with losses to the Oilers, the Panthers, the Blue Jackets, the Wild and so forth they would have slipped in. In fact if the Flames had managed to wrangle just 3 extra wins out of a plethora of terrible games from Oct to Dec they would have ended up with a 100 points and 4th place in the West. 

Coulda, woulda, shoulda's don't mean much but it should be perspective that this team's performance in 2011 was at the very least playoff worthy. It is also worth noting that the Flames do have several players that perform at the very top of basic statistical classifications in the NHL.

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