Three straight games with multi-goal leads. Three straight games in which the Flames blew those leads.
According to Kent Wilson's scoring chance counts, here are the total ES chances for and against, by period, over the last three games.
1st Period +3
2nd Period +3
3rd Period -9
It's no surprise that the Flames had leads and it's also no surprise that they lost them. While a bit of luck helped them build bigger leads than they may have deserved, a bit of luck can also make those leads disappear just as quickly.
More after the jump.....
Weekly Player Spotlight
"I appreciate that Lemon, but if you ever speak ill of Reagan again, I'll smack those teeth straight"- Jack Donaghy, 30 Rock
I generally think of Jarome Iginla like Jack thinks of Reagan, as untouchable. Unfortunately, Iggy is quickly losing that mystique in Calgary. He's still a very good player and a definite offensive weapon, but the media, and possibly his coach are questioning his value. The conventional wisdom has always been that Iggy has needed better talent on his line.
So far, the Flames "top line" of Iginla, Tanguay and Stajan has not had to face the opposition's best, that task has fallen to the Hagman-Bourque-Jokinen line. HBJ has suffered for this assignment in their possession stats, but have come out OK largely due to a few lucky bounces.
So has the top line taken advantage of the easier competition? Sort of.
Take a look at this comparison of the underlying stats for the Flames top set of forwards through 11 games.
All three players are strongly in the positive in possession, and they're all scoring at a rate comparable to any top line in the league.
The criticism leveled at Iginla, however, is fair in some ways. Looking at his Relative +/-, he's no further ahead than any other player on the Flames despite his solid scoring rate and top-notch linemates. He's also turning the puck over way too often (T-G ratio) for an elite player. And it's likely not his level of competition given that Stajan and Tanguay are the top two players on the team in this metric.
Despite all this, Jarome's goal production is likely to pick up. His current shooting percentage (5.3%) is well below his career average of 13.1% and he's sporting a PDO well below the norm, meaning a few bounces are bound to go his way.
As a few losses mount, the face of the franchise is bound to take some criticism, but it's likely going to be short lived.
Bonfires and Pilot Lights (best & worst)
We're an eighth of the way through the season, and we can probably at least start trusting the order of things on the squad, even if the absolute value of some of stats can be skewed a bit due to small sample size. Click on the table to make it larger.
Despite lighting up the scoreboard, Rene Bourque is riding his luck a bit at the moment. He's completely underwater in the possession (Corsi) game. His goals are coming from a shooting percentage well above his career average despite the fact that he's taking a lot of outside shots (avg shooting distance). I wouldn't expect his astronomic goal rate to continue.
Steve Staios has the worst penalty differential on the Flames by a mile. He takes 2.5 penalties per 60 minutes more than he draws. The next closest is Jay Bouwmeester at -1.
The second power play unit has been dramatically more effective than the first unit. That's not to say that Hagman, Morrison and Giordano are that great with the extra man, it's more an indicator of how inept the Iginla-Stajan-Tanguay-Bouwmeester-White unit has been. They have started to move the puck with much more fluidity, but the results just haven't been there yet. There's a reason the PP is ranked 29th in the league.
In a short period of time, Cory Sarich has made a great case why he needs to be in the lineup. Leading all Flames d-men in Corsi/60, Relative +/- and ES Pts/60 is all you can ask of a player in his position.
Goaltending is still an area of concern. With neither player over 90% in the save department, the Flames will need to continue outshooting their opponents badly. Kiprusoff's career rate is much higher, so he's likely to pick up his performance.
Here is how the Flames are doing as a team overall.
It's hard to ride a good penalty kill to victories without a lead to protect in the first place. Despite outshooting opponents, the Flames are still in the hole at Even Strength and they're not scaring anyone with their power play.
The Flames host Detroit on Wednesday and then go on the road to Minnesota on Friday.
Despite being one of the only teams in the NHL that can rival the Flames for average player age, the Red Wings are at the other end of the talent spectrum.
However, the Flames may be catching the Wings at the right time, as they rank 16th in the NHL in Even Strength +/- and 11th on the power play.
Gabe Desjardins had an interesting article at Behind The Net this week on the effectiveness of the Wild's defensive system at limiting shot quality.
The Wild also have the league's best 5-on-4 power play with a rate of +12.2 goals per 60 min, meaning that it's almost 6 times as effective as the Flames' same unit. The Flames better keep Staios on the bench for this matchup.
Tom Awad's latest installment on "Good Players" is focused on defensemen. One of the key learnings is that good forwards drive results more than good defensemen. That isn't great news for a team that just locked up another blueliner to a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal. My analysis on Giordano's deal can be found here.