After the Flames' hot start to the season, it's probably a good idea to evaluate their play thus far (okay maybe not but let's do it anyways). In case you were wondering, some notable teams that we're currently ahead of in the standings right now are Boston, Chicago, St. Louis and of course Edmonton.
Let's start off by talking about the man who's arguably the biggest reason to our success so far this season, Jonas Hiller. Despite being on Calgary, he's fourth in the league with a .941 save percentage and fifth in the league with a 1.82 GAA. Not to mention that unreal game against Chicago in which he allowed just one goal on 50 shots.
"We found a way and worked hard and got better the longer the game went. Tonight was probably not our best effort, but we found a way and worked hard and got better the longer the game went."
- Jonas Hiller on his team's play against Chicago, 15/10/14
Hiller was literally the only reason we won that game, after all shot totals and fancy stats don't lie. It wasn't just that game that he stole for us, but throughout all of his wins Hiller faced 182 shots and only seven got past him. It also seems like Jonas Hiller has a slight edge over Ramo after he started his second consecutive game last night against the Canadiens. All in all, our goaltending has been spectacular this season from both Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo.
On a similar note, Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie have been our best players and turning in to one of the most efficient defencemen pairing in the league. The reason I'd rather not say best pairing is because they don't necessarily measure up to the skills that players like Shea Weber or Duncan Keith possess and chances are that they won't get to that level (not saying I would mind if they did). Nonetheless, they have been playing great as of late and can compete with the tough matchups that are given to them.
The duo combines for 23 points in 13 games, even though Giordano sits at 16th in even-strength offensive zone starts among the Flames and Brodie ranking 18th. Not only that, but Brodie's third in the league in time on ice with 320:30 and Mark Giordano isn't too far behind in fourth place with 309:22. It proves how much coach Hartley trusts Giordano and Brodie by putting them on the ice for so long. Some people say that Brodie's "feeding" off of Giordano which makes no sense because he plays slightly higher minutes than him. Brodie is still learning from his small mistakes, but his success isn't the product of him being paired with Giordano.
Now let's move onto our offense, which we had a lot of last night and it helped boost our goals per game from 2.5 to 2.77. Compared to the entire league Calgary's only a little bit above average, but the Flames rank fifth in that same category among the Western Conference teams. Luckily we have Mason Raymond who's helping us score more, well at least for as long as he's healthy. Of the ten games Raymond's played in his five goals account for 24% of Calgary's goals.
Three of his five goals came in Calgary's 5-2 win over Edmonton and he has seven points in total. So far he's been one of Calgary's most efficient players and could be categorized in a group similar to Jonas Hiller, Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie. Will he keep producing at this rate once he's healthy? Most likely not, chances are there won't be anyone on the Flames that will get to the 70-point plateau let alone Mason Raymond. That being said, we can still expect for him to have a good season and somewhat fill the gap in the lineup after Cammaleri's departure.
From Mason Raymond and offense to truculence, why not? After the signings and moves in the off-season to get tough guys to make sure our kids don't get squashed I'm sure everyone's dying to know how it's worked out.
Let's start by looking at what happened last season; Calgary had 36 major penalties and averaged 10.5 penalty minutes per game. This season, they only have three major penalties in 13 games and currently average 10.2 penalty minutes. So is all the truculence really doing anything at all? And if it isn't then I guess we really didn't need it after all. If that's not enough, then I'm sure we all remember Deryk Engelland's drop pass to Joel Ward last week...
Thankfully, there are some improvements in defensive stats that may or may not be a result of the truculence. The Flames averaged 17.7 blocked shots last season whereas this season they average 19.23 blocked shots per game. That too with Ladislav Smid and Deryk Engelland ranking fifth and sixth in blocked shots on the team. The top four shot blockers are Mark Giordano, Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman and TJ Brodie.
However, there is a small downgrade in the hits department this season with an average of 19.69 hits per game compared to last season's 20.06. They may seem like small upgrades and downgrades, but it still affects the team and can be a benefit or a drawback for Calgary.
How do you guys think the Flames are doing right now and how much longer do you think they can continue their impressive start? Will they somehow squeak into the playoffs or are they just hot right now? Let us know what you think in the poll or in the comments.