This season has been special, and completely against the laws of Corsi. Advanced stats tell us that the Flames are being outcorsi'd, that players are dragging others' performances down, and that this season should not be happening.
However, there is a set of stats out there that do explain away this season, and do help you understand why the Flames are still in the mix. Does anybody remember basic statistics? They apply. Here, I'm going to highlight the key numbers, and explain why they're important in understanding the run the Flames have found themselves on this year.
2 - Dennis Wideman has done more this year than in his previous 2 in Calgary
In his two years prior to this season, Wideman had 10+33 for 43 points in 92 games for the Flames, along with 30 PIMs, with a +/- of -24. This year, he is already 12+33 for 45, and needs 6 more points in the remaining 13 games to have a career high year. He is also +2 on the season, and has 30 PIMs this year alone. He has had more responsibility this year, and has grown with the role he has been given. He also has two game winning goals, which is double the amount he had in his two previous years.
227 - Number of hits Lance Bouma has landed this seaon
Yes, of course this isn't the main reason that this season has gone so well, but the evolution of Lance Bouma into a pocket-power forward is one of the contributors. You look at him, you don't see a lumbering power forward. But add in 67 blocked shots (we'll probably touch on those later) to his 13+15=28 points, far beating what he's done in his previous 3 NHL years, and you begin to understand just how important Bouma is to this side. He has 3 game winners too. You cannot underestimate his role.
0 - Overall draft pick of Josh Jooris
After an average-at-best season with Abbotsford in the AHL last year, you could have been forgiven for writing the undrafted Jooris off. Then he had the training camp of all training camps, and did enough to justify being looked at when needed. Then he made his debut, and you wondered where he'd been all his life. 21 points, 11 goals, 4 game winners. Jooris was the hero the Flames needed him to be at the start of the season, and he has performed well in whatever role he has been given by Bob Hartley.
27 - Number of goals Sean Monahan has scored
What sophomore slump? Anyone who thought Moneyhands was a flash in the pan and would be found out this year has been left with egg on their face. 27 goals (7 of which have been game winners), 24 assists, 8 powerplay goals, one shorthanded goal, plays PP, PK, 5 on 5, 4 on 4. 17% shot conversion rate. It's pretty much a given he's going to be captain of this team one day right?
1 - Number of injuries this season that has stopped Mikael Backlund from being one of the most talked about centres in the NHL
The guy can do it all, and is getting better year after year. If he'd had a full season, and was collecting points at the rate he has been doing, he'd be looking at a 50 point season too. He's an essential cog in the Flames machine.
86 - Combined points total of Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie
The defence pairing that got the entire NHL talking. Were it not for the season-ending injury, Giordano would have been a Norris candidate, having already had a career-high points total of 48 in his 61 games. Add in the great new hope of TJ Brodie, and his 38 points, and you can see exactly where the foundations of this season are based. It's been a long time since Flames fans had a defensive pairing that excited them, with justifiable reasoning.
6 - Number of seasons it has taken me to be convinced by Matt Stajan
I genuinely never used to see his point. For me, he just seemed to be a waste of a wage, and I couldn't believe it when he was given another contract. That's changed this year though. I don't know whether it's a case of I'm paying more attention to games rather than just being a casual fan, but he contributes so much to the team on all sorts of situations. It's fair to say Matty Franchise has been sold to me.
11 - Number of years Flames fans have been waiting for a line like Gaudreau-Monahan-Hudler
The hype has been there for Johnny Gaudreau since he was drafted in the 4th round in 2011. Monahan was highly touted when being drafted 6th overall in 2013. Who could've guessed that it would take the respected (if not loved) veteran Jiri Hudler to bring the best out of them? Answer: everyone. Flames fans were begging for the line to be put together, and when they were...fireworks. You get the feeling that something special could happen every time they hit the ice, and I honestly believe it is one of the most exciting lines in the NHL. Hudler is having the best year of his career (25+35 in 66 games) and is helping out the young upstarts to incredible effects. While Hudler's stats may well, in all likelihood, drop off in the next couple of years, you can only imagine Gaudreau (already on 53 points in his rookie year, the best since a certain former #12) and Monahan kicking off and getting better.
430 - The amount of times NHL media have told you about Kris Russell's shot block stat
I've mentioned elsewhere about the cult figure status Russell is gaining for his shot-blocking prowess, but that's only half the story. It would have been easy for the Flames to fold after the injury to Giordano. As we have learned this season, this Calgary Flames team does not do things easily. Instead, those who are there have stepped up to the plate. While Papa Huds and his children have been leading the way up top, Wideman and Russell have filled the void left by the captain, even if they're not the ones partnering Brodie. Russell exemplifies leadership on the ice. He's a good focal point of the powerplay, and he plays 100% every time he's out there.
3 - The number of reliable goaltenders the Flames have
Never did I think I would describe Jonas Hiller as reliable. However, he's been just that. He's looked steady and dependable, and when he's had an off night, in has come the very reliable Karri Ramo. Ramo has stood on his head many times this year, and again, when he's had an off night, Hiller has come in and been steady. Then of course, there's the 5 game cameo from Joni Ortio, who looks like the real deal, and is bound to be the future of the Flames netminding. Neither will be up for the Vezina, but considering the last few years when it's been Miikka Kiprusoff or a plastic bag, it's been good to see.
Of course, if the present isn't impressive enough, here's one stat for the future that should get you excited.
6 - Number of picks the Flames have in the first three rounds of the 2015 Entry Draft
Let's see how deep this draft really is. The likelihood is the Flames won't get McDavid, but there's still plenty of talent out there.