Unless you've been living under a rock this season, you know that the Calgary Flames power play is bad. Like really, really bad. Calgary sits in 30th place in the NHL, dead last in power play percentage. 13.9% to be exact. So, the good news is there's no where to go but up! However, that doesn't seem likely to happen. Evidence? Saturday night's 0-5 showing on the power play against the Oilers, who are only a middle of the pack penalty kill team. And it wasn't like Edmonton shut the Flames down on the PP, they were just bad.
So, that got me thinking, "Is this Flames team on the path to the worst PP% of all time?" To answer that question, we have to know who owns that distinction and place in history. Ladies and gentlemen, your 1997-98 Tampa Bay Lightning! The Bolts finished the 97-98 season with a robust......9.35% on the power play. Yikes! The Lightning scored 33 PPG that season in 353 PPO, so it's not like they weren't getting opportunities to put the puck in the net, they were just horrible on the power play. Not surprisingly, so was their record. Tampa finished 17-55-10, 7th in the Atlantic, and missed the playoffs for the second straight season.
The Flames have already eclipsed the regular season win total (20) of that 97-98 Lightning team and it would take an epic failure for the Flames to drop down to 9.35% on the power play. In 42 games this year, the Flames have 19 goals in 137 PPO. It's no surprise that the #'s are bad, but in their last 10 games, the Flames are 8-38 on the power play and 3 of those goals came in a 5-4 loss to San Jose. Of the 19 goals the Flames have so far, Johnny Gaudreau, Mark Giordano and Sam Bennett have 3 each. Calgary even had a PP in the 3 on 3 overtime against the Oilers on Saturday and it looked like Edmonton was playing with 10 people on the ice.
On the complete other end of the spectrum, the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens own the record for the greatest PP% of all time. During that season the Canadiens scored 73 PPG on 229 PPO giving them a percentage of 31.88 %. The best the Flames have ever done is the 1987-88 team. Calgary scored 109 PPG on 383 PPO giving them a 28.46 %. The 89 Flames Stanley Cup Championship team had a PP% of 24.94 and the 03-04 Stanley Cup Finals team was a very low 15.13% on the power play.
If you look at the franchise from day 1 in Atlanta all the way up to this season, the Flames, for the most part, hover right around the league average. As of right now, if the trend continues for the Flames, they will finish the season with 38 power play goals, which is 10 less than they had last season. It's understandable that if you're only getting 1-2 man up opportunities a game, then your numbers will be down. But when you're getting 4, 5, and even 7 during the course of a game, you have to take advantage of those opportunities. The 0-5 in Edmonton was about as bad as it gets. The Flames were being handed man advantages and they didn't do a thing with them. If the Flames want to get back into the playoff picture they need the power play to start putting pucks in the nets. Maybe this means there needs to be a shakeup on the power play unit (I'm looking at you Dennis Wideman), but whatever it is, when the opposition gives you the man advantage, you have to make them pay. The Flames aren't and they almost seem like they'd be better off if they could just decline the penatly and skate 5 on 5.