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Seven Game Segments: Part Five

A look back at games 29 through 35.

Vancouver Canucks v Calgary Flames Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

Over the course of this segment the Flames hit a season high winning streak of six games, continue to showcase a disturbing trend, finally make their first in game goalie change of the season and still managed to put together another winning segment.

December 6, 2016

Game Twenty Nine: Away vs Dallas Stars

Win: 2-1

1-0-0

Starter: Chad Johnson

PDO CF% SCF% SV% SH% PP% PK%
102.82 40.82 46.67 96.15 6.67 50 100

Chad Johnson stood tall and helped the Flames take down the Stars despite a pretty large deficit in both the possession and scoring chance departments. An even strength goal and a power play marker combined with another perfect penalty kill puts another one in the win column for the Flames.

While it’s nice to see that the Flames special teams remain alive and well, this drop off in even strength scoring is somewhat concerning.

Game Recap

December 8, 2016

Game Thirty: Away vs Arizona Coyotes

Win: 2-1 OT

2-0-0

Starter: Chad Johnson

PDO CF% SCF% SV% SH% PP% PK%
94.74 49.48 54.55 94.74 0 25 100

The first thing that stands out to me is that zero in the 5v5 even strength scoring. While I’m happy to finally be able to stop harping on the Flames special teams play, that zero in the even strength column needs to improve.

Game Recap

December 10, 2016

Game Thirty One: Home vs Winnipeg Jets

Win: 6-2

3-0-0

Starter: Chad Johnson

PDO CF% SCF% SV% SH% PP% PK%
109.62 48.44 40 95.83 13.79 50 75

Despite the deficits in both scoring chances and possession, another disturbing trend, this was a textbook example of Flames hockey of late. The power play crushed it scoring on two out of four chances and the somewhat faltering penalty kill stopped three out of four opposition power plays. The otherwise anemic even strength scoring took care of the rest and the Flames had another blowout just days after destroying Anaheim.

Game Recap

December 14, 2016

Game Thirty Two: Home vs Tampa Bay Lightning

Loss: 6-3

3-1-0

Starter: Chad Johnson

PDO CF% SCF% SV% SH% PP% PK%
94.34 45.33 36.36 88.46 5.88 50 80

This game appeared to be their worst effort of the season since the Philadelphia game on Grey Cup Sunday as their winning streak is stopped at 6. Their SCF% show that they were largely kept to the outside while losing the possession battle once again. The notable thing about this game is that while the special teams keep chugging along at a respectable rate the Flames were forced to make their first in game goaltending change of the season when Elliott came out to start the third period after Johnson gave up 4 goals on 21 even strength shots.

Johnson would finish the night at an 80.95 SV% while Elliott would post a 92.31 SV%, allowing 1 goal on 13 shots, in the clean up of an otherwise forgettable game.

Game Recap

December 16, 2016

Game Thirty Three: Home vs Columbus Blue Jackets

Loss: 4-1

3-2-0

Starter: Chad Johnson

PDO CF% SCF% SV% SH% PP% PK%
92.31 48.19 33.33 92.31 0 20 66.6

The Flames had high hopes of stopping the hottest team in the League in the Columbus Blue Jackets, who had been held pointless in only two games over the last two months. One of those games was Chad Johnson 2-0 shutout in Columbus 4 weeks prior.

This time around the Blue Jackets proved their dominance over the League with convincing win over the Flames. Aside from being kept largely to the outside in their second game in a row it wasn’t from a seeming lack of effort that this game got away from the Flames, the Blue Jackets were just better.

Game Recap

December 19, 2016

Game Thirty Four: Away vs Arizona Coyotes

Win: 4-2

4-2-0

Starter: Brian Elliott

PDO CF% SCF% SV% SH% PP% PK%
90 57.32 63.64 90 0 50 100

In Brian Elliott’s first start in nearly a month he showed some signs of rust against an Arizona Coyotes squad that seems more than willing to play slump buster for literally every other team in the League. Two even strength goals against with the first clearly being 100% Elliott’s fault and the Flames looked in danger of heading once again to overtime. Luckily the Coyotes got far too aggressive over the course of the game and the Flames 3 PP goals bailed out Elliott’s clearly rusty play.

Last season, the Flames lost every game to the Coyotes, this season, the Flames are leading the series 3-0. It’s the little things.

Game Recap

December 20, 2016

Game Thirty Five: Away vs San Jose Sharks

Loss: 4-1

4-3-0

Starter: Chad Johnson

PDO CF% SCF% SV% SH% PP% PK%
89.56 46.88 42.11 84 5.56 0 100

It was back to reality the next night however, as the Flame played the second game of a back to back against the Pacific Division leading Sharks and it showed both the fatigue of the Flames and the skill of the Sharks, who should be a favorite to win the Cup this season. This game marks the first time in seven games that the Flames rejuvenated power play is held scoreless.

Despite the loss, the Flames finish another segment with a winning record.

Game Recap

The Segment As A Whole

PDO CF% SCF% SV% SH% PP% PK%
96.2 48.07 45.24 92.24 4.37 35 88.8

When we look at the segment as a whole there are number of things that I want to talk about. That PDO needs to be closer to 100 to be a competitive team at even strength. To make noise in the playoffs they have to get that number over 100.

The main reason the PDO is so low is that despite their special teams success, something I harped on relentlessly in previous segments, their even strength scoring has taken a nose dive. They get that number back up to even League average (7.6%) and that PDO looks a lot more palatable.

The special teams, on the other hand, really carried the team during this segment. If one, or both, go dry before the Flames get their EV scoring touch back this team will be in a lot of trouble. Possession and scoring rates need to be above 50% to help guarantee continued success.

The Season So Far

 photo segment5chart_zpsu2tmybn2.jpg

This is really very simple: we have 14 games in a row with tremendous special teams, the penalty kill the more likely to continue to operate at this level, the power play less so.

The Flames need to get back to the even strength scoring that was their strong suit earlier in the season. If they have find a way to get both of those elements going at the same time then we have a much better team on our hands.

The hard part is figured out and is a luxury that a lot of teams would love to have: the goaltending has been consistent at a League average (92.41%) level for the season so far clocking in at 92.07%.

Thirty five games in and I can say with confidence that we are looking at a bubble team. They’ve managed to beat the teams that they are supposed to be but continue to struggle against the top teams in the League. Some elements of their game has been outstanding while some have been more than lackluster. So far they have yet to get all of the elements that they have excelled at various points of the season going at the same time. If they can nail that down approaching and through the half way point of the season then we could be looking at a play off team.