This past Calgary Flames season was quite the roller coaster ride of emotions and results. On paper the roster was bolstered with tons of young talent and anchored with the veteran leadership of Captain Mark Giordano and veteran scoring touch of Jiri Hudler. So what happened? How could a team that is so good on paper, be so...not good (for lack of nicer words) on the ice?
To help try to rectify things, I am going to go back and compare this season's team with the 1988/89 Stanley Cup winning team and the 2003/04 Stanley Cup Finals team. All stats have been taken from hockey-reference.com.
Records: 1988/89 (57-17-9, 117 points), 2003/04 (42-30-7-3, 94 points), 2015/16 (35-40-7, 77 points)
Goals For/Goals Against: 1988/89 (354/226), 2003/04 (200/176), 2015/16 (231/260)
This is an interesting set of stats because I have said all along that goaltending was the Flames downfall this season. This stat clearly shows that they scored more than enough goals to at the very least make the playoffs. The goals against tells the whole story.
Power Play: 1988/89 (101/405, 24.9%), 2003/04 (54/357, 15.1%), 2015/16 (46/270, 17.0%)
As you can see, the power play numbers are better than they were in 2003/04 season so shouldn't be an issue.
Power Play Against: 1988/89 (78/457, 17.1%), 2003/04 (53/346, 15.3%), 2015/16 (57/234, 24.3%)
Well, this stat is interesting. The Flames didn't take near as many penalties this season as they did previously, but they sure didn't kill them very well.
The 1988/89 Calgary Flames were led offensively by Joe Mullen with 51 goals and 59 assists for 110 points in 79 games. The closest behind him were Hakan Loob and Doug Gilmour both with 85 points.
In 2003/04, the Flames were led by Captain Jarome Iginla with 41 goals and 32 assists for 73 points in 81 games. Craig Conroy was a long ways behind that with only 47 points. So it was literally a near miracle they made the playoffs and went to the finals.
This past season's offense was led by Johnny Gaudreau who scored 30 goals and 48 assists for 78 points in 79 games. That would have been good for 5th in scoring on the 1988/89 team and 5 points ahead of Iginla in 2003/04. Sean Monahan came 2nd this season with 63 points.
In 1988/89 the Flames had Al MacInnis and Gary Suter anchoring the defence. Both were 5th and 6th in team scoring respectively, and together had a plus/minus rating of +64.
The Flames defence core in 2003/04 consisted of Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr. Leopold led the defence with 33 points however Regehr led the D in plus/minus with a rating of +14.
This season the Flames had a solid defence core with three d-men in the top 7 in team scoring. Captain Mark Giordano led the D with 21 goals and 35 assists for 56 points and played in all 82 games. Gio's plus/minus rating was a dismal -5. T.J. Brodie was 5th in scoring with 45 points and at least had a positive plus/minus rating of +4. These stats tell me that although the D-men were scoring, they were also getting scored on too much, perhaps due to goaltending.
Mike Vernon carried the majority of the workload in 1988/89 playing in 52 games and posting 37 wins (71.2% win percentage) and a modest goals against average of 2.65 and save percentage of .897.
During the 2003/04 season, the Flames used four different goaltenders with Miikka Kiprusoff playing the most. In 38 games Kipper posted 24 wins (over 63% win percentage if you are keeping track). He also had a goals against average of just 1.69 and a save percentage of .933. This tells us that Kipper stopped way more shots than Vernon, but didn't win as much.
This season once again saw four different goaltenders between the pipes for the Flames. Karri Ramo played the most before getting injured. In 37 games he earned 17 wins (only 45.9% win percentage) and posted a 2.63 Goals Against Average and a.909 save percentage. The rest of the season was pretty much divided between Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio. Hiller only won 9 games out of 26 and Ortio only won 7 of 22 games.
What can we conclude from all this statistical information? That obviously the 1988/89 team is untouchable. They were a dominant team as were the Oilers back then. Both were a powerhouse and dominated the league for most of the late 80's.
The 2003/04 team was not very good at all and it was clearly a miracle they made the playoffs, let alone won the Stanley Cup...oh wait...no they didn't because the goal was disallowed.
This season's team was not statistically stellar in any category. Oh wait, for a stretch near the end of the season the Flames had scored like 6 short-handed goals in a few games or something like that. In my opinion and based on the stats provided, our goaltending needed to be more consistent.