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The Season Segments: Segment 3/8

The Calgary Flames see all the progress from the first 14 games implode in a fantastic showing of subpar hockey.

Calgary Flames v Ottawa Senators Photo by Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images

The Numbers (5v5 SVA):

Record: 2-4-1

CF%: 48.61% (last segment: 49.38%)

xGF%: 47.68% (Last segment: 55.09%)

xG+/- per 60: -0.21 (Last Segment: 0.47)

GF%: 32.00% (Last Segment: 61.43%)

SCF%: 49.32% (Last segment: 53.18%)

HDCF%: 46.51% (Last Segment: 60.71%)

On-Ice Sh%: 5.03% (Last Segment: 11.49%)

On-Ice Sv%: 90.34% (Last Segment: 93.57%)

Call this segment the cliff dive of the season because everything went completely over the edge in the worst way. There’s a direct correlation between the drop off in shooting percentage with the drop off in High-Danger chances - the most glaring issue observable from a quick glance. It’s possible to have low points in the season but going 7 games when you only get 32% of the goal share is a good way to get yourself a lottery ticket. The team also stopped getting the elite goaltending that floated them along night-to-night and it all came crashing down in a segment where they were lucky enough to even get both their wins.

There are massive problems going on scheme wise as well. The zone entry defence specifically has seen the entire team collapsing in on their goalie, letting the opposition walk directly into their defensive zone, all while keeping stationary feet to try and take away the middle of the ice. It’s led to extreme problems transitioning out of their own zone that sees the puck come back towards them more often than it goes into the attacking area of the ice.

The Lines

Tkachuk – Lindholm – Mangiapane

Gaudreau – Monahan – Bennett

Lucic – Backlund – Dube

Leivo/Robinson – Gawdin – Nordstrom

Giordano – Andersson

Hanifin – Tanev

Valimaki – Nesterov/Kylington

Edmonton Oilers v Calgary Flames Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

Positivity

We’ll start with what actually went well over the 7-game stretch – as it was just one line. How positive it is depends on how you personally feel about player deployment. The most sheltered line was the only one that finished on the positive side of the xGF% ratio. Johnny Gaudreau specifically led the team at 58.77%. Monahan (55.67%) and Sam Bennett (51.86%) were the other two forwards. The real problem is that despite getting sheltered with offensive zone deployment they’re getting murdered in the possession game. The best of the three CF% wise was again Gaudreau at 47.52%. This line was the only one able to create better chances than they gave up over this stretch and they did so without having dominant control of the puck.

Juuso Valimaki himself was also able to trend on the positive side in spite of the fact he had 4 different partners. His offensive creativity has started to show and grow every single game. The defence as a whole doesn’t have the green light yet to jump into the rush so his offensive potential is being capped somewhat, but it’s nice to see the flashes of what he could be consistently.

David Rittich stole both games in Toronto. The Maple Leafs threw the kitchen sink at him for 120 minutes and he was perfect for 118 of them. Without that stretch the Flames would actually have gone 1-6-0 this segment and the proxy fires surrounding this team today would be combining into an unstoppable bonfire of rage. Dave was able to temporarily delay proper changes and while it’s in the positive section because it was indeed quality play – everything that’s happened since those games has not been going well.

NHL: MAR 01 Flames at Senators Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Negativity

In Segment 2 this was the shortest section. With that prelude allow us to dive in and talk about the entire team this time around.

The offence is completely gone. Forget discussing the depth scoring, at 5v5 the top 6 scoring has also not been enough. Andrew Mangiapane – the teams’ absolute sparkplug through the first 14 games – got absolutely crushed as he moved throughout the lineup. Of the regulars in the lineup Mangiapane had an xG/60 that was the worst on the team at -0.67. Nordstrom even beat him at -0.64. His was the most polarizing but it isn’t just him.

Matthew Tkachuk (-0.59), Milan Lucic (-0.58), and Dillon Dube (-0.39) also saw themselves get buried. That’s 2 top 6 forwards heavily in the red and 2/3rds of your 3rd line. The team has a decent player they could plug into the right side of any of those lines in Josh Leivo, but let’s be real – while he can help the lineup Josh Leivo isn’t going to rapidly change the direction the Flames find themselves rolling in.

The team’s north south/perimeter game has been shown to be easily adjustable against. The breakout can be read like a book on most nights, the lack of east-west utilization allows for the opposing defenders to easily clog the Flames in transition which forces them to dump the puck. I manually tracked the successful conversion rate of defensive zone breakouts leading to sustained offensive zone possession in the 2nd game against Toronto (2-1 OTL) and the 6-1 loss to Ottawa. In both games their defensive zone breakout only succeeded 41% of the time and instead saw the puck coming back at them – forcing them to transition from attack to defend mode on a dime – 59% of their breakouts. It’s hard to create any offence if you can’t even get into the offensive zone.

Once in the offensive zone the team makes very little effort to penetrate the slot whether with passes or by force. The number of passes to the slot (on games I’ve tracked) is under 5 per period. How do you expect to score on an NHL goalie from the outside where they can see all attempts with no traffic? The Flames are trying to run their offensive zone from their blue line as well which just screams giving up odd man rushes if any bad shots go off a shinpad. There’s some easy adjustments that could be made – this coaching staff just has shown the reluctance to do anything systems wise and instead just try to shuffle personnel.

The Next Segment

Game 1: Saturday February 27th @ Ottawa, 11AM MST (6-3 Win)

Game 2: Monday March 1st @ Ottawa, 5PM MST (5-1 Loss)

Game 3: Thursday March 4th Vs Ottawa, 7PM MST

Game 4: Saturday March 6th @ Edmonton, 8PM MST

Game 5: Sunday March 7th Vs Ottawa, 7:30PM MST

Game 6: Thursday March 11th Vs Montreal, 7:00PM MST

Game 7: Saturday March 13th Vs Montreal, 5PM MST

The Scotia North battles on in the next segment. Calgary returns home after a fairly long road trip that saw them struggle. Whether there’s corrections in play, drastic changes, or a staying of the course something interesting is going to play out with this team.

(Statistics from various sources such as Evolving-Hockey.com, Naturalstattrick.com, Hockeyviz.com, & NHL.com)