Flames regression will come but there ar
When it comes to surprises this season, the Flames are probably at the top of the list.
Expected to be one of the leagues worst teams, the Flames are instead in the thick of the playoff hunt. They have 36 points, even with their recent three-game slide, and are in third place in the Pacific with a plus-13 goal differential. Coach Bob Hartley is getting early plaudits as a potential Jack Adams candidate.
The numbers however, arent so kind to Calgary.
When it comes to Calgarys 5v5 Fenwick For percentage (via Stats.Hockeyanalysis.com), Calgary sits at 46.8, which is the sixth-worst mark in the NHL. In close situations, its a little better 48.0 which is good for Aaron Donald Jersey 21st in the league but still poor overall.
People who like numbers and hockey have seen this story before. The Maple Leafs were widely considered the test case for this last season after a hot start despite the numbers, the Leafs predictably collapsed, and ended up mi sing the playoffs by nine points.
I say predictably because another team also had badpo se sion numbers last year the Colorado Avalanche. All they did was go on to finish second in the Western Conference with 112 points, before getting bounced by the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the playoffs.
Regre sion has hit the Avalanche hard this season they own just 26 points and are 10 points out of a playoff spot in the west but sometimes it can take a while.
So is Calgary more like Toronto or Colorado? Honestly, its hard to say. But theres reason to think the Flames could be a bit more like the Avs than the Leafs.
For starters, the Avalanche had a FF of 46.7, 27th in the league last year. Thats bad, but Torontos FF was 42.3. Not Brandin Cooks Jersey only is that the worst in the league, but the difference between the Leafs and Avs was the nearly difference between Avs at 27th and Lightning last year at no.10.
Likewise, the Avs FF close was lousy at 46.8, also 27th, but the Leafs were at 41.6, second worst in the league. The Flames of this year are much closer to where the Avs where, as simply a bad po se sion team, rather than a cover-your-eyes train wreck that were the 2013-14 Leafs.
Then we get to the goalie situation.
Most teams that outperform their po se sion numbers by a large amount tend to have some combination of excellent goaltending and a high shooting percentage. Both the Leafs and Avs had that last year.
Toronto shot 8.42 percent at 5v5, sixth best. The Avalanche were at 8.77, second best behind the Ducks. This year, the Flames are shooting 9.12 percent at 5v5, the fourth-best mark in the league.
Toronto got 32 games of good play from James Reimer (.923 even-strength save percentage) and 55 games of stellar play from Jonathan Bernier (.933 even-strength save percentage). It wasnt enough in the end, but the Leafs’ goalies kept them in it longer than theyhad any right to be.
In Colorado, Semyon Varlamov had a .933 even strength save percentage one of the best marks in the league.
In the past, Flames goalie Jonas Hiller has been an above-average goalie. Some of that may have been Anaheims system Viktor Fasth looked pretty good there too before cratering in Edmonton but the early returns in Calgary give credence to the idea Hiller is a very good netminder. Hiller owns a .931 even-strength save percentage in 17 games.
Even if Hiller is not this good, hockey history is littered with goalies who outperformed their career track record for single seasons. For example, after that strong season, Varlamovs even-stength save percentage this season is .891.
Varlamov isnt that nearly that bad, but he still probably isnt as good as Hiller was in his prime. In fact, he may not be as good as Hiller is right now. For his career, Hiller has a .927 even strength save percentage in 343 games since 2007-08. Varlamov has played 225 games since ’08-09, and has a .923 even-stength save percentage.
It’s closer if you only count the most recent campaigns since the ’11-12 season, Hiller’ Marshall Faulk Jersey s mark is .923 and Varlamov is .921, but it seems as if the baseline is just a little higher with Hiller.And if that is the case, Hiller may not have to overperform his true talent by as much to make a difference.
Hiller has also been pretty consistent. Outside of a terrible 2011-12 campaign where he finished with a mark of .915, he’s never had a save percentage below .925 for a season while he’s played in five where he’s been above .930.
But he’s also played 60 games just once his down year in ’11-12 when he played in 73 had two other seasons with 50 or more games and two others above 45 games. In other words, Hiller is normally excellent when he plays, but he doesn’t always manage to stay in the lineup.
Now, having lost the last three games, in games where the advanced numbers suggest they may have deserved better fates, regre sion may be starting to catch up with the Flames. The clock could’ Alec Ogletree Jersey ve hit midnight.Or it might just be a losing streak. They happen to good teams too.
Thats not say the Flames are a good team. They have good, even great players, but so do the Leafs and so do the Avalanche.
Like everything else in life, succe s in hockey is abalance. Right now, the Flames’ succe s is unbalanced towardsshooting and goaltending.If the Flames don’t find a way to change that, it will, eventually, come crashing down.
But if Hiller continues to remind us of what he was a few years ago, and can stay in the crease, that might not be until next year,and after the mostsurprising playoff appearance of the season.