Thursday, November 12, 2009

Flames Chances - Games 1 to 10

For those who are unfamiliar with the scoring chance metric, a player is awarded a chance any time someone on the ice has a chance to score. He is given a “chance for” if someone on his team has a chance to score and given a “chance against” if someone on the opposing team has a chance to score, just like +/-. The results are broken down into three game states, EV (even strength), PP (Power Play, not including 5v3 situations) and SH (Short-Handed, not including 5v3 situations) and the players are organized according to their jersey numbers and initials. At EV I've also included a scoring chance percentage which is the number of chances for divided by the total number of chances for both teams when any individual player is on the ice. Kent Wilson is tracking chances for the Calgary Flames this year and the data that follows is dependent on those results. Special thanks must also be given to Dennis King for starting the counting trend last season and Vic Ferrari for creating an application that makes the game-to-game tallying much easier.

Much has been made of the Flames poor shot differential to this point of the season but, at least through the first ten games, their poor shot differential has not lead to being seriously outchanced. It will be interesting to update at the twent game mark and see if the chances have worsened coming closer to the shot metrics or if the Flames outshooting numbers improve coming toward the chance numbers. Maybe it will be both. Or maybe we will see something most interesting and it will be neither.

The combination of Curtis Glencross and Craig Conroy looks like solid gold by this measure and both have been strong and consistent performers with some particularly strong games mixed in. It would have been very difficult for the Flames to make up for the particularly poor play of "star" forwards Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginla if not for these superior contributions from the depth players. According to Behind the Net, Iginla has been facing the toughest opposition of all Flame forwards and has also been given the worst offensive to defensive start ratio. He's also had to carry around Jokinen. Hopefully for Flame fans Sutter moves Jokinen off of Iginla's line into a more sheltered role and lets someone else play with the team's captain.

Cory Sarich has not performed well in his five games played. His number is well clear of the other Flames defenders and I would think that Darryl Sutter is looking to move Sarich for cap relief. Of the depth forwards, Fred Sjostrom looks like the one providing the least valuable contribution at this point. He's been used some on the penalty kill but his even strength performance leaves much to be desired.

At this point I think it's fair to conclude that the Flames probably didn't deserve to win as many games as they did over the first ten but, on the other hand, they're not a bad team either. I've calculated the scoring chances ratios of the Avalanche, Oilers and Wild in addition to the Flames and so far the Flames are clearly the best of the bunch, although the fact that none of those four teams have a positive scoring chance differential probably speaks to a weak division.


R O said...

Hey Scott thanks for putting this up on M&G.

Scott Reynolds said...

Yeah, no problem, I figured it would get a lot more eyes over there and the more people that have access the better as far as I'm concerned.

Vic Ferrari said...

When the game was close (I call that within one goal in the first two periods, or tied at any time ... your mileage may vary) the Flames had a significantly positive shot differential (52.6%) through the first ten games. Which is impressive considering that Iginla and Jokinen have had terrible starts to the season.

They really buried their chances early though, and they've been playing to the score with the lead a LOT. More than they deserved really, some unsustainable EVshooting% right through that lineup.

While playing to the score defensively with the lead ... they've been owned by the shots% (38%), but we'd expect there to be a much higher percentage of shots that are actually scoring chances then. Probably most of their odd man rushes came while clinging to a lead.

They haven't trailed late in games much, they've played very little when the other team was playing to the score. So the shots tallies haven't gotten a bump from that.

Vic Ferrari said...


Oddly enough the opposite happened last season for the Flames. IIRC JLikens showed that they spent more time trailing than leading at evens in 0809. They were the most anomalous team in the league this way last season. So their shot ratio flattered them a bit in 0809.

Lady luck is fickle.

Scott Reynolds said...

That's interesting Vic. Where are you picking up the shots-while-tied data? It's good to know that they've been aggressively playing to the score so far this year. I suspect, then, as their EV shooting % comes down we'll probably see their shot numbers even out.