Regular Season Only!!!!
The Flames played well above what was expected of them this season. There are still people who can’t believe how the Flames made it to the playoffs. The Flames had a 44.43 SAT %(Corsi For %), shots on goal + shot attempts that missed the net + blocked shots, was 28th in the league and a 45.74 USAT %(Fenwick For %), shots on goal + shot attempts that missed the net. These two stats are the best for telling puck possession. If the Flames were so low in puck possession how did they make the playoffs? The only team close to them that made the playoffs were the Montreal Canadiens. Everyone knows why the Canadiens made the playoffs. Carey Price who had a Sv% of .933 and a GAA of 1.96 (both tops in the league) carried his team into first in the Atlantic division. Neither Jonas Hiller nor Karri Ramo had outstanding stats. Hiller had a Sv% of .918 and a GAA of 2.36 and Ramo had a .912 Sv% and a 2.60 GAA. Hiller started majority of the games for the Flames and finished 17th in Sv% and 24th in GAA respectively. The Flames also faced more shots than they took. The Flames finished 28th in shots for over the entire season yet scored the 6th most amount of goals in the season. The Flames had a conversion rate of 9.5%. There were 9 Flames players who finished the regular season with a shooting% of 10 or higher with Jiri Hudler leading the way with a 19.60 S%. This is probably the reason for the Flames overcoming their terrible puck possession. To really be able to see how the Flames made the playoffs I must divulge further into each position.
At the beginning of the season the Flames signed Jonas Hiller to a two year $4.5 million deal. He was set to split time between himself and Karri Ramo but Hiller showed just why he deserves to be a starting goaltender. He has had many stand-out performances this season but none more than his game against Chicago where he turned away 49 shots out of 50 to lead the Flames to a 2-1 OT win. Hiller posted better numbers this season (as mentioned before) than his career average .916 Sv%, 2.51 GAA. The Swiss net-minder put up his best numbers since being part of the 2011 All Star Game (his best numbers as a starter). The Flames other goaltender Karri Ramo put up very good numbers himself showing that he is good enough to play at the NHL level. He was acquired two seasons ago to fill the void that Mikka Kipprusoff left. Although he didn’t put up the numbers Kipprusoff did, he still managed to put up good enough stats to earn himself a split role with Hiller. The Flames also had a small stint from Joni Ortio. He played six games with five coming in mid-January and one in the last game of the season. He had a .908 Sv% and a 2.52 GAA. In his first game of the season he turned away 36 shots from the Vancouver Canucks to keep the shutout. All in all the Flames had good goaltending from their top two goaltenders and up and down play from their minor starting goaltender.
Where to start with the Flames defence? Most of the Flames defence corps was great this season, none more than the captain Mark Giordano. Coming off a 2013/14 season in which he set career highs in goals and points. He also missed 18 games during the season. Throughout most of the 2014/15 Giordano was one of the front runners for the James Norris Memorial Trophy (Best all-round play by a defenseman) and the Hart Memorial Trophy (Player must valuable to his team) before he tore his biceps muscle on February 25th against the New Jersey Devils. Giordano put up 11 goals, 37 assists, 48 points and a +/- of 13. He averaged 25:10 ice time 12th in the NHL. Giordano lead all defenseman in points prior to his injury and ended the season 13th overall in points for a defenseman. Next is Giordano’s line-mate T.J Brodie. Brodie average 1 minute 8 seconds more ice time this season than last season despite him getting placed in the second line after Giordano got injured. Brodie and Giordano was one of the best defensive pairings in the NHL this season. Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman were incredible for the Flames this season especially when Giordano went down injured. Both Russell and Wideman had increased minutes and it didn’t faze them at all. Wideman finished 4th in points for a defenseman with 56. Russell led all players in blocked shots with 283. His closest rival was Roman Josi on 209 blocked shots. Russell also had the highest +/- out of all Flames players. Deryk Engelland, Raphael Diaz, Ladislav Smid and David Schlemko (acquired off waivers) contributed to push the Flames in to the playoffs. Engelland’s time on the ice increased by 8:25 from February to March and then by 1:19 from March to April.
The Flames great offense was due to a few players but none more than the front line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler. The three forwards had 64, 62 and 76 points respectively. Gaudreau was tied with Mark Stone for points as a rookie and also earned a Calder Trophy nomination. Monahan became only the eleventh player in the last twenty years to get 30 goals and 30 assists in a single season before the age of 21. Hudler finished 8th among all players in points and obliterated all his career highs in goals (31), assists (45) and points (76). Hudler also finished with a 19.60 S%. The Flames had a career season from Lance Bouma and a good rookie season from Josh Jooris. Lance Bouma had 34 points and had more hits than any other Flames player. Bouma didn’t contribute much in terms of offense but his physical play really helped the Flames to win games and put the other team on the back foot. Jooris had 24 points while playing in the bottom 6. He also only played 60 games in the season. Jones, Colborne, Byron, Stajan and Granlund also contributed which allowed the Flames to win games.
All in all the Flames has had good all round play in every position on the ice. Despite this the Flames still have many question marks to whether they can do the same thing next season. The postseason could also give an indication to whether the Flames can sustain the play or finish at the bottom of the league which was expected of them this season. I really hope that the Flames will become a playoff team and possibly win the Stanley Cup in the next few seasons. The biggest question marks going into the next season will be if the Flames can overcome their terrible puck possession or if they can improve their puck possession and improve on their play from this season.
Thanks for Reading
All stats from NHL.com and CalgaryFlames.com