We’re eight games into the 2016-17 season, just shy of 10% through the schedule. The Flames have won three of their eight games and there are a few questions afoot about their scoring. Are they doing enough of it? Or are they scoring about as much as you’d expect (and the “blame” for the losses more falls on their defensive play and goaltenders)?
Using each player’s career shooting (and save) percentages as a guide, we’ve dug into the Flames’ numbers thus far in the season to find out.
Expected goals is career shooting percentage times shots on goal. Actual goals is what you think it is.
Let’s start with the big guns: Gaudreau has scored slightly less than his numbers suggest he should have, which is consistent with his play so far. He’s been buzzing hasn’t buried chances to the degree you’d expect. Monahan has scored about as much as you’d expect he should. Brouwer has scored a full goal more than expected, which makes a bit of sense given his position on the team. Combined Giordano and Brodie are a little behind their expected production, while Hamilton is a full goal behind his.
Backlund is behind his expected pace, so he could be a contender for an offensive explosion in the near future. Frolik has a full goal more than expected, so theoretically he and Backlund balance out their line’s expected production. Ferland and Wideman are a fair bit ahead of what you’d expect them to have at this point.
Overall? The Flames have actually scored a goal and a half more than you would expect given their players’ histories and number of shots produced. (Over eight games, that amounts to 0.20 of a goal per game.)
The Flames have scored a bit more than expected, while they’ve allowed a lot more goals than expected. Almost six goals over eight games is a fairly big amount, roughly 0.73 goals per game. Given that we saw a similar pattern early last season when the team’s defensive zone play was (to be charitable) a bit of a tire fire, I can’t help but think a few more games of solid defense on the Flames’ part will see this big gap begin to shrink.
SUM IT UP
Based on the career shooting and save percentages of the Flames’ roster players (and extrapolating their expected goals for and against thus far this season), the Flames are scoring about as much as you would expect them to. The big challenge so far is they’ve allowed several more goals than expected through the first eight games of the season.
That said, with the Flames playing a smarter brand of hockey over the past couple of games and the reining in of the porous defensive zone play that resulted in long stretches spent hemmed in and lots of high-quality scoring chances against, we may see the goals for creep even higher than expected and the goals against creep downwards towards the expected level.