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Wednesday, September 24, 2008


on 24 September 2008

In the 2008/9 NHL season, The Flames begin their sophomore campaign under the leadership of Iron Mike Keenan. Cornerstone players have signed new contracts, testament to a faith in the team’s foundations. Last year’s performance in the first 10 games we saw an invigorated team ready to make an early statement, unlike the previous two seasons. What will the start of the NHL 2008/9 regular season bring?

The Calgary Flames are one of only nine NHL teams to secure a playoff berth in each of the three seasons since the Lockout year. The season prior to the lockout, they were the Western Conference Champions. The team obviously wants to avoid another first round exit, but to do so they will need to play above the Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) throughout the season rather than RIDING the curve. They have played almost within our PQC with a 3-year average of +1.8. Last season, however they played right along the PQC:

In the 2007/8 NHL Season:
  • The Flames were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the third year in a row.
  • The 2007/8 NHL season began with trepidations…and hope. A new coach returning to the NHL, but not a new reputation in Mike Keenan.
  • Too many slow starts to games and inconsistent play throughout the season forced them to squeeze, rather than charge, into post-season play.
It is always intriguing to watch a club attempt to build a Cup-worthy team. Again, the Flames show they can make the playoffs. But nobody realistically expected them to advance to the second round. Yet they gave the Sharks quite a battle. For this 2008/9 NHL season, expect the Flames to tighten their already strong defensive core and form an identity in front of Kiprusoff. The recognized talent should embrace and use the youth movement in offense to generate more scoring. The hope this year is for the Flames to find some separation from their opponents in the goal scoring category. Let’s see what the On Goal Analysis PQC reveals.

This season the Calgary Flames must emphasize consistant goal scoring. They cannot rely on their marquee players for offense but must spread the scoring amongst their top three lines. Last season, the Flames rode the Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) because too many of their contests were decided by one goal (22-7-10). Without the added punch of some separation in the tally count against their opponents, their chances on making the playoffs by riding our curve may be running out.

The Flames first 10 games of the season are played 9 – 30 OCTOBER. Our exhaustive research indicates that in that time frame, Calgary earns a PQC rating of 4.7 and about 9 points in the NHL standings. Interestingly enough, in the 2007/8 season the Flames were one of only three teams OGA could not make a call of either IN or OUT of post-season play.

Some statistics of note to manage your expectations into late OCTOBER are:
  • Calgary plays 6 of its first 10 games at home this year. But the Flames will play an average of almost one whole point below the rest of the NHL on the PQC.
  • Post Lockout, they are a combined middle-of-the pack performer in their first 10 games. (12-14-4)
  • The Flames have lost the last three season-openers.
OGA will be measuring the Flames against their average PQC Rating of 4.7, as well as all other NHL teams, in order to provide you more in-depth analysis with Calgary’s Game 10 Report, due to season subscribers by 2PM Central on 31 OCTOBER and available to purchase from On Goal Analysis.com by 2PM Central Time on 1 NOVEMBER. (See a sample G10R here…)

Will the exit of some veterans during the off-season allow younger players (like newly acquired Mike Cammalleri) to bring jump to the Flames in their first 10 games this campaign? Will the team congeal and gain confidence during Keenan’s second year as head coach? Will Calgary continue to ride the PQC, play middle-of-the pack hockey and squeak into the post-season again? Or perhaps they just miss it. You can be the first to know. Stay tuned to the OGA Blog and check out the Calgary Flames G10R for a thorough review of the Flames’ performance as measured against the PQC.

Tomorrow brings the Carolina Hurricanes SPR and another dose of the Frozen Pill.


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