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Friday, September 4, 2009

OGA SPR: The Calgary Flames – Frozen Pill

This is On Goal Analysis’ 2009/10 Season Preview Report (SPR) for the Calgary Flames – the 4th installment of our daily previews leading to the start of the new season!

Fantasy Players - be sure to read the Frozen Pill’s Fantasy Dose at the conclusion of the post.

The CALGARY FLAMES as Measured against the OGA Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC)

Last Season VS the PQC: On Goal Analysis called the Calgary Flames Chasing Stanley (IN the playoffs) at Game 38 on January 3rd, 2009. They did indeed qualify for the playoffs in the middle of the Western pack, finishing 5th in the conference – 6 points ahead of St. Louis and 6 points behind Chicago to whom they would lose a rousing series in 6 games.

The Devil didn’t make them do it, but he may be found within the details. Calgary finished the 08-09 season with a PQC rating of 4.9 – which just happens to be their exact post-lockout average.

Post-Lockout Average VS the PQC: Consistency is the hallmark of this organization when the Flames’ play is measured against the PQC. Calgary rides the Curve year after year but, because they do, they make the playoffs each spring having secured a playoff berth in each of the four seasons since the lockout.

Their baseline differential from the PQC never strays far. Post-lockout, the Flames never play higher than 2.5 points above the Curve – but never play lower than -1.5 points against the PQC, either.

The season prior to the lockout, the Flames were the Western Conference Champions.

Yet Calgary has flamed out in the opening round of post-season play each year since then. Obviously, they must find a way to advance in the playoffs. And if their historical performance as measured against the PQC holds true this season, they will be there again to fight that fight.


  • Brent Sutter was named new coach in June.
  • Hoping to both sure up the defense (a top priority for the new coach) and improve on the Power Play (the Flames finished 21st last season), the Flames made big news with the off-season addition of Jay Bouwmeester.
  • Flames’ second overall scoring leader Michael Cammalleri signed with Montreal creating a vacancy in the ‘netting goals’ department. Will Olli Jokinen (obtained at last season’s trade deadline) allow Calgary to bypass ‘replacing’ Cammalleri? Time will tell, but Jokinen seemed to be a good fit in Calgary at the conclusion of the regular season and in the six playoff games against Chicago.
  • Jordan (Easy Come, Easy Go) Leopold is gone (again) as part of the Bouwmeester deal but the Flames brought back the feisty fan favorite, Brandon Prust.
  • Adrian Aucoin signed with Phoenix and Big Todd the Bertuzzi is moving to Detroit.

Interesting Flames Factoid: Calgary has lost each of its season openers in the previous four seasons. Now, if I were a betting man….


The Sure Thing: Jarome Iginla (RW). Because he is the heart and soul, the cog on which the team turns…and he scores lots of points (89 last season). When wondering if you shouldn’t try Olli Jokinen instead, just remember - every season some fantasy GM complains on the message board about Iginla’s slow start to the year. Then, midway through the season, the same GM is commenting how smart he was to stick with Iginla. Don’t be that guy. Take Jarome if you can get him. It will work out for you just fine.

TrustyRusty: Dion Phaneuf (D) is a pretty safe bet on any fantasy roster’s D-squad. He eats Power Play time like its dinner at the farmhouse and he is not prone to injury having missed only 5 regular season games since 2005.

Up and Coming: Rene Bourque (LW). Bourque, a lefty, may get to fill some of the ice time (alongside Iginla) formerly skated by Mike Cammalleri. His career year last season found him scoring 40 points in only 58 games for his first season with the Flames. Expect even more this season.

Under the Radar: David Moss (LW). This kid could end up playing on the second line this season in Calgary. He popped in 20 goals and 19 assists to little notoriety. Grab him deep in the draft and then thank me later.

The Watchful Eye: Mikael Backlund (C). Calgary’s top prospect is fast, a playmaker, a scoring threat and quick to backcheck. If he makes the squad out of camp, keep an eye on him as a ‘free-agent signing’ during the course of the fantasy season.

The Crease: Take a goalie from Calgary in the fantasy draft? Uh, yeah. Miikka Kiprusoff plays tons of games every season. And in 08/09, no goalie had more wins (45), faced more shots (2155) or made more saves (1946). Kippers is a Keeper.

Mad Scientist: Craig Conroy (C). Most may view Craig as being on the sunset side of his twilight years but you can’t overlook 36 assists (12 goals) and his team leading +20 rating last season. For reference, Iginla finished -2. And he played all 82 games.


Will the Calgary Flames maintain their role as a ‘model of consistency’ and ride the Curve, never straying far and find themselves back in the hunt for Lord Stanley’s Cup once again next spring? Well, they have to start playing the games before anyone knows. But give us ten games and we might be able to tell you. OGA knows. And you can too.

Make sure to sign up for the daily, bargain-priced analytical tool for your NHL analysis and fantasy needs by ordering the OGA Daily Tip-In Report (DTIR). For only $10.00, the season-long subscription to the DTIR is delivered to you each morning via email (minus the Olympics, of course). With OGA’s Daily Tip-In, you will have insight to the teams’ chances of qualifying for the playoffs – potentially well before the mathematical call is made – in addition to important team notes as their play is measured each night against the PQC. See a teaser and read it about the DTIR here.

And remember, the OGA 2008/09 Report Card (how accurate are our calls?) will be posted at the conclusion of the SPRs on September 30th.

Tomorrow brings us another dose of the Frozen Pill with the Carolina Season Preview Report. Hurricane season is upon us.

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