Monday, April 7, 2008

28 games later

I have nothing. MG has the most fantastic analysis about how this is going to be another short playoff run. I'm going to take another tack and hearken back unto the glory days.

In 2004, the year of the Flames' (insert-adjective-here: surprise, unlikely, miracle, improbable) run to the Finals, Darryl Sutter famously divided up the last twenty-eight games of the season, and explained to the guys that, well, they had four series of seven games each. Win each set of seven, and, you'd be pretty close to a Stanley Cup. He was right, as it turned out.

So how do we compare to that year? Let's find out.

Wins: 4/7Wins: 3/7

Verdict: Ooohhhhh, not good. This season, we're losing 2 of those seven game "series", and overall have one fewer win.

Even more worrying to me is the greater number of games which we've lost, and have been blown wide open. In 2004, the only two games in which there was a goal differential of 4 goals in favour of the other team were against perennial Flames-killing Dallas. I'm willing to let those go. But even this month, there's been too many games where the team just forgot to show up.

On the bright side, even with the terrible-most final seven games of this season, we managed to take four games. That suggests to me that maybe it is possible to squeeze out a series win. Mayyyybe.

If we can play like we did in that second series (approximate timeframe: mid to late February), then we're as good as any team in the playoffs. However, right now my gut feel is that we're not that team.

What are we going to have to do to beat San Jose? We're going to have to be the Flames, circa pre-trade deadline. We're going to have to clamp down on the penalties. Kipper will need to be on (this is not impossible - much of the playoff analysis to date has ignored the fact that his goalie stats have largely trended upwards since the beginning of the season).

A lot of things are going to have to come right for the Flames. But hey, it's happened before.


Guys? Right?


  1. Excellent post. It's actually a bit suprising to me that we only lost one extra game in the final 28 as compared to 04. That makes me feel a little better, even if we were supposed to win more.


  2. Interesting comparison. To put some meat on the bones, one would have to compare the quality of opposition of each schedule to really determine how each year stacks up.

    I think one of the most disturbing aspects of the Flames final quarter was their lack of success despite what I would call a buttery soft schedule. They faced a lot of non-play-off teams down the stretch and still only managed mediocre results.

  3. Kyle: Scary, isn't it? I thought initially that we were hosed beyond any shadow of redemption. That said, we are supposed to be a much better team than what that chart indicated...

    MG: Does anybody have quality of competition stats for 2004? My intuition is that for a period of just over a quarter of the season, those figures even out. Given were we were in 2004 though, that figure is probably a touch higher back then than it is now.

    One of the other things I thought about doing was doing it year over year so we could see how 2006 and 2007 also stack up, but my eyes started crossing from all the stupid HTML markup.

  4. Leanne...I would just look at an old schedule an eye-ball it. Not terribly scientific, I know, but...

    hockeyfights has the Flames 03-04 sched. Starting in March, Calgary faced Detroit a couple of times as well as Colorado, Dallas, Ottawa, Nashville and San Jose. The only "easy" teams I see are LA, Edmonton and Phoenix, especially given that St. Louis and Colorado were better then than they are now. They went 10-6-2 in the final 18 that year.

    This year, the only play-off teams in the final quarter of the year were Minnesota, Washington and Colorado if I recall. And all of them were behind the Flames in the standings at the onset of the quarter I believe.

  5. MG: One reason I listed the teams we played along with the outcome was to get a gut feel for the quality of competition...

    While it isn't dead even, I don't think the quality of competition declined that much between 2004 and 2008. Ottawa in particular (who we played twice!! in that stretch) I don't remember being as tough as the Spring 2007 version. It was post-lockout when the big line really came together for them.

    Likewise, NSH and CLB circa 2004 were not nearly as good as they are now. And Vancouver was reeling a bit in the stretch, because of some thing that happened on the ice...with Colorado, wasn't it?

    Actually, one of the reasons San Jose's record down the stretch has galled so much is because we've had the same kind of schedule, but we've never capitalized on it.