Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Thirteen Games of Ugliness: A Statistical Look at the Flames Historically-Bad Goaltending

You know you're having a bad season when you lose 6-3 and your goaltender's save percentage actually improves

Yes, that's exactly what happened Tuesday night with Flames goaltender Karri Ramo. Making his fifth start of the year, Ramo entered the game against Colorado with an .868 SV%. In giving up five goals on 41 shots  -- the last goal was an empty netter -- his save percentage climbed to .871.

Definitely a weird night for Ramo, who was very good early in stopping the first 16 pucks fired at him in a very hectic opening period. Four of them came on a Colorado power play when David Jones took a penalty on the opening shift of the game.

However, 22 seconds away from what would have been just his second shutout period of the season, Matt Duchene scored on his own rebound to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead headed to the first intermission. That began a stretch in which Ramo gave up five goals on the next 25 shots and along with two disallowed goals and the usual number of defensive blunders, that effectively killed Calgary's hopes of putting together consecutive wins for the first time since games 3 and 4 of last year's playoff series against Vancouver.

Six Months In a Leaky Boat 

There's another dubious number that goes hand in hand with that stretch back to mid-April last year. In the Flames last 20 games, they have not once given up less than two goals. Heck, they've given up less than three goals only three times.

Here's the breakdown of how many goals have been allowed per game by the Flames since Jonas Hiller's 3-1 victory over the Canucks in game 4 on April 23, 2015.

0 GA - 0
1 GA - 0
2 GA - 3
3 GA - 4
4 GA - 6
5 GA - 3
6 GA - 4

That adds up to 81 goals and a goals-against-average north of four, which may have landed you in the middle of the pack back in the high-scoring 80s when the goalie equipment was tiny and the 50-goal scorers were plentiful, but it's no good in this era.

Dreadful in the Second and Third

Tuesday's loss epitomized Calgary's struggles this season over the final 40 minutes of hockey games. Through 13 games, the Flames save percentage in the second and third periods combined is a meagre .832. That is atrocious. May seem like a harsh adjective but there's really no other way to describe it.

For the morbidly curious, here is the breakdown of the Flames save percentage by period. This helps explain why Calgary has taken five first period leads but only led once after the second period.
  • First period, .926 SV% (10 GA, 135 shots)
  • Second period,  .821 SV% (22 GA, 123 shots)
  • Third period, .842 SV% (21 GA, 133 shots -- excludes 2 empty net goals)

But wait, there's more. Heck, we're just getting started.

Comparison to a Year Ago

Here's another revealing statistic that highlights how drastic the fall-off has been in goaltending and defensive play compared to last season.

After 13 games:

2014-15 - 7-4-2 record, 29 GA
2015-16 - 3-9-1 record, 55 GA

They've allowed almost twice as many goals this season compared to the same point a year ago -- and with pretty much the same goaltenders. It's mind-boggling.

Individual Performance

Across the NHL, here is how the Flames three goalies stack up as of Wednesday morning with 51 goalies now eligible in save percentage.

47. Karri Ramo CGY, .871
48. Joni Ortio CGY, .868
49. Jonas Hiller CGY, .861
50. Eddie Lack CAR, .852
51. Alex Stalock SJ, .847

As you can only imagine, when that is where your goaltenders are slotted, it doesn't bode well for the team's overall save percentage.

Team Performance

First, for comparison, here are the NHL's top five teams in save percentage (excludes empty net goals).

1. NY Rangers, .947
2. Pittsburgh, .942
3. Montreal, .938
4. Florida, .936
5. Los Angeles, .931

Now here are the bottom five:

26. Minnesota, .897
27. Buffalo, .896
28. Columbus, .886
29. Boston, .886
30. Calgary, .868

How Historically Bad Is It?  

Part 1 - Teams

The question was asked to me last night, how bad is all this historically? So, I did some digging. The NHL's official records online only go back to 1997-98 but over the last 17 seasons, here are the 10 worst seasons between the pipes. Once again, this is the team's goaltending save percentage so empty net goals have been removed. I also listed all the goalies that made at least 10 starts that year for that team.

As you can see, Calgary (at .868 currently) has some significant catching up to do as they'd top the list easily as it stands.

1. 1999-00 Tampa Bay Lightning, .879
  • Zac Bierk - 10 starts, .899
  • Dan Cloutier - 44 starts, .885
  • Kevin Hodson - 10 starts, .856

2. 1999-00 Atlanta Thrashers, .881
  • Scott Fankhouser - 13 starts, .891
  • Norm Maracle - 27 starts, .890
  • Damian Rhodes - 28 starts, .874
  • Scott Langkow - 13 starts, .861

3. 2008-09 Toronto Maple Leafs, .887
  • Martin Gerber - 12 starts, .905
  • Vesa Toskala - 53 starts, .891
  • Curtis Joseph - 11 starts, .869

4. 2005-06 Edmonton Oilers, .887
  • Dwayne Roloson - 19 starts, .905
  • Michael Morrison - 16 starts, .884
  • Jussi Markkanen - 31 starts, .880
  • Ty Conklin - 15 starts, .880

5. 2005-06 Chicago Blackhawks, .887
  • Adam Munro - 10 starts, .893
  • Nikolai Khabibulin - 50 starts, .886
  • Craig Anderson - 10 starts, .886

6. 2006-07 Phoenix Coyotes, .888
7. 2006-07 Tampa Bay Lightning, .888
8. 2005-06 Pittsburgh Penguins, .889
9. 2006-07 Los Angeles Kings, .890
10. 2000-01 Boston Bruins, .890

Part 2 - Individuals

Over that same period of 1997-98 until now, here are the 10 worst seasons individually (25 game minimum).

Again, all three Calgary goalies at this time would find themselves atop this list along with Stalock and Lack.

1. Scott Clemmensen Fla, 2012-13, .8741
2. Damian Rhodes Atl, 1999-00, .8742
3. Brian Boucher Phi, 2000-01, .876
4. Arturs Irbe Car, 2002-03, .877
5. Andrew Raycroft Bos, 2005-06, .8786

6. Peter Skudra, Bos/Buf, 2000-01, .8787
7. Vesa Toskala Tor/Cal, 2009-10, .87969
8. Jussi Markkanen Edm, 2005-06, .87972
9. Tom Barrasso Pit/Ott, 1999-00, .8802
10. Sebastien Caron Pit, 2005-06, .881

Final Thought

It's all madness, really, and the hi-jinx continues Thursday night with the Philadelphia Flyers at the Saddledome and Jakub Voracek seeking his first goal of the season. After that, Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin get their chance on Saturday.

Anyway you slice it, it's been ugly and you have to wonder how long Calgary continues with the same three guys. Although tightening up defensively would sure help also.

By the way, have you liked Flames From 80 Feet on Facebook yet? Go there and do so now. It's just another way to be alerted to new Calgary Flames articles that I've written.


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  1. The good thing is that outside of giving up 4+ goals a game, the rest of the team is looking like themselves. last year, Calgary would probably win 4 or 5 of the last 6 games. This year 1-4-1

    1. Thanks Matt. I agree the team has definitely improved of late even though they're not getting the results. Unfortunately, they are weak at the single most important position in the game and it's been costly. The Flames need a goalie to step up, make the saves they're not supposed to make and steal a game to restore the faith of the players that I think has evaporated even though the players obviously won't admit to that publicly.Cheers.