Posts Tagged ‘calgary flames’
In the extremely tight Western Conference (where a mere fourteen points separate twelth place from third place), it might seem difficult to pick a team to emerge from the fray victorious and represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Final. The Detroit Red Wings, of course, are perennial favourites (although their defense (and particularly goaltending) looks rather suspect, with five of the other eight seeded teams showing fewer goals against). But what about the teams immediately below Detroit in the standings, notably the San Jose Sharks, the Calgary Flames, the Vancouver Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks?
Points don’t tell the whole story: the Sharks, for example, piled up a ton of points early in the season, but have been struggling of late. Let’s instead take a look at these respective teams’ trending.
Here’s a look at how these teams got to where they are today, 70 games into an 82 game season:
Let’s look a bit more closely at the trending: if we plot each of these teams’ point accumulation over time, one game at a time, and add some regression lines, what does that tell us about where these teams are heading?
Interesting: as we can see, the Sharks are on a downward trend, as are the Blackhaws. The Flames, meanwhile, are trending upward, but not as much as the Canucks.
Next, let’s take ten-game chunks and see what that tells us:
This shows an even starker constrast between the four teams: the Canucks have clearly been firing on all cylinders over the past 20 games, while the other three teams are showing the wear and tear of a long season of high-calibre hockey.
Our conclusion? Look for Vancouver to go deep into the playoffs this year. Detroit has managed to outscore opponents and win games despite a leaky defense; that style of hockey historically doesn’t work in the tighter, lower-scoring and more defense-oriented post-season. Calgary remains a force, however San Jose and Chicago appear to be running out of steam at exactly the wrong time of the season.
Jerome Iginla, the Calgary Flames Captain (30, and playing in his 11th NHL season), has, for the second time in his career, scored 50 goals in a season. His final (and 50th) goal came against the Vancouver Canucks in the last game of the season Saturday, April 5th, 2008. Iginla also managed 48 assists on the season, bringing his point total to 98, a career high.
The Vancouver Canucks, meanwhile, are captained by Markus Naslund (34; 14th season), who finished the 2007-2008 campaign with 25 goals and 30 assists for a total of 55 points – his lowest total in ten years.
Both captains used to appear together in Nike commercials, and both have been elite players in the NHL. In fact, their numbers were virtually identical until recently. However Iginla is off to the Stanley Cup Playoffs; Naslund is just…off, his Vancouver Canucks having been eliminated from the Playoffs prior to the season ending match up between the Flames and the Canucks (which could have been one hell of a winner-take-all battle for the final playoff spot if things had worked out just ever so slightly differently (read: if the Canucks had bothered showing up for any one of the six games they lost in their final seven games of the season)).
Let’s take a closer look at Jerome Iginla’s and Markus Naslund’s respective careers and see how they match up: Read the rest of this entry »
After what must have felt like a week from hell – four straight losses, Roberto Luongo yanked in consecutive games, Brendan Morrison injured (and out for the season) and outscored 14-7 in those same four games – the Canucks came out looking like men on a mission in their game against Northwest Division rivals the Calgary Flames Sunday night. It was in stark contrast to their disinterested play of late.
It’s become a cliche to call every single Canucks game a “must-win”, however there are few other phrases that do justice to the magnitude of Sunday’s tilt: the Canucks had nonchalantly dropped into ninth spot in the Western Conference with just four games remaining, all against Northwest Division teams. With five games remaining, I’d speculated they’d need to win three, but more probably four, of their final five games; they promptly lost the first one 4-0 to the Minnesota Wild. Now, with four left, they were up against a team which had out worked, out shot, out muscled and out scored them just five days prior (a 3-2 loss in which the Canucks blew a first period 2-0 lead).
The Vancouver Canucks are playing like a team which neither wants, nor deserves, to be in the playoffs.
Over the past two games, in back-to-back nights against the Calgary Flames (a four-pointer that could have seen the Canucks in a tie with Calgary for second) and the Colorado Avalanche (a game in which the winner moves to the seventh spot in the Northwest Division), Vancouver went ahead early, only to blow the lead and ultimately lose the game.
Against Calgary, the Canucks scored two goals within 12 seconds before the half-way mark of the first period (Naslund with just his 24th of the season (and first in 15 games!) on the power play and Daniel Sedin with his 28th on an impossible-angle bank in from behind the goal line). Vancouver out shot Calgary by a whopping 21-7 margin. That should have left Calgary feeling a bit demoralized and ripe for the finishing blow. Instead, the Canucks took the rest of the night off and the Flames came out in the second and third periods looking like a team that not only wants a shot at the playoffs but is willing to fight, hard, to get there.