Notebook: Flames not playing in lead enough to be playoff contender

Mark Giordano scored the overtime winner to help the Calgary Flames defeat the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Calgary Flames haven’t played much with the lead this season.

Through 39 games, the Flames have only carried a lead into the first intermission on eight occasions. However, this trend becomes a little more concerning when only the Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes, and Edmonton Oilers have led fewer minutes ahead than Calgary as of Wednesday.

For a team that fancied itself as a true contender coming into this year, being grouped in with three of the NHL’s bottom teams in this regard isn’t promising.

Game State Minutes Rank
Leading 570:58 28th
Trailing 730:13 15th
Tied 1072:34 1st

Via NaturalStatTrick.com.

Calgary just hasn’t been in control enough of the time in more than 2,300 minutes this season.

For sake of clarity, the teams that have led the most this year include Tampa Bay, Winnipeg, and Nashville — all top end teams.

There is a bright side for the Flames, though. While they’ve held a lead for less than a quarter of this season, they’ve been playing from behind for 730 minutes 13 seconds.

Calgary leads the league with almost 1,100 minutes of even hockey which eases the sting of how little they’ve played in front thus far. I make two conclusions when taking all of this data into account.

First, the Flames need to spend more time in control on the scoreboard. Being grouped with teams like Arizona and Buffalo in that category just isn’t going to cut it.

More encouraging, though, is correcting this trend doesn’t seem like a herculean task. Because Calgary has been tied as much as they have this season, a timely goal here and there could really start to turn the tide.

The Flames are shooting at just 7.53 per cent in all situations and 5.74 per cent at five-on five, which puts them 28th in the league in both categories. Numbers like that are typically unsustainably low, which suggests some improvement as we move into the second half of the season.

If that were to happen, and if Calgary keeps playing in as many close games, the correlation should be more time spent with the lead.

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