I mentioned last year that there has generally been one overachieving NHL team that produced heated debate between old-fart sportswriters and analytic types. To be frank, this year the Flames are that team. As a Flames fan I’m happy to be back in the playoffs, but I also know damned well that if the Flames and Kings played in 100 seasons the L.A. would finish ahead in the standings in at least 80 of them. And yet, for the reasons McIndoe largely identifies, the level of controversy hasn’t been the same as in past years. Part of this is analytics getting more accepted, part of this is that the Flames were expected to be in the McDavid race so they’re easier to accept as overachieving underdogs, part of it is that Toronto isn’t involved.
The Flames having a better record than their possession stats isn’t all luck. Their goaltending has been solid, they’ve been shorthanded less than anybody else in the league, their leading scorer has maintained a well above-average shooting percentage for 4 straight years now and while it’s too soon to tell Monahan may be one of the players who can sustain that as well. But, still, they’re fortunate to make the playoffs. But despite the nagging voice reminding me that nobody is happier about Calgary eliminating LA than Canucks fans, I’m happy to be back anyway.