1. Beating the goalie
The Flames improved their shot total from 2,388 in 2016-17 (24th in NHL) to 2,759 last season (sixth) The difference of plus-371 was the greatest increase in the NHL.
Such a large increase in shots would normally result in more scoring, but the Flames were 27th in the NHL (216 goals). They scored 222 in 2016-17, tied with the Dallas Stars for 16th.
The issue was a drop in shooting percentage. Calgary was 29th in the NHL last season (7.83 percent), down from 14th in 2016-17 (9.30). The difference of minus-1.57 percent was the second biggest in the NHL, with only the St. Louis Blues experiencing a bigger drop (minus-1.64 percent).
2. Creating an advantage
Johnny Gaudreau had 84 points (24 goals, 60 assists) to lead the Flames in scoring for the third consecutive season. He has 223 points (72 goals, 151 assists) in 231 games in that span, tied for 13th in the NHL with Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin.
In those three seasons, Gaudreau has drawn 103 penalties and been called for 21. The difference of plus-82 leads the NHL and results in an extra 14.5 goals based on Calgary's 17.7 power-play percentage.
3. Blue-line bounce back
Defenseman TJ Brodie could be in line for a bounce-back season because of the opportunities presented by new coach Bill Peters and the departure of defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes on June 23.
In the past two seasons, Calgary's share of 5-on-5 shot attempts fell from an SAT percentage of 52.82 to 50.24 when Brodie was on the ice for a relative SAT of minus-2.58 percent for the 28-year-old. That's a big drop from Brodie's relative SAT of plus-4.48 percent over his first six seasons in the NHL.
Brodie's numbers could recover if he is chosen to replace Hamilton on the top defense pair with Mark Giordano. Over the past two seasons, Giordano's relative SAT of plus-6.18 percent ranks third among NHL defensemen to play at least 40 games behind Hamilton (plus-7.19 percent) and Colin Miller of the Vegas Golden Knights (plus-6.71 percent).