Coming into this season, not much was expected of the Calgary Flames.
When it comes to Canadian NHL teams, most people have their eyes on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, and Edmonton Oilers. It’s easy to see why considering the number of stars that play for these clubs.
With that said, there is one Canadian club that continues to not get the attention that they deserve and that is the Calgary Flames. Believe it or not, the Flames have more points than all of these clubs and have as good a shot as any to be extremely relevant come April.
As of this writing, the Flames are the second best team in the NHL. Sure, they are still eight points behind the league’s best team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, but nevertheless, the Flames are having an outstanding season.
One of the main reasons why the team has been so good this season is because of the play of 25-year-old Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau is absolutely lighting it up this season and what’s scary is that there is still a half a season left to play.
Gaudreau currently leads the team with 64 points (26 goals and 38 assists). That puts him 10 points ahead of the team’s second leading scorer, Sean Monahan (23 goals and 31 assists for 54 points), and 14 points ahead of the club’s third-leading scorer, Elias Lindholm (20 goals and 30 assists for 50 points).
Clearly, it has already been quite the season for the Flames’ and one of the league’s best player this season. He was named to his fifth straight All-Star game, was the league’s player of the week for the week of December 31, and come to the end of the season, I would not be surprised if his name comes up as a Hart Trophy candidate as the league’s most valuable player.
For starters, he is what makes this team’s offense go. Whether it’s putting the puck in the net (26 goals), setting his teammates up (38 assists), or making his linemates and teammates better, the Flames’ offense starts and ends with him.
Secondly, when Gaudreau is on his game, the rest of the team plays better. The team is currently second in the league in goals scored with 157 goals in 44 games, which means they are close to scoring about four goals per game.
Gaudreau’s strong play has helped his two linemates, Monahan and Lindholm, considerably. He knows where to find them on the ice and in turn, Monahan and Lindholm reap the benefits, as they did the week of December 31 when they racked up nine and seven points, respectively.
Lastly, Gaudreau is easily his team’s most important player. In an article in the Calgary Sun by Wes Gilbertson, a few of Gaudreau’s teammates alluded to that fact, especially the team’s captain Mark Giordano.
“If you get to see him like we do every day, night in and night out, in the big moments . . . ” started Giordano, generating some awards buzz of his own as a Norris Trophy frontrunner. “I think the Hart Trophy should be given to the guys who come up in the big moments and help their team win games. And who has done that better than him this year, really? There are a select few guys who can do what he’s been doing.”
With both Gaudreau and the Flames playing really well, it will be interesting to see how long this flame stays lit.