I forgive Jim Hughson. I forgive him, for now, for almost all of his past Canucks-centric homerisms, because that call was perfect.
Johnny Gaudreau is perfect. And the Flames somehow, with the aid of insane comebacks and three overtime wins, were perfect in their five-game homestand.
How good is Johnny Gaudreau? So good
Gaudreau scored two goals, put up an assist (on the overtime winner, no less – that’s now six overtime points on seven wins), had six shots on net, played 21:54 (the most out of all Flames forwards), and straight up dominated.
Though it kind of says it all when, once you hop over the boards for your overtime shift, the entire building starts going nuts. And he hadn’t even done anything yet, just stepped on the ice. Everyone was waiting for another hat trick, and while it didn’t materialize, he had two extremely good chances.
In this homestand, Gaudreau scored seven goals and 10 points. Remember when it took him 13 games to get his second goal of the season, but he was scoring assists left and right in between? That seems so far away now, as Gaudreau leads the Flames with 12 goals.
He also leads the team with 31 points. That’s seventh in the entire NHL, and he’s played one fewer game than everyone above him.
Gaudreau, through 110 NHL games, has scored 96 points. That’s .87 points per game, and I am now officially firmly of the belief that at some point, he becomes a full-fledged point-per-game player. I don’t know how long it will last, but I’m pretty sure it happens at some point.
A point per game player. For a kid taken in the fourth round. Who is now four points away from having triple digits on the scoresheet.
There went the positive possession game
Yesterday, we were talking a little bit about how the Flames have been steadily improving in an area that’s typically an indicator for long-term success: possession. Their corsi has been on the up and up, particularly over the last 10 games or so.
They were not a positive possession team last night, and it’s because they were ragdolled in the third.
They were a 50.00% team in the first period; in the second, when they quickly took that 2-1 lead at the end, they were a 54.29% team. All’s good, right? Score another quick two goals at the start of the third, and then you just have to… settle in… and… let the team that played the night before run all over you in a desperate attempt to tie up the game… and have them succeed.
The Flames were a 36.84% CF team in the third which is, well, bad.
They redeemed themselves with a 60.00% overtime – and actually scored the overtime goal, the ultimate redemption – but ended the night a 47.32% CF team. Which isn’t terrible! It’s not like they got their faces kicked in.
Except for the third period. Where they rolled over and tried to die. Which led to getting shelled, and taking two penalties in the game’s final four minutes.
The Flames have won two games by more than one goal all season long. Five regulation wins. Sure, they’re getting the job done when it counts, but they’re seriously playing by the skin of their teeth, and I have my doubts for how long they’ll be able to keep it up.
It’s fun, though.
That is a keyboard smash. Keyboard smashes are typically used by Internet users when expressing extreme emotions, be they joy or frustration or everything in between.
That is a keyboard smash of frustration.
Zero for three on the power play. (And keeping Joe Colborne right on the first power play unit even after one of the laziest back checks ever was… something.) And okay, four or five on the penalty kill isn’t bad at all, but that power play goal was almost a backbreaker.
And then there’s the .862 save percentage.
It’s been the same damn story all season long, and it’s beyond frustrating at this point.
I want to give the goalies the benefit of the doubt, I really do. Absolutely nothing over the hundreds of NHL games Jonas Hiller has played suggests he should be a sub-.900 goaltender, but this season, he is. Maybe he just hit rock bottom this season because he got older, the game finally taxed him out, the flu, or for no apparent reason. He ended the 2014-15 season with excellent save percentages, started the 2015-16 season with a .933, and has matched that only once thereafter.
I’m nominating that second goal against as the absolute worst, most unforgivable one, though. Mere seconds after the Flames took a 4-1 lead, not paying attention, and to Tanner Glass of all people? Come on.
Raymond – Backlund – Frolik
What. A. Line.
They had no offensive zone starts. Like, 0.00%. And yet Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik, who were basically made to play with each other, led the way with the Flames’ ES CF: 63.16% for Backlund, 61.11% for Frolik. Colborne was the only other positive possession player, and not by nearly as much (53.33%), and over less ice time.
Frolik and Backlund were monsters on the penalty kill, playing 4:11 and 3:46, respectively. Backlund even almost got a shorthanded goal, and Frolik actually did end up with an assist. They were relied on heavily to take on some of the toughest minutes, and they came through.
(Although this does beg a question. Frolik is fourth on the Flames with 16 points scored. And the reason he never gets power play time is…?)
Former perpetual healthy scratch Mason Raymond seems to have found a new home on this line, and the three of them are clicking. Raymond is absolutely the passenger, but he’s working well with his new linemates, and it’s hard to see reason to scratch him again, or break them up.
He doesn’t put up the numbers his linemates do, but he is an effective complimentary piece. And the line was rolling.