Through eight games this season, the Calgary Flames are one of the NHL’s top-scoring teams. Their 25 goals has them fifth in league scoring.
That’s not an entirely fair observation to make, though; the Anaheim Ducks are the only other team to have played eight games so far this season. (They’re at 21 goals, for the record.) But when we break it down to goals per game, the Flames sit tied for 12th in the NHL with three goals exact per. (Remember that Kris Versteeg’s shootout winner counts as one of their 25.)
It’s early yet, but who’s been their biggest scorer? Well… kind of everybody.
Three players on the Flames have three goals each: Troy Brouwer, Michael Frolik, and Sean Monahan. Another five have two each: Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferland, Johnny Gaudreau, Kris Versteeg, and Dennis Wideman. Another five players have a goal each themselves.
That leaves eight players on the Flames who have yet to score a goal, five of whom have played every game thus far.
For comparison’s sake, the top-scoring team in the NHL right now, the New York Rangers, have had 12 different goal scorers, one less than the Flames, so this isn’t particularly impressive.
What’s been cool to see, though, is just how balanced the Flames’ offensive numbers have been.
Brouwer leads the Flames in scoring with six points. Bennett, Gaudreau, and Mark Giordano follow behind him with five. Six different players have four points. Three have three, two have two, and four have one. The only skaters who have yet to record a point for the Flames are Freddie Hamilton and Nicklas Grossmann, and they’re the 13th forward and eighth defenceman, respectively, having only played two games each.
This speaks to two things: the slow start the Flames’ top players have had, as nobody as particularly distinguished themselves yet; and how balanced the lineup as a whole is. It’s not elite – there’s still a lot of work to be done – but most players dressed have had no problems contributing offensively.
Let’s take a look at the point distribution via the current incarnation of the Flames’ forward lineup.
Gaudreau (5) – Monahan (3) – Chiasson (1)
Versteeg (4) – Bennett (5) – Brouwer (6)
Tkachuk (2) – Backlund (4) – Frolik (4)
Ferland (4) – Stajan (4) – Bouma (1)
The players who have had it together since the start of the season have been mostly older guys, and it shows in their point distributions. Brouwer, Backlund, Frolik, Ferland, and Stajan have all been performing well game in and game out, so it isn’t surprising to see them all with at least four points each. It’s especially pleasant for Ferland and Stajan: it took Ferland 26 games to reach four points last season, while Stajan has only been hitting 17 points the past two seasons.
Now that players like Gaudreau and Bennett are waking up, we’re seeing their numbers rapidly rise to the top of team scoring, too. (Gaudreau currently leads the Flames in getting pucks on net with 26 shots, as well.) Versteeg has also suddenly inserted himself into the fray, while Monahan has been coming along, particularly as one of the team’s top goal scorers.
The only major hole at the moment is who plays with Gaudreau and Monahan. Well, that and who plays with Ferland and Stajan (Bouma has just three shots on net so far; only Grossmann, Hamilton, and Kulak have fewer), but otherwise, this lineup is capable of scoring across the board. Now that the team appears to be getting things going, we should see more separation from the top players – but if all four lines can keep up this level of scoring, the forward group should be in fine shape.
Giordano and Wideman are the current defence leaders, with five and four points, respectively. Courtesy of the powerplay, Wideman is the current goal-scoring leader. After them, Jyrki Jokipakka and Dougie Hamilton have three each, while Deryk Engelland is enjoying an early season two-point surge.
T.J. Brodie and Brett Kulak bring up the rear with one point each. Brodie’s totals are probably the most disappointing out of all of the skaters right now, but it’s also still rather early in the season. However, last season, in his first eight games back from injury, he was already up to four points; hopefully, with the team as a whole appearing to get better, his numbers will come up with it. Brodie isn’t most known for being an offensive player, but he’s scored over 40 points the past two seasons, and those are numbers that will be missed if they don’t return.
Meanwhile, we should still be able to look towards Giordano and Hamilton in particular for offence from the blueline. Hamilton is second on the team in shots on net with 22, while Giordano is third with 20. Those two, plus Gaudreau, are the only players to have 20+ shots so far, so we can probably still expect contributions from the backend on the scoresheet.