Is Johnny Gaudreau’s lack of scoring on the road a problem?

Johnny Gaudreau is, clearly, an incredible player. Not even two seasons into his career, and he already has 114 points to his name. In just his sophomore year, he’s been hovering around point-per-game status all season, and is tied for top 10 in NHL scoring. All that, and he’s only 22 years old – not to mention one of the smallest players in the league.

Gaudreau’s size has been the most frequent criticism of him, and it’s even reached out to his scoring stats. Clearly, he can put the puck in the net – at home. Thirty-six of his 49 points so far this season have come at home, while he’s only scored 13 points on the road.

A coach can control match-ups at home, which could account for Gaudreau’s greater success at home than on the road this season: a suggestion that because he is smaller, he needs to be sheltered in order to play as an elite player. But is this actually the case?

The NHL’s top 10 scorers

There’s a four-way tie for ninth in overall scoring – Gaudreau, along with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Blake Wheeler all have 49 points so far this season – so really, I’m listing 12 players here. Fifty-odd games into this season, the following are the guys who have done the most offensively.

Gaudreau’s home and away splits are slanted, with a mere 27% of his points this season coming on the road. Is that the norm when comparing him amongst his peers, or is he an outlier?


Gaudreau is at the bottom of the pack. While most of the NHL’s top scorers score more at home than on the road – only Tyler Seguin, Artemi Panarin, and Joe Pavelski are the opposite – Gaudreau has by far the lowest road points percentage. He sits at 27%; the next lowest is Malkin, for whom 33% of his points have come on the road.

The Flames’ top 10 scorers

The NHL is one thing; the Calgary Flames are another. The Flames have been right at the bottom of league standings throughout this season. So maybe Gaudreau’s lack of points on the road simply stems from the team he’s on. The Flames do, after all, have a 15-11-0 record at home, but are 8-14-3 on the road.

So, are Gaudreau’s teammates suffering from a lack of ability to score on the road this season, as he seems to be?


It doesn’t quite appear to be the case. Only Sam Bennett and Michael Frolik have scored more on the road than at home; the rest of the Flames’ top scorers are all collecting most of their points at home. (Though this does, in part, reflect their records at and away from the Saddledome.)

Gaudreau once again carries the lowest road points percentage, although it is perhaps worth nothing that those who follow him – Sean Monahan at 31% and Mark Giordano at 33% – are the next lowest. Those three are the only Flames who have reached the 30 point mark so far this season.

What about Gaudreau’s rookie year?

This year, it appears Gaudreau is struggling to score on the road. His road points percentage is the lowest amongst his direct peers, whether they be his teammates or fellow top scorers league-wide.

But as Flames fans should know by now, percentages can be a very fickle thing. And for the attention Gaudreau’s lack of road scoring has gotten this season, it wasn’t addressed last season: because it wasn’t an issue last season.

In Gaudreau’s rookie year, he scored 64 points: 35 at home, and 29 on the road. That’s a road points percentage of 45%, which is about average for both the top scorers in the NHL this season, as well as this year’s top Flames scorers.

Is he actually facing more difficult competition on the road?

Via War on Ice, we can measure just how difficult the competition a player faces is via how much time it spends on the ice. This is a TOIC% stat, and it operates under the logic that better players will receive more ice time.

Here’s the breakdown for Gaudreau, both home and away, through his first two seasons in the NHL thus far:

Home Away
2014-15 17.45% 17.65%
2015-16 17.93% 17.81%

Gaudreau is facing more difficult competition this season than he did as a rookie. As a rookie, seven Flames regulars – Giordano, Brodie, Jones, Monahan, Glencross, Hudler, and Backlund – saw more difficult competition overall. This season, only Brodie and Giordano see tougher opponents.

Despite this, Gaudreau is still out-scoring his rookie self. He did face easier competition at home in his first season in the NHL, but it doesn’t look like that’s actually been the case this season.

But that’s just a quality of competition metric. What about when it comes to actually generating chances? Here are Gaudreau’s raw scoring chance numbers:

Home Away
2014-15 396 360
2015-16 299 254

Regardless of competition, Gaudreau is generating more chances at home than on the road. But while Monahan and Hudler were the only Flames forwards to have more scoring chances than Gaudreau in the 2014-15 season, this season, he’s the top forward. Monahan is second when it comes to generating chances, with 503 – 50 fewer than Gaudreau has had so far this season.

Last season, 45% of Gaudreau’s points came on the road, and so did 48% of his scoring chances. This season, only 27% of Gaudreau’s points are coming on the road… but so are 46% of his scoring chances.

Concluding thoughts

This is only Gaudreau’s second year in the NHL. It’s far too early to declare him one-dimensional and in need of favourable match-ups to put up elite numbers. In fact, he’s facing his most difficult competition yet while at home this season, and yet, that’s where he’s putting up the most of his points, so the factor of competition doesn’t appear to be a problem.

Gaudreau’s scoring splits may be something to keep an eye on, but considering how the only anomaly here is that he simply isn’t putting up points on the road this season – despite generating plenty of scoring chances and facing more difficult competition than he did the year before, when he did score on the road – his low points totals away from home could just be a case of randomness. 

One final thought, though: the Flames are above .500 at home, but well below a winning record on the road. Perhaps part of the reason for their follies is simply as Gaudreau goes, so do the Flames.

    • KACaribou

      Wow. I can’t tell if he’s pulling a “Ken M” (trolling) or is for real. Haha

      I agree with Apollo; last change and a weak supporting cast is probably a major factor in all this.

  • piscera.infada

    I don’t think the blame can be put solely on Gaudreau. It’s the entire team that affects the player. Gaudreau needs a legitimate Top RW and our other lines need to increase production. Right now other teams focus on shutting down Gaudreau, which is much easier on the road with last change. If the other lines improved, Gaudreau’s production would also improve.

    I think next season when we start brining in some more of our guys like Poirier and Mag’s, we will see the team improve significantly. The dead weight will be shed with some ending contracts and hopefully through trades or buyouts. The Flames could have a significant turn around next season. Although the goalie situation still needs to be sorted out. Ramo would be a great backup. But we need a legitimate starter and Hiller needs to go. Likely Treliving will focus on grabbing a goalie outside of our system and brining in our own guys to fill the others weak spots like RW.

  • RKD

    I think it becomes a problem if down the road he can’t fix it. He’s great at home and if he wants to be the next Patrick Kane, he’s got to figure away to produce on the road favourable matchups or not. I think that part of his game is still developing.

  • beloch

    Great article.

    What Gaudreau has done this season is especially impressive in light of the fact that he hasn’t really been in the ideal line for a sophomore. Monahan is still just 21 and his possession game needs work, just like any other 21-year-old in the NHL. On the opposite wing it’s been a revolving door of players, and only in the last couple of weeks has Hudler begun to look like the player he was last season.

    So, to sum up, Gaudreau’s production has improved while still playing with a developing center and, on average, less help from the opposite wing. If you look at it that way, scoring at a point per game is outstanding.

    • KACaribou

      I think the key here is that Calgary’s top scorer, by quite a bit, is 22 years old, he generates most of the offense on his own. Last year Hudler did a great job mentoring Johnny but with Johnny’s ascent and Hudler’s descent the student has out grown the the teacher. That leaves Johnny to try and generate offense with his 21 year old linemate who is still learning the league or on the leagues weakest power play.

      My only issue is, when is Hartley going to try Johnny on the PK. I realize there is a risk of him getting hurt but other players like Crosby play the PK and keep PPs honest. The bottom line is that with a strong consistent winger and a better PP he will threaten the scoring title. I can’t think of one gift goal he has had this year… No empty net goals that I can think of.

  • MattyFranchise

    Gaudreau’s road production isn’t something that I’m particularly concerned with at the moment.

    What’s concerning to me is that there are only 4 players with double digit goal totals so far this season (Gaudreau, Monahan, Bennett, Giordano) and the three forwards have a combined 390 games NHL experience.

    Too many passengers/under achievers on this team. When you have 2 of the top 3 scorers on this team playing on the same line it’s much easier to shut them down on the road.

    I’d say it’s a depth issue rather than solely a Gaudreau issue.

  • piscera.infada

    No, it’s not a “concern” regarding Johnny himself. Last season, he was almost 50-50 in this regard.

    I think two major things have contributed to his “road scoring issues”. First would be no balance on the top line. Johnny needs someone to help create space for him–not physically, but talent-wise. If teams had to key-in more on last year’s Hudler (for instance), Gaudreau would have more open ice (not to mention someone other than Monahan who could finish plays). Second is depth of talent on the team as a whole. A situation where he’s not the only dangerous player, would obviously be ideal, but even more so the Flames need to be a deeper team so that matching up against them isn’t so easy.

    That all said, I still think a lot of this is just one of those weird one-season trends that likely won’t continue for much longer. It happens in sports all the time.

    • supra steve


      Another highly skilled line takes a lot of heat off of JG. When the Flames have a #1 and a #1a line, then JG is that much harder to contain…and then watch what they can do.

  • MontanaMan

    Of course lack of scoring by Gaudreau on the road is a concern. He needs to be better and the team needs to be better away from the Dome. Is that really worthy of a question?

    • KACaribou

      Actually Montana Man, I think it is a deeply thought out question. A question which may require some action. Johnny Hockey scores at home but is only average on the road. Maybe this guy needs to go. Maybe we should package him up with Russel at the trade deadline. Great article Ari. You really hit on something this time. Right Montana Man. Wink Wink.

        • KACaribou

          So Ari can comment on any of the Flames, saying anything derogatory she wants and because you are trying to date her that’s okay? Noble chivalry my friend.

          I am big of free speech mind you. I didn’t care for the tone of the article so I said so. I also agree with Montana Man.

          I am not trying to date Ari, and I don’t care for a lot of her articles. Sue me. BTW Heil Mein Flames4Life!

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  • SmellOfVictory

    From what I’ve seen, it looks mostly like weird luck. He’s not playing particularly poorly on the road from what I’ve seen, and most of his scoring issues seem to be percentage-based, according to the numbers.