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Looking at the Flames’ scoring to start the season

Through six games so far this season, the Calgary Flames have scored 17 goals. They’re 19th in the NHL in goals per game – a somewhat impressive feat, considering how they’ve been shut out twice already.

They have an even goal differential, though. They worked their way into a positive one by the second game of the season; it’s just that losing big to the Ottawa Senators put a bit of the brakes on things.

Still: a game with six goals, a game with five goals, one with four, one with two, and two with zero. It’s early yet, but the Flames appear to be in a bit of a “go big or go home” situation to start 2017-18.

Let’s do a quick overview of who’s been scoring thus far.

The leader comes as no surprise: Johnny Gaudreau has nine points in six games already. He’s tied for 11th in scoring league-wide; almost everyone above him has played one more game than he has. He’s gotten off to a fantastic start.

Gaudreau has displayed point-per-game potential since his sophomore season, when he scored 78 points over 79 games. And while it’s highly unlikely he finishes the season with the 123 points he’s currently on pace for, this is an extremely welcome start – and really calls back to just how crucial training camp is. In 2016-17, Gaudreau nearly missed the start of the season, and had three points through the first six games. This year, he hasn’t missed a beat, and has an early start that matches expectations.

Following up Gaudreau are Sean Monahan – expected – and T.J. Brodie – much less so – with six points in six games each. At least in recent years, Monahan has seemed fated to follow up right behind Gaudreau in scoring; that he leads the Flames with three goals right isn’t surprising. Brodie, on the other hand, is riding off of the back of his second ever four-point game – he’ll likely be passed by Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton soon enough, but for now, his early success is a positive.

Matthew Tkachuk follows up with five points in six games, while Michael Frolik and the aforementioned Hamilton have four each. Mikael Backlund, Kris Versteeg, and Giordano all clock in with three in six.

So, to quickly recap: the Flames have one player over a point per game, two players at it, and six players at half a point per game or more. These nine players make up the top three defencemen, two-thirds of the top line, the entire shutdown line, and a third liner who gets powerplay time.

So far, so good: most of the players you’d expect to produce for the Flames have been doing just that.

Seven Flames have one point each: Troy Brouwer, Micheal Ferland, Freddie Hamilton, Travis Hamonic, Jaromir Jagr, Curtis Lazar, and Michael Stone.

Of this group, probably the only one you can really expect to break out sooner rather than later is Jagr. He has a history of being one of the best of all time, after all, and if anybody benefited from the Flames’ four-day break between games, it was him. Now, it appears he’ll be playing on the top line, alongside the Flames’ top two scorers – and now that Jagr is in all likelihood much more prepared for NHL hockey (remember how missing training can hurt a player’s start to the year?), we could see him breaking out rather soon.

Everyone else is about where you’d expect them – except perhaps Ferland, who may not be suited for a top line role, but will hopefully prove himself to be better than the others in this group as the season plays out.

Players with no points as of yet are Matt Bartkowski, Sam Bennett, Tanner Glass, and Matt Stajan. Of this group, Bennett is the only major concern – and that’s rather fortunate for the team overall, to have just one player of expected prominence faltering to start the season. (Two, if you count Ferland.)

There can always be more scoring – and fewer shutouts – but right now, the Flames look like they might just be in a pretty decent spot, with improvement quite possibly on its way sooner rather than later, at no cost.

  • TurkeyLips

    Having Brodie reinvigorated with an able partner is exactly what that trade was supposed to accomplish. Acquiring Harmonic was the best move this offseason. Our top four is simply fearsome.

  • Derzie

    I’m a big believer in goal differential. Even right now with stellar goaltending puts us as one of the better non-playoff teams. The season is young but that’s what we’ve seen so far.

    • Scary Gary

      That’s Ludacris, small sample size aside we’re still 15th in the league in differential (0). To put that into context Pittsburg is 23rd, Anaheim is 26th and Edmonton is 27th.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Jankowski in a 3rd line center role could produce 30 to 40 points based on last season’s NHLE and this year’s success so far. I’ve never been on the “move Bennett to the wing” train – but if things don’t change for Bennett by American Thanksgiving… even I might start to consider it. It’s not like he can’t be tried at center again next year. This could make a fearsome top 9 and a decent 4th line as well:

    Johnny/Monny/Jagr
    Tkachuk/Backlund/Frolik
    Bennett/Jankowski/Ferland-Versteeg
    Ferland-Versteeg/Lazar/Brouwer

  • Alberta Ice

    What a streaky offense. They were non-existent in the first game with the Oilers. They revved up in the second game against the Jets. Back and forth against the Kings. Well balanced against the Ducks. Sadly absent against the Senators. Rolling again against the Canucks in their last game. When this team gets in high gear offensively, they are as good as any team. Unfortunately, it shows up rather randomly (and maybe the multitude of penalty kill times has something to do with that; and, oh, yeah, and maybe the opponent’s play has something to do with that too). Here’s trusting the offensive play becomes more consistent with JG, JJ, SM leading the way!

  • Stu Cazz

    Acquiring a talented high scoring RW will assure a deep playoff run. It will be costly but Treliving can make it happen. Internally Foo, Mangiapane, Poirier not ready…..

  • Puckhead

    The streaky scoring goes hand-in-hand with the teams up and down play to start the season. Once they tighten up defensively and settle into a more consistent style of play, things will be fine and the +/- will improve.

  • buts

    The top 4 in Stockton are better than the bottom 4 here. It’s Smith behind our 4-2 record and the flames are not icing there best line-up. I hope management gets there act together by making the proper moves regarding personnel and positions. How much longer do we have to watch the insanity of giving Brouwer opportunity after opportunity and Stajan, Bart playing while Janko, Kulak and Hathaway should be playing. I sure hope Bennett gets going but if he has to play on the wing for a while it’s not the end of the world.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Still not a Brouwer fan, but I don’t mind him on the PK. He has been pretty consistent there. Stajan, sadly, has been disappointing. Keep him off the PP and away from Bennett and things are fine. Janko should be on the main team, at least as a #4 center. But the 4th line should have a better LW than Glass.

      Maybe we could see the following:
      Johnny-Monahan-Jagr
      Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik
      Ferland-Bennett-Versteeg
      Lazar-Janko-Brouwer

      You can always swap Lazar with Versteeg, but at least this way Bennett gets a vet on his line, and Lazar can earn his way up the lineup.

    • flames2015

      I’m not a fan of Bartkowski, however he can skate and does show NHL competence from time to time. But all those who advocate for Kulak, did you watch him in the preseason? He was horrible. He had the chance to show that he could compete and fight for a sppt and he didn’t step up. Unless there is an injury, he will likely continue sitting in the press box.

      • FlamesFanOtherCity

        Bart was bad in pre-season too, but won the job over the RHS Andersson. The problem (or only good thing) with Bart is that you are seeing the best he can offer. Kulak has shown better than than previously, but not this year. He’s still a work in progress that could be very good.

  • McRib

    People are on here discussing streaking scoring, you know what type of teams don’t have streaky scoring? Teams with four lines of skilled players!!! Time to get ride of the grinders (Brouwer, Glass) and call up Jankowski, Mangiapane.