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.