Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Flames at Worlds update: One week in

The 2018 IIHF World Championships are currently a week in.

Unfortunately, due to time zones, scheduling, and all around real life getting in the way, none of us here at FlamesNation have really been able to watch much of the games. To that end, here’s a statistical update on the Flames’ four representatives – Team Canada head coach Bill Peters, Team Czech Republic goaltender David Rittich, Team Sweden captain Mikael Backlund, and Team USA forward Johnny Gaudreau – through roughly the first half of the round robin.

If you’ve been able to watch the games and have noted what the Flames have been doing, we encourage you to leave your observations in the comments!

Team Canada: Bill Peters

Canada, so far, is tied for first in Group B with three wins and one shootout loss. They have defeated Team Korea 10-0, Team Denmark 7-1, and Team Norway 5-0. They’ve lost the tiebreaker, however, by virtue of the United States – the other team in first place – defeating Canada 5-4 in a shootout.

The Canadians are crushing it, with 26 goals for – the most in the tournament – and just six goals against, tied for third fewest allowed. Their +20 goal differential is tied with the Finns for best in the tournament.

Team Canada has just one scorer in the top 10, however (Connor McDavid). He’s tied for third in tournament scoring; only two Finns – Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, coincidentally two Carolina teammates – have outscored him.

The Canadians have three games remaining in the round robin.

Team Czech Republic: David Rittich

Rittich has started in two of the four games the Czechs have played so far: a 3-2 loss to Sweden, and a 4-3 overtime win over Russia. He stopped 24 of 27 shots against the Swedes and 20 of 23 against the Russians; so far, his .8800 save percentages is 16th among all goalies tournament-wide.

Rittich’s teammate, Pavel Francouz – a 27-year-old playing in the KHL – has also played in two games and won one, and his .8696 save percentage is 18th among all goalies. It looks like things are roughly neck-in-neck for them, perhaps with Rittich having the slight edge. The Czechs are currently in fifth place in Group A, with three games to go.

Team Sweden: Mikael Backlund

Backlund currently has just one goal through four games: a powerplay goal against the French in a 4-0 win. The Swedes have scored 19 goals through their four games, so that Backlund – who is tied for 12th in team scoring – has been having trouble finding the net is at least a little eyebrow raising, especially when you consider his 68:29 played is third in Swedish forward ice time. Backlund does, however, have nine shots through four games: tied for sixth amongst all Swedes.

Sweden has another three games left to play in the round robin. They’re currently first place in Group A.

Team USA: Johnny Gaudreau

Gaudreau has one goal and three assists for four points through four games: an even strength goal against Canada, an even strength primary assist against Denmark, a powerplay primary assist against Germany, and a powerplay primary assist in overtime against Latvia. Gaudreau’s four points have him tied for fourth on team USA, while his seven shots have him tied for eighth on the team. He has played a nice 69:00 total, third on the Americans in forward ice time.

The States have three games left in the round robin. They’re currently in first place in Group B.

    • Kevin R

      But but his corsi is good with all those shots. I think Backlund is a great defensively responsible centre, matches well with Frolik. He’s a little over paid but better than the devil you know than the devil you don’t. It’s why this 3M line everyone purrs about needs to be over. Tkachuk needs to be a big piece of a scoring line. Tavares &/or O’Reilly need to be at the top of Tre’s wish/shopping list next month. Backlund & Frolik need to be bumped down to 3rd line, which instantly upgrades our bottom 6.

    • Honkydonk

      How about we start with putting a team together that offensively dominates 5v5 and then worry about penalty kill and Corsi this and that.

      Just get me four centres that can pass and carry a puck and wingers that can shoot and control the boards already.

      This yea but Backlund has good Corsi crap is so 2001. Every time he enters the offensive zone the play either dies or a shot is made from far out away from a high danger zone. I know Backlund we have the same tailor and he’s a nice guy but games are still won by the tram that scores the most goals buzzer time no?

  • Honkydonk

    Rittich is not an NHL goalie period and I do not see him ever becoming one. Yet again he’s below .900 in SVP and you need at least that’s to be acceptable. Given he’s what 25 now? It’s a bust with him I think

    • Kevin R

      My opinion skews over to your side if we are talking about a #1 goalie. But as a backup, his sample size is small & from eye test, he will be as good & cheaper than several backup options that will probably be available this summer. I say save the assets to get that #2C for Tkachuk & see how Riitch does in a backup role this upcoming year & hope like heck one of Parsons or Gilles factor large into the decision making we will have in nets this time next year.

        • Kevin R

          Well my dog was up earlier than usual pacing & had to let him out for a dump. So now I have had 2 more coffee’s than usual. It’s the only thing I can think why :-}

      • Honkydonk

        We are not in the position to make back up goalie decisions and saying that’s ok. Our back up needs to have future starter potential!

        We have Smith at the back end of his career here. He could get injured, play bad there are so many variables and thus we go and turn this team around only to get screwed with goal tending again?

        I mean come on

      • cberg

        Time to let Rittich go and bring up Gillies as the NHL back-up. That frees the starters spot in Stockton for Parsons. If they all crap out then its back to square one after next year but I believe this gives both of the young goalies the opportunity and likely confidence to progress. Keeping Rittich just clogs up Stockton too much and I think we all agree he doesn’t look like and NHL starter.

        • Rudy27

          I’m still not sold on Gillies over Rittich. From the eye test, it appears to me that Rittich is less frantic and has a better sense of where his net is. Gillies does have good size though, and if he could clean up the basics could be a future starter. Too early to tell for me.
          Maybe Pekka Rinne comes free this or next season to replace Smith. Had a bad playoff against the Jets, but is in the running for the Vezina!

  • SgtRoadBlock

    Backland is Stajan 2.0 in the long run…3rd or 4th line mins and will play on the pk..Peters said he about pairs not Lines so next season going to be Fun,
    i pre order 7lbs of Bubble wrap for this Bubble team 🙂

        • Raffydog

          Ya you’re right, I’m sorry, he is doing a great job. Still a bubble team, still hasn’t addressed the lack of secondary scoring, still no capable goalies, one of the worst defences in the league, hired Gully who is possibly the worst coach in Flames history, signed Brouwer to a ridiculous contract, resigned Backlund to a ridiculous contract, went all in on Hamonic, and has amassed the largest collection of fourth line has beens in the league. But other than all that he has done a great job.

    • cberg

      I believe Sweden is the only undefeated team left, so I’d say he’s been doing quite well as Captain leading the team. Scoring isn’t the only important thing in hockey, as far as I can tell.

  • cberg

    Gaudreau has been playing well, making some incredible set-ups for key goals while at the same time occasionally trying to do too much and getting stripped. About normal. He’s definitely one of the best guys on the team but it sure would be nice if he shot more because he’s overemphasizing assists to this point.

  • Jobu

    If Peter’s can give us a forecheck like the Jets apply, then we’ll do OK. Those guys are all over the pass recipient before they even receive the puck and they do it in all zones. Its amazing to watch!

      • Derzie

        “more incessant checking” and “great to watch” are at odds with each other. The teams left are SO stifling that it is an absolute bore to watch. No time and space for anybody. Skill is the entertainment, stifling forechecking and backchecking wins games but it is so incredibly uneventful.