Flames at Worlds update: Playing for medals

There are just four games left at the 2018 IIHF World Championships: two semifinals, the bronze medal game, and the gold medal game. Three Flames remain in contention: Bill Peters as head coach of Team Canada, Mikael Backlund as captain of Team Sweden, and Johnny Gaudreau as one of Team USA’s top scorers.

Unfortunately, as was the case a week ago, real life has gotten in the way for many of us, so we’re reduced to a statistical look at the Flames at Worlds. Once again, though, if you’ve been able to watch, we’d really love to read your observations in the comments!

Team Canada: Bill Peters

The Canadians will face off against the Swiss in pursuit of their fourth straight medal at Worlds: they won gold in 2015 and 2016, and silver in 2017. Peters was an assistant coach on the 2015 team, and head coach on the 2016 edition. (He was not a member of the coaching staff in 2017.) The Swiss upset the Finns 3-2 to make it to the semi, while Canada defeated Russia 5-4 in overtime to earn their chance at a fourth straight medal. The Canadians had a 2-0 lead over Russia in the quarterfinal game, only to lose it; they would later make it 3-2 and 4-3, never trailing.

Team Canada only has two players in the top 30 in scoring: Connor McDavid with 16 points and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with eight. Marc-Edouard Vlasic is the only skater without any points. Curtis McElhinney has a 93.10 save percentage for Canada, while Darcy Kuemper has played the lion’s share of the netminding minutes, and has a 87.50 save percentage. He played in the quarterfinal contest.

Canada has outscored their opponents 32-16 throughout the tournament, and has only lost twice: a 5-4 shootout loss to the Americans in the first round robin game, and a 5-1 loss to Team Finland later in the round robin.

Team Sweden: Mikael Backlund

Team Sweden will face Team USA for the right to play for gold.

Through eight games, Backlund has two goals and four assists for six points, tied for fifth on the team. His 22 shots on net are the fourth most amongst all the Swedes. He has averaged 41 seconds a shift, and with 140:50 total played, is third amongst all Swedish forwards in ice time.

Backlund’s first goal was a powerplay marker against France in a 4-0 win. He followed that up with a primary even strength assist in a 4-3 overtime win over Slovakia. He then apparently went hard against the Swiss, scoring one even strength goal and registering a secondary powerplay assist and two primary assists (one at even strength, one on an empty netter) in a 5-3 win. His points so far have all come during round robin play.

Team USA: Johnny Gaudreau

Gaudreau has one goal and eight assists for nine points in eight games, third in Team USA scoring, and tied for 10th in points tournament-wide. His 16 shots on goal are tied for seventh on the team. He’s been averaging 46 seconds a shift, and with a total 130:35 played, is third amongst all American forwards in ice time.

Gaudreau has registered at least a point in every game he’s played except for one: a 6-2 loss to the Finns, the Americans’ only loss of the tournament.

He kicked things off with an even strength goal against the Canadians in a 5-4 shootout win (his shootout attempt was saved), and followed it up with a primary even strength assist in a 4-0 win over Denmark. Gaudreau had one primary powerplay assist in a 3-0 win over Germany, and another primary powerplay assist – in overtime – in a 3-2 overtime victory over Latvia. In a 13-1 blowout over South Korea, Gaudreau registered three assists: one secondary even strength, one primary powerplay, and one secondary powerplay. He registered a secondary even strength assist in a 9-3 win over Norway.

In the States’ 3-2 quarterfinal win over the Czech Republic, Gaudreau registered one secondary even strength assist.

Team Czech Republic: David Rittich

The Americans eliminated the Czechs from playoff contention in the quarterfinals; Rittich was the backup for that game.

Rittich played 182:08 for the Czechs, while teammate Pavel Francouz took the reins for 302:56. Rittich allowed six goals total on 60 shots for a 90.00 save percentage. He was in net for a 3-2 loss to the Swedes, a 4-3 win over the Russians, and 6-0 shutout of France during which he stopped all 10 shots he faced.

  • freethe flames

    You forgot to mention Derek Ryan who I suspect BP will be pushing BT to sign. I truly believe this will happen. Here’s the advantages to this kind of signing; he knows Peter’s system, good at face offs, can play throughout the line up, will likely be relatively inexpensive and shorter term, can produce offensively 38 points last year(7 I think at the IIHF) the only down side is he’s 31. He could be a perfect winger with Backs allowing other players to be slotted differently.

      • freethe flames

        While I understand all the hype about the big fish RoR, Taveras etc and frequently try and build trade ideas that I think would land us them I am not convinced that is what BT will do. Another player who could help us as a FA in my opinion is Jay Beagle another good face off guy @58%. (Ryan is aroun 56%) An example that I think would help us would be to trade for Jesper Fast of the Rangers; relatively cheap, signed for a few more years, RHS; middle 6 forward, and could be had w/o breaking the bank. I focus a bit on the Rangers as I think they will look to upgrade their D this summer. A Brodie for Fast and a draft pick might be doable. After examining cap space I think there are teams that might be willing move some of their RFA’s; I see the Penguins having cap issues,same with the Jets and even the Ducks and some of their guys might be able to had as either UFA’s or trades. All of this is just my speculation from the safe seats of fandom.

    • supra steve

      What’s it take to lure Ryan? 31 year old right shot C, 38 points in 80 games, v. good face off man. $1.425 million in 2017/18.

      I would guess he will be looking for both term and dollars as time is ticking down on his NHL career, and I’m sure there will be interest from other clubs as well. I don’t think 2 x $2 million will get it done…so what could?

  • The GREAT WW

    It will be nice for Rebar to take home a gold medal at his final appearance at the World’s as head coach…..

    Some other coach with have to coach McDavid, RNH, Nurse etc at the World’s next year….


  • Off the wall

    Canada vs Swiss
    USA vs Sweden
    Winner of those games compete for Gold medal.

    All I can say is I’m glad we’re not facing Finland in the semifinals.

    Sweden vs Canada for Gold?
    Or does USA pull off an upset and we see a classic USA vs Canada for the Gold?

    Can’t imagine what a disappointment it would be for Canada to lose to the Swiss.

    Our goaltending is our weak link.
    I hope McIhenny is up to the task!

  • Greg Gramlich

    Congratulations Peters you had arguably the best hockey player of this era and a host of top shelf players result nothing. Flame fans get ready for three years of non playoff mediocrity.

    • Derzie

      This is very true. Nothing about this outcome is surprising if you look at Peters record and weaknesses, one of which is not getting the best out of his players, offense especially. We’re in big trouble. I’ve never felt worse about the team direction.