What's wrong with Johnny Gaudreau?

Kent Wilson
February 20 2017 12:00PM

It's been a rough season for the Flames' most dangerous player. 

With 11 goals and 35 points in 49 games, Gaudreau is on track to put up his worst goal per game (0.22) and points per game (0.71) pace since entering the league. He has just two goals in his last 22 contests and was recently demoted the fourth line for a few periods after a poor turnover that led to a goal against. On top of all that, he's an unsightly -18. 

A lot of theories have cropped up to explain Gaudreau's struggles. Eric Francis and Brian McGrattan suggested the team isn't tough enough to protect Gaudreau, leading to less scoring. Many fans have pointed to Glen Gulutzan as the culprit, with the notion that the new bench boss' systems are suppressing his stars' scoring. I've also seen the theory that the league has "adapted" to Gaudreau and he has to find new ways to generate points or that the player suffers from off-ice issues.

Out of curiosity, I took a look at Gaudreau's numbers to see what they could reveal. Have his coach or teammates somehow failed him, leading to fewer chances and shots? Has the league figured out how to keep Gaudreau away from the dangerous areas? Is he partying too much?

Spoiler alert: Probably not.   

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Will the Flames miss Troy Brouwer?

Kent Wilson
December 29 2016 02:00PM

When Troy Brouwer was signed by the Flames this summer to a four-year, $18M deal, many of us at FN were... skeptical. The conventional wisdom was the Flames needed Brouwer's size and experience to help stabilize the forward group, but his age and underlying results suggested the club was making a bad bet

With Brouwer out for weeks with a hand injury, now seems like a good time to evaluate the early returns on Brad Treliving's biggest offseason UFA signing. Will the Flames be worse in absence? Or is this injury a secret boon for the club? 

The truth is it's kind of both (but mostly the latter).

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The Flames' top 5 bright spots

Kent Wilson
November 18 2016 08:00AM

It's been a bad start to the Flames 2016-17 season. Actually, that's an understatement - it's been a terrible, nightmarish start to the season. The special teams are still awful, the goaltending is still underwhelming and all the stars have struggled in unison. Calgary is only a few places out of last place because they've played more games than most everyone else.

So it's been rough.

But it hasn't been all bad. In fact, the terrible record is actually overshadowing some pleasant surprises and enduring bright spots that have managed pop up through the gloom so far. 

So without further adieu here's the five best things about the Flames year so far.

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A look at the Flames' penalty problems

Kent Wilson
November 01 2016 10:00AM

For the past two years, the Calgary Flames were one of the least penalized teams in the league. In 2014-15, they were shorthanded a league low 186 times (one of the many reasons they were able to make the playoffs that year). Last year, they gave up just 233 power plays, good for fifth best in the NHL. 

This season has not started off on the same foot, however. Calgary has already been shorthanded 43 times in just 10 games, the second most in the NHL. That rate comes out to over four PKs per game and projects to a total of 353 (!!) over the course of the season. To put that in perspective, the Arizona Coyotes gave up a league worst 304 PPs last year.

To understand what's going on I took a look at who is taking penalties and how it relates to the club's rates from last year. 

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Should the Flames sign any of their PTOs?

Kent Wilson
October 05 2016 08:00AM

Training camp is nearing its end and the Calgary Flames still have three players hanging around on professional tryouts: Chris Higgins, Lauri Korpikosi and Nicklas Grossmann. It could be that these guys are just extra bodies to fill the veteran quota for the last two exhibition games - or it could be that the club is actually considering keeping one of them around.

Let's not bury the lede here. No, the Flames shouldn't sign any of their PTOs. The club's cap situation is precarious as things stand, and none of the players offer anything that can't be found elsewhere for nothing. 

Shorter version: they're all pretty lousy. 

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