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.
February 20 2017 11:00AM
The Nation Network Notebook is a regular feature that rounds up interesting news, stories, and rumours from around the NHL that don't quite deserve their own article.
Where have all the trades gone? By this time last year, we had already seen multiple deals happen. Also, Sidney Crosby scored his 1000th point in just his 757th career game, prompting debate as to whether he's been under-appreciated as a generational talent.
February 20 2017 10:00AM
The recent signing of Matt Bartkowski by the Calgary Flames has shone the light on June's expansion draft once again. As general manager Brad Treliving has confirmed, the team absolutely signed Bartkowksi with the expansion draft in mind as he meets the criteria of a blueliner they'd have to expose. So, it got me thinking: who would Vegas most likely target from the Flames roster come June? I came up with my top three.
February 20 2017 09:00AM
For Edmonton Oilers fans long since embittered by their team’s lengthy playoff drought, the club’s performance this season has been a welcome change. Now, in mid-February, the club is in such a good position that it would take a historic collapse to miss the playoffs.
February 18 2017 02:30PM
On Jan. 24, Elliotte Friedman offered up some thoughts about shift lengths in his 30 Thoughts column. Specifically, it was about how much time Erik Karlsson spends on the ice over the course of a single shift (#17):
A year ago, Karlsson played the most in the NHL (2,375:55) and had the longest shift length (1:04). But he was tied for 72nd in shifts per game and 34th in overall shifts taken. It’s not like he’s stapled to the bench, as his overall time is eighth. But he’s now second in the NHL in shifts per game, going from 27.1 to 32.2 per night. His length has dropped to 0:50, which is 38th. He’s agreed to stay out a little less, but the trade-off is minimal as they put him out there more.
What does this have to do with the Flames? Well, shorter shifts generally result in more effective shifts. And Johnny Gaudreau has gone from being tied for 64th among all forwards in average shift time in 2015-16 to fourth this season.
That's quite a jump, wouldn't you say?