Calgary Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau putting up MVP numbers
By Neil Becker
The major first-half story which played out west to rave reviews involves the strong exciting play of Calgary Flames shifty forward Johnny Gaudreau.
Last season, this 5- foot 9, 165- pound dynamic playmaker played 56 games and scored 19 goals along with a career-low of 49 points which didn’t go unnoticed around the league. Affectionately known as ‘Johnny Hockey,’ Gaudreau’s play late last year heated up once Matthew Tkachuk became his linemate. Meanwhile also excelling on that first line is the reliable Elias Lindholm who finished the first half with a solid 37 points.
Gaudreau, who is now in the final year of a six-year $40.5 million dollar contract has earned the right to play in a few days at what will be his sixth career NHL all-star game. As the season hits that magical halfway mark, Gaudreau has scored 18 goals and sits number one on Flames team with 54 points in 42 games.
Referred to as one of the most electrifying players in sports, Gaudreau early last month received some strong praise from his coach Darryl Sutter who referred to him as the most dangerous 200- foot player.
In Calgary’s first two games back from their COVID-19 pause, Gaudreau accumulated six points and now only trails Hockey Hall of Famers Jarome Iginla, Al MacInnis, along with Joe Nieuwendyk, Theo Fleury, Gary Suter, and Kent Nilsson for seventh on the Flames all-time franchise point list.
Throughout the first half, Gaudreau has thrived in clutch situations and has been the model of consistency. Whether it be scoring an early overtime goal in a 1-0 late January win against the Vancouver Canucks or scoring along with Tkachuk shootout goals in pacing the Flames to an early December 4-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks, ‘Johnny Hockey’ has definitely once more been on top of his game. Leading up to the All-Star Game, Gaudreau has been on fire in tallying three goals along with 16 points in his last nine games. Other examples to illustrate his all-around game include149 shots on net and posting a sold +30. He also finished strong by recording seven shots on goal and drawing a key assist during a 4-2 February 2nd road win against the Arizona Coyotes.
Meanwhile in Calgary also playing lights out have been 24- year-old Matthew Tkachuk, who has registered 20 goals along with 45 points and a +24 along with of course Lindholm who along with 37 points, is also a +29.
The consistency and growth as a first-line have Flames fans buzzing in anticipation. Flames management must make that statement this summer by signing Gaudreau who becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent.