The playoffs are here! Tonight the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway and on tonight’s slate of games will be Johnny Gaudreau and the Calgary Flames visiting the Vancouver Canucks for game one of their series. Gaudreau, or Johnny Hockey, finished the regular season tied for the lead in rookie scoring with Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators with 64-points.
Gaudreau, who was a fourth round selection (104th overall) by the Flames in the 2011 Draft burst onto the scene this season. He grabbed the NHL Rookie Of The Month tittle in both December and March, and was a major reason the Flames marched through the second half of the season, eliminated the reigning Stanley Cup Champs and qualified for the playoffs for the first times in five years.
Now the regular season is over and although Johnny Hockey has done enough to likely get him in the running for the Calder Trophy, it is time to for playoff hockey and all those regular seasons accomplishments to be forgotten.
It will be a bit of a homecoming for Gaudreau when he steps on the ice at Rogers Arena for his first ever post season game. Gaudreau made his NHL debut in Vancouver, way back on April 13th, 2014, he had one shot, one goal and just over 15-minutes of ice time. Gaudreau’s goal was the Flames’ lone goal in a 5-1 loss to the Canucks.
Now, just over a year later, Gaudreau will take to the ice in Vancouver for another first. Except this time he will not be stepping on the ice for the first time as a wide-eyed rookie. Instead, Gaudreau will be going into tonight’s game and the rest of the playoffs as a certified leader of this team, looked to to score big time goals and log big time minutes.
If the Flames want to advance to the next round, the Flames will need just that from Gaudreau. He will have to transform from “Johnny Hockey” into “Johnny Playoffs”. Now is not the time for the Flames’ second leading scorer, behind only veteran Jiri Hudler, to start playing like a rookie.
Here are two reasons why it’s doubtful Gaudreau will stumble in the post season.
1. He’s Been The Rookie Before
Gaudreau has had a weird amount of success as a first timer.
Like I mentioned earlier, Gaudreau scored his first NHL goal, on his first shot in his first game. That’s special.
Gaudreau was a part of the United State World Junior Championship team that won gold back in 2013, his first time representing the States. Gaudreau grabbed seven goals and nine points in seven games played for the States. Gaudreau lead the tournament in goals that year, where he recorded a hat-trick in the quarter finals against the Czech Republic and added another two goals against Canada in the semi-finals.
Along with his gold medal, Gaudreau has won the USHL’s Clark Cup where he lead the Dubuque Fighting Saints to a 37-14-9 regular season record before going 9-2 in the playoffs, as a rookie. Gaudreau was named the USHL’s Rookie Of The Year that year.
Moving onto college and Gaudreau’s time at Boston College it should not surprise anyone his success and his role with the Eagles in his first year. Gaudreau scored 21-goals and 44-points in 44-games for Boston College leading all rookies in scoring. Gaudreau was named “Beanpot MVP” after he helped Boston College win the Beanpot tournament for the third year in a row.
Finally, Gaudreau scored a highlight reel goal for Boston College in the 2012 NCAA Frozen Four National Championship game to all but seal the game for the Eagle. Boy, was it a beauty.
If anyone has a little rookie magic in them that could be used to make a run at the Stanley Cup, it would probably be Gaudreau.
2. Leadership Surrounding Him
While we downplayed Gaudreau’s rookie status in the section above, if Gaudreau does in fact fall into a little case of the rookie jitters he can look to his side at any time of the game and likely get some calming advice.
Gaudreau is on the Flames’ top line along with Hudler and Sean Monahan. Monahan is fresh out of his rookie season and Hudler is an NHL veteran with a Stanley Cup to his name. The three have gelled together this season and carried the Flames to the post season.
If Gaudreau needs a calming voice or some reassurance he can go to Monahan who was in the same shoes as Gaudreau as a rookie last season, or he can look to Hudler who has over 600-games under his belt. It is very much like Hudler is the father, while Monahan is the older brother showing his kid brother, Gaudreau, the ropes.
Tonight could be the start to another chapter of Johnny Gaudreau’s storied rookie accomplishments.