After a Great Regular Season, South Jersey’s Johnny Gaudreau Experiences Frustration in the NHL Playoffs

After a Great Regular Season, South Jersey’s Johnny Gaudreau Experiences Frustration in the NHL Playoffs
It was another great regular season for South Jersey’s Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames, but the postseason was another story.
 
Gaudreau, who spent his first three seasons starring for Gloucester Catholic, likely had his best chance to challenge for a Stanley Cup title this season.
 
The Flames were the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Yet the season ended when they lost in five games to the No. 8 seeded Colorado Avalanche in the opening round of the NHL playoffs.
 
Granted, the NHL is one sport where there is so much parity, that a No. 1 seed losing to a No. 8 seed isn’t always considered a monumental upset.
 
In this case, it was still shocking, especially since Calgary won the first game.
 
After that first game, the Flames lost four straight, scoring a total of just seven goals.
 
In the five games, Gaudreau, who turns 26 in August, went scoreless and had one assist, which came in Game 2. His plus-minus total for the series was a minus-2.
 
The clincher was a 5-1 loss in Game 5 that sent the Flames packing for the summer.
 
What is a little surprising is that this was Gaudreau’s best regular season in his five-year career in which he has been an NHL all-star each season.
 
Standing just 5-foot-9 and weighing 165-pounds, Gaudreau has been one of the NHL giants since he entered the league.
 
This season he set career highs in goals (36) and assists (63) in scoring 99 points. It was the second time in his career that he scored 30 goals. Gaudreau had exactly 30 during his second full season in 2015-2016.
 
He is a lightning quick skater who is stronger than he looks. While he is a weapon on the power play, Gaudreau is also extremely dangerous at even strength. This season he scored 30 of his 36 goals at even strength.
 
Gaudreau has exceeded any expectations when he came into the NHL after being a fourth round draft choice in the 2011 entry draft out of Boston College. Nicknamed “Johnny Hockey” he was the Hoby Baker Award winner in 2014 as the best player in college hockey.
 
That same year in 2014 he played one late-season game with the Flames, scoring a goal in his NHL debut. There was conjecture whether he would make the team out of training camp, but Gaudreau not only earned a spot but began his all-star streak, with 24 goals and 40 assists in 80 games.
 
Gaudreau has proved to be durable as he has played in 79 or more games in four of his five seasons. The least number he has played was 72 in 2016-2017.
 
While the first-round playoff loss will likely sting for a while, Gaudreau has proven to be one of the NHL’s bright young stars, who is likely only beginning to enter his prime.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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