It’s easy to forget that there’s a huge difference between the level of play preseason and regular season, especially when your team seems a little low on the sort of magic that Calgary Flames prospect Johnny Gaudreau brought to exhibition games.
Through three games “that actually count,” the 21-year-old has failed to score a goal or an assist. Maybe even more disconcertingly, Gaudreau has only generated a single shot on goal despite averaging nearly two minutes of power-play time per contest.
Luckily, the Flames aren’t freaking out about the under-sized forward’s growing pains, as the Calgary Sun reports.
“We have to manage expectations — that’s the biggest thing,” Head coach Bob Hartley said. “Here’s a young man taking his first steps in the NHL and he’ll need time.
” … Johnny, I think, he has a very good future in pro hockey, and right now he’s just learning the game with the puck and without the puck. I think it’s just normal what he’s going through.”
Members of the Nashville Predators – the Flames’ opponent on Tuesday – didn’t seem to concerned about Gaudreau’s struggles, either. Head coach Peter Laviolette saw Gaudreau’s work firsthand as Gaudreau represented the U.S. in the World Hockey Championships, and his review was glowing, praising his two-way game.
(Possession stats look downright batty with such small sample sizes, but at least his numbers look pretty good in that regard.)
There’s plenty of time for Gaudreau to get his game together, whether he spends the rest of the season with Calgary or gets some more seasoning in the AHL. With the Flames in a rebuilding mode, it’s not that shocking to see such a patient approach, yet it’s still a positive sign for the dazzling forward’s future.