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Gaudreau getting more comfortable at pro level

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

NASHVILLE, TN -- Three games without a point may feel like an eternity for Johnny Gaudreau.

The winger has always been offensively gifted, racking up points with ease.

With the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers U16 team, he put up 45 points in 30 games in 2008-09. He followed that up with 58 points in 48 games with the Team Comcast 18U club.

During his one year stint in the USHL back in 2010-11, he managed 36 goals and 72 points in 60 games with Dubuque Fighting Saints.

The 21-year-old was an offensive powerhouse throughout his collegiate career, never dipping below a point-per-game average through three seasons. He capped off his time at Boston College with a 2.00 points-per-game average, tallying 80 in 40 games.

But three games into the 2014-15 campaign, the Carneys Point, NJ native has yet to see his name on the scoresheet.

While that may be frustrating for him, it is perfectly normal for any rookie to go through this kind of process, according to head coach Bob Hartley.

"I think that we have to manage expectations," Hartley stated. "That's the biggest thing. Here's a young man making his first step in the NHL. He'll need time. We're in [his] corner ... You can't buy experience or you can't wake up one day suddenly and say, 'You have experience.' You have to put them in those situations. That's what [we're doing] with Johnny.

"Johnny has a very good future in pro hockey but right now, he's just learning the game. The game with the puck, the game without the puck. I think it's normal, what he's going through."

For his part, Gaudreau isn't overly bothered by the numbers. Yes, he would like to produce offensively. That is his calling card.

But he understands that he needs to grow his game and work on aspects of his play that could hinder him at the pro level.

"I think I’m just trying to get my feet wet here, the first few games," he said. "Try to get comfortable.

"One of the things the coaches said [was] I needed make sure I was better defensively. I’ve been trying to get better at that. I’ve been working on it at practice as much as I can."

In addition to acclimatizing to the speed of the game and strength of the opposition, Gaudreau is learning to cope with the hectic pace of the NHL schedule.

In September, he participated in the 2014 Young Stars Classic, playing in three games in four days.

The Flames played nine exhibition games, five of which were played outside of Calgary, and after starting the regular season at home, they embarked on a six-game road trip.

That is a much different pace than that of a collegiate schedule.

"It’s a little difficult for me, with this road trip. I thought I did pretty well in the first game at home. I’ve got to get adjusted to so long on the road.

"When I was in college I played a game 45 minutes away and came back and slept in my own bed. It’s an adjustment I’ve got to make."

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