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LINEUP NOTES - 06.12.19

Gaudreau gets "weight off my shoulders" with goal Thursday, sparked by new line combinations

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

Don't be fooled by the mellow demeanour.

There's a fire that burns deep in Johnny Gaudreau's belly, and for a while, that flame had quickly grown to an all-out inferno.

That is, until Thursday, when the talented winger took on a different approach.

"Unfortunately, in this game, it's not always going to go your way all the time," interim head coach Geoff Ward said. "The simplest thing, when things aren't going your way, is to give yourself to the team.

"I think that's what Johnny did last night.

"He decided he was going to come in, have fun, have a smile on his face and do as much as he possibly (could) to help the team win without putting any pressure on himself to do the things that he normally does."

Gaudreau entered the night without a goal in 10 outings.

But with points in three of his last four, it was clear his game was trending in the right direction.

So, as he walked off the near circle and tattooed a shot over the Linus Ullmark's left shoulder late in the opening period last night, he showed how a quick flick of the wrist can help open the floodgates.

"It's nice to get the weight off my shoulders," Gaudreau said. "I was getting good looks, making nice plays. Off the breakout, I felt really good finding guys through the seams. I played a lot in the offensive zone. Overall, it was a nice game.

"Definitely something to build off and help get the confidence up."

 

Video: "We want to reinforce all the good things we did"

 


Gaudreau, who started the night on a line with Derek Ryan and Milan Lucic, had a spark from the get-go.

Later, Gaudreau re-joined his longtime pal, Sean Monahan (who scored earlier off a nice feed from Mikael Backlund), to give the Flames a bit extra in the game's late stages.

It's nice to have options, and the Flames - winners of three straight - have plenty of them right now.

Expect to see Gaudreau back with Ryan and Lucic at puck drop tomorrow when the Flames close out a three-game homestand against Drew Doughty and the LA Kings.

 

Here are the forward line combinations and D pairs used during Friday's practice:
 
FORWARDS
 
Matthew Tkachuk - Elias Lindholm - Andrew Mangiapane
Sean Monahan - Mikael Backlund - Dillon Dube
Milan Lucic - Derek Ryan - Johnny Gaudreau
Tobias Rieder - Mark Jankowski - Michael Frolik
 

DEFENCE
 
Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie
Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic
Oliver Kylington - Rasmus Andersson

GOALTENDERS
 
David Rittich
Cam Talbot

 

"Was there frustration? I think so," Ward said of the Gaudreau. "I think it's natural for guys to be frustrated when you go through a stretch where it's not going your way. Looch talked about a couple days ago and said, 'You know, I'm tired of breaking sticks - eventually it's going to come.' You get to a point where you just focus on what you are as a player, what your strengths are, how you get to showcase those strengths. And when you get back to that, it's funny how the game comes back to you."

Gaudreau had five shots and was a +1 in only 13:09 of ice time.

He also had a hand in eight, even-strength scoring chances, and was equally sound on the defensive side of the puck.

Ward, who improved to 3-0 behind the bench with Thursday's victory, credits that to the forward putting an emphasis on playing loose and letting the game come to him.

"I think it carried over into his play," he said. "He was playing way freer than he has in a long time, like there was a weight lifted off his shoulders. He was making things happen, making plays, getting onto pucks, hanging onto them.

"He was doing the things that come naturally to him as a player.

"We saw that he was trending that way."

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