CALGARY, AB -- It hasn’t been a memorable season collectively for the Calgary Flames but as individuals there have been a number of impressive milestones realized.
A few are proving naysayers wrong.
From Johnny Gaudreau dispelling any talk of a sophomore jinx with his team-leading 30 goals and 77 points in as many games to linemate Sean Monahan enjoying a career-high 63 points.
Joe Colborne reached the 40-point plateau for the first time in his young career by dishing out a helper on Mikael Backlund’s game opening marker in last night’s overtime setback to the Los Angeles Kings, while in the same game captain Mark Giordano netted his 21st marker for the highest total of any Flames defenceman since Al MacInnis potted 28 in 1993-94.
“Let’s remember, Mark Giordano proved everybody wrong,” said Flames head coach Bob Hartley, following Wednesday’s practice. “And I’m not surprised one bit. You look at him in practice and you look at how he’s committed. I look at Gio as the total package. I look at all my players as a total package because that’s what you need in order to be successful.
“We’re fortunate the person that carries the flag for the Calgary Flames is an unbelievable worker. He’s an unbelievable person and he cares. It’s a great reflection and a great example for our young players.”
Gaudreau, who produced his 20th multi-point game of this season, says he would trade each and every one of those for a playoff berth.
“It doesn’t matter when you don’t have team success,” said the Flames phenom. “Every guy in this locker room that is having a career year would much rather replace it to be in the playoffs and be playing for the Stanley Cup.”
That’s not to say the dynamic 22-year-old isn’t already amped up for next season.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “Hopefully we can bring it together as a team and get off to a better start - have career years but also have a career year as a team.”
“Some guys have had great years, but at the end of the day it’s still not where we want to be,” echoed Monahan. “When you’re going home in April and not playing playoff hockey it’s not fun. But we have guys in this room that want to win so that makes us optimistic for next year.”
Forward Lance Bouma departed the game in the third period of Tuesday’s home game versus Los Angeles due to an upper body injury.
“He’s done for the week or for the rest of the season, however you want to say it,” Hartley said.
Bouma, 26, finishes his third full season with the Flames with seven points and 31 penalty minutes in 44 games.
WORKING WITHIN THE SYSTEM
With the Edmonton Oilers having the best opportunity to land the top pick at June’s NHL Draft for the fifth time in seven years there are hockey executives and players not too pleased with the process.
There is also chatter about changing the salary cap system and allowing teams to spend more than others when it comes to overall player salaries.
The Flames bench boss, however, is fine with the regulations in place.
“Personally, I love the system,” Hartley said. “There are rules, and there are people in charge of making those rules and regulations, and those people make decisions for the best of the game.
“We can’t criticize. The easiest thing in life is to criticize and doubt this won’t work and that won’t work. I’m a hockey coach and I feel privileged to work in the National Hockey League and I respect the decisions made by those paid to make them. Sometimes I’m for and sometimes I’m against, but when decisions have to be made you have to respect them. I fully respect what they decide on the draft lottery or goalie equipment or rule changes.”
BACK TO ORTIO
Joni Ortio will receive the starting nod for a fourth straight game in tomorrow night’s home finale against the Vancouver Canucks, while recently-acquired Niklas Backstrom will take on his former Minnesota Wild in Saturday’s curtain closer.