The dynamic left winger returned from injury early and helped the Calgary Flames dissect the Anaheim Ducks. Is everything looking up in Alberta now?
'Johnny Hockey' is back with a vengeance, people.
The Calgary Flames pasted Anaheim 8-3 last night and Johnny Gaudreau was the first star, thanks to a goal and two points. But the designation wasn't just about merit; this was also a celebration of Gaudreau's first game back since a slash in mid-November caused the incredibly skilled left winger to miss 10 contests with a broken finger.
The Flames, who got off to a rough start this season, had already managed to get back on track without Gaudreau and are now 6-3-1 in their past 10 games. But make no mistake, getting Gaudreau back in such short order is great for a team that is on the outside of the playoff picture and looking in.
Calgary had been in the news for all the wrong reasons, but now the narrative is turning around. Why dwell on Brian Elliott's struggles in the crease when you've got red-hot Chad Johnson? And worry about those Dougie Hamilton trade rumors later, because right now the big defenseman is producing and also playing the best possession hockey of any defenseman on the squad.
Gaudreau's finger injury was a bummer, but he certainly seemed no worse for wear last night, albeit against an atrocious Jonathan Bernier in net (Ducks coach Randy Carlyle didn't want to pull him for an ill John Gibson). Take a look at Johnny Hockey in action:
Again, not Bernier's finest hour, but a nice sight for Flames fans, that's for sure. Gaudreau's stickwork the rest of the night was definitely up to code and with him back in the lineup, Calgary has some very nice depth up front once again. The Flames boast weapons on their top three lines and a balanced attack will be important, since opponents will certainly focus on Gaudreau's line as much as possible – and with good reason.