Andersson hits 50 points with blueline partner hot on his heels
Every member of the Calgary Flames defence corps is having a career year. But it’s Rasmus Andersson who hit the 50-point mark first.
His blueline partner Noah Hanifin is just a couple behind, with two games remaining in the regular-season. The Flames could boast a pair of 50-point rearguards for the first time since the 1992-93 season. Gary Suter (81) and Al MacInnis (54) both cracked the benchmark.
For the 25-year-old Andersson, the rise to elite defender status might seem sudden.
It’s definitely not a topic he’s too interested in talking about, although reporters in Minnesota asked his thoughts on Wednesday.
“It’s something I’m proud of. But as I’ve said before, when the team’s winning, when the team’s going good, a lot of guys are going to have career years,” said Andersson. “And I’m one of a few.”
He’s one of many, in fact. On the blueline alone, all six regular defenders have matched or surpassed their personal best point totals.
For Hanifin and Andersson, though, the surge has been a little more pronounced. And it has come in spite of the fact they often face the other team’s best offensive weapons.
The duo has answered the mid-season call from Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter asking for more offence from the defence.
Hanifin has a six-game point streak, with two goals and seven points in that span. He has three goals and 14 points in his last 10 outings – including his first ever four-assist game on April 9.
Oh, and Hanifin is also just 25 years old.
Only 17 NHL defencemen have hit 50 this season. Andersson is one of just six who are 25 or under.
Of that top group, only three have better plus/minus numbers than Andersson’s plus-31.
The stat isn’t a perfect measurement of effectiveness. But when it’s used as a general comparison to those top-tier peers, it gives you a pretty good sense of who is pushing play into the offensive zone as opposed to the ones spending more time in their own end chasing the puck around.
Each of them was instrumental in the comeback win over the Predators in Nashville on Tuesday. Not only was Andersson a plus-3 on the night (on the ice for four of the Flames goals and none against) but he also earned the assist on the overtime winner from Elias Lindholm.
Hanifin scored his 10th goal of the season, matching his career high from his last year with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2017-18. He also had a helper on Matthew Tkachuk’s miraculous less-than-last-second tying goal in regulation.
If the two teams do end up as first-round opponents, you can bet that dynamic duo will be a big factor in any success by the Calgary Flames.