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Flames-Ducks game preview: Spotlight on Gaudreau

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Johnny Gaudreau’s performance of late has dominated Calgary Flames talk heading into tonight’s game against the host Anaheim Ducks (8 p.m., 📺: Sportsnet, 👂: Sportsnet 960).

Gaudreau’s scoring prowess has hogged headlines most of the season for good reasons, 113 of them. That’s how many points the star Flames forward is on pace to score over the 82-game regular-season schedule, which would put him second all-time in franchise history behind Kent Nilsson’s 131-point performance in 1980-81 and just ahead of Joe Mullen’s 110 in 1988-89.

That shows a lot of Hart, if you ask me.

Gaudreau hitting the century mark would be the first time in almost 30 years a Flame has hit triple-digit points. Theo Fleury reached 100 in 1992-93.

Gaudreau is sitting at 95 points (34G 61A) in 69 games played. Including tonight’s matchup, there are 13 games left for him to add to his total.

Projected lineups

Flames

Forward

Gaudreau • Lindholm • Tkachuk
Mangiapane • Backlund • Toffoli
Dube • Ruzicka • Coleman
Lucic • Carpenter • Lewis

Defence

Hanifin • Andresson
Stone • Tanev
Zadorov • Gudbranson

Goal

Markstrom • Vladar

Ducks

Forward

Milano • Zegras • Carrick
Comtois • Henrique • Mayhew
Grant • Lundestrom • Aston-Reese
Simon • Steel • Lettieri

Defence

Fowler • Drysdale
Vaakanainen • Shattenkirk
Mahura • Sustr

Goal

Gibson • Stolarz

First-time 50 anniversary

Speaking of Flames who’ve scored a bunch of points, it was 43 years ago today when Guy Chouinard tallied his 50th goal of the 1978-79 season for Atlanta in a 9-2 win over the New York Rangers at home in The Omni.

Chouinard was the first Flame to reach the revered 50-goal total.

That spanking and a 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders two days later to conclude the regular season woke the Rangers up as they made a run all the way to the Stanley Cup final that year only to lose to dynastic Montreal.

The Atlanta Flames finished fourth in the hotly contested four-team Patrick Division, one point behind the Rangers. The Patrick also featured the Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers. Each of the Rangers, Islanders and Flyers would be Cup finalists in a two-season span starting that year: the Rangers in ’79, of course, while the Isles won their first title by beating the Flyers in 1980.

In 1978-79, the season before four WHA teams were added to the league slate, 12 of the 17 teams made the playoffs, with the four division winners getting a bye to the second-round quarter-finals.

The preliminary round was seeded with the remaining teams, and Atlanta — who finished sixth overall and who was seeded third for the three-game prelim — faced the Toronto Maple Leafs, who prevailed in two games over the Flames.

Ducks licking wounds

Anaheim comes into tonight’s game against Calgary having been thoroughly dominated by the visiting Edmonton Oilers on Monday, losing 6-1.

The hosts will no doubt want to avoid a second such score even though it’s the division leaders they’ll face tonight.

The Ducks are well back in the NHL playoff hunt, sitting 15 points behind the Dallas Stars, who hold down the final wild-card spot heading into tonight’s action. But there’s always pride.

Getzlaf retiring at season’s end

Ryan Getzlaf has called it a career.

The veteran Ducks captain, who started his NHL career in 2005 with Anaheim after a junior run starring for the Calgary Hitmen, announced yesterday he will retire at the end of the season.

The 36-year-old Regina native will end up well north of 1,100 games played, scoring at a nearly point-per-game pace with 1,013 so far in his 17-year career.

Getzlaf won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007, captured Olympic gold twice for Canada in 2010 and 2014, and claimed a world junior title in 2005.

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