ANAHEIM — As fertile as Johnny Gaudreau’s mind is, even he insists he never fathomed he could create enough magic to hit the century mark.
“Never, really,” said the Flames winger, who got his 98th point in Wednesday’s otherwise meaningless 3-1 loss at Honda Center.
“Kind of just played my game, just played hockey. I love playing the game, I love winning games with my teammates. And it kind of just creeped up on me. So we’ll see. One more game. We’ll see if I play or not on Saturday. I want to play. I want to play in front of our fans against Edmonton. That would be a lot of fun on Saturday night. But we’ll see.”
In the midst of season of unfathomable success in Calgary, Gaudreau’s career year has been one of the big reasons his Flames wrapped up the Western Conference on the weekend.
With GM Brad Treliving finally finding that perfect winger — Elias Lindholm — to complete the dangerous duo Gaudreau and Sean Monahan had long ago formed, the Flames’ top line was undoubtedly one of the league’s best.
And now he sits two away from a mark no one in Flames silks has hit since a man almost as small as him, Theo Fleury, did it in 1992-93.
Gaudreau was born a few months later.
“Obviously that would be a really cool milestone but with what our team accomplished this year just through the regular season, it’s been awesome,” said Gaudreau, who has a career-high 36 goals and 62 helpers to sit sixth in NHL scoring.
“It’s so much fun to be a part of. Looking forward to playoffs.”
points for Gaudreau. pic.twitter.com/QIZa5dAmxP
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 4, 2019
After giving several of his stars the night off in Los Angeles and Anaheim this week, coach Bill Peters suggested all week he’d ice his playoff roster Saturday when the Oilers come into town.
After Wednesday’s game he suggested he was having second thoughts, and would discuss with his assistants.
But you can bet Gaudreau won’t be coming out of the lineup, giving him a shot at the historic mark even Jarome Iginla never hit.
“It would be cool, obviously, (but) it’s something that I try not to focus on too, too much,” said Gaudreau, the only skater to have a shot at playing all 82 games this season.
“But I realize how close I am. That’s not the reason why I’m playing though right now. I feel good. You guys have known me long enough — I like to be on the ice. I want to be out there, I want to be playing the game rather than sitting in the press box watching my teammates play. I feel rested. I feel ready to go.”
Peters said he wasn’t even sure how close Gaudreau was to the milestone after his first-period assist on Derek Ryan’s goal inched Gaudreau closer.
“I think it’s a nice round number,” said Peters. “I think everyone wants those numbers. If you’re at 19 goals you want 20 and if you have 48 points you want 50.
“I don’t think it’s a high priority, but if it happens, it happens. Whether he gets 100 or 98, he’s had a hell of a year.”
Ryan said the same thing, amazed at how prolific Gaudreau has been all season — his most consistent campaign by far.
“I think that’s huge for a guy like himself,” said Ryan, who played on Gaudreau’s line for a handful of games this season.
“He obviously creates a lot offensively, so it’s exciting to see him reach, potentially, that milestone. Even if he doesn’t reach it, it doesn’t take away from how great of a season he had. It’s just a number. It’s been a lot of fun watching him.
“He’s dynamic, he’s fun to watch and he makes crazy plays no one else thinks of. He’s a huge part of our offence and hopefully he gets rewarded.”