Calgary Flames

Breaking down Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk’s five-on-five scoring dominance

It’s public knowledge at this point that the Calgary Flames have one of, if not the best first line in the NHL for the 2021–22 season. Playing virtually the entire season together, the line of Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm, and Matthew Tkachuk have completely dominated as a trio. It wasn’t until recently that Darryl Sutter broke the line up to promote Tyler Toffoli to the first line, while having Tkachuk play with Mikael Backlund and Dillon Dube.

Having previously broken down the elite two-way play of Lindholm (with video analysis!), we’ll turn our attention to the wingers instead. Gaudreau and Tkachuk have put up points at breakneck speed, and are doing so primarily at 5v5. Of course, getting good results at 5v5 is a big indicator of success, but these two players aren’t just getting good results—they are leading the NHL.

Johnny Gaudreau’s 5v5 points

If you look at 5v5 points scored, you’ll see that Gaudreau is currently first in the whole league with 52 5v5 points in 63 games played. Auston Matthews follows with 50 points in 58 games played. While Matthews is clearly a better goal scorer, what makes Gaudreau’s total so astounding is seen when breaking the numbers down by primary versus secondary points.

GoalsFirst AssistsSecond AssistsPrimary PointsTotal Points
Johnny Gaudreau182954752
League RankT-10th1stT-214th1st1st

Gaudreau is putting up primary points at an insane rate (currently, Matthews is trailing Gaudreau by five primary points). What really stands out is that Gaudreau’s secondary assists total is surprisingly low—you’d think someone putting up as many 5v5 points has Gaudreau is would get a big boost from secondary assists, but this is not the case for him at all.

As evidenced by Gaudreau’s secondary assist ranking, most players with fewer total 5v5 points than him likely have more secondary assists than him. In fact, among 5v5 scoring leaders, the next player with five secondary assists or fewer is Ryan Hartman, currently ranked 29th overall in 5v5 points (20 G, 12 A1, 4 A2). Every other player in between has more secondary assists than the two of them.

The fact of the matter is Gaudreau is converting on his own chances, and is directly responsible for creating chances that end up as goals for his teammates on the ice with him. Briefly looking at primary assists, both Tkachuk and Lindholm have had nine of their goals assisted by Gaudreau (via

Matthew Tkachuk’s 5v5 points

While Gaudreau and Matthews take the one and two spots in the 5v5 scoring race, Tkachuk is right there in third place. While Tkachuk is matching Gaudreau in goal outputs (10 other players also have 18 5v5 goals), Tkachuk is actually second in the league for first assists with 21, eight behind Gaudreau. Matthews’ 30 5v5 goals is the reason he’s ahead of Tkachuk in overall 5v5 points.

GoalsFirst AssistsSecond AssistsPrimary PointsTotal Points
Matthew Tkachuk182193948
League RankT-10th2ndT-38th3rd3rd

Tkachuk’s statline is nothing short of incredible as well. While not quite matching Gaudreau’s totals, the two share the same trend: Score goals at a rate that’s among the best in the league and be league leaders in the first assist category.

For context, their centreman Lindholm is ranked 30th overall in total 5v5 points with 35 (18 G, 7 A1, 10 A2).

On-ice impacts

Using charts from, we can look at what Calgary’s 5v5 offence looks like when Gaudreau and Tkachuk are on the ice. Of course, having played over 800 minutes of 5v5 hockey together this year while being apart for just about 100 minutes each, their impact on the Flames’ 5v5 offence will look very similar—the two visuals look like near repeats of each other as they should. This is especially true considering neither of them play the penalty kill—something that keeps Lindholm from exactly matching his linemates.

That said, why not look at both visuals and be awestruck by the level of dominance Gaudreau and Tkachuk have imparted against their opponents this season.

Calgary gets a huge boost in expected goals when the duo are on the ice. The more red in these charts, the better, and there is nothing but deep reds seen here.

Again for context, here’s Lindholm’s, which is expectedly also spectacular:

Calgary’s dynamic duo

For Gaudreau and Tkachuk to be putting up the most 5v5 as a duo this season—and doing so by mainly accumulating goals and first assists—is truly remarkable. It’d be one thing if they were piling on secondary assists to inflate their totals to the top, but the reality is secondary assists hardly factor into either of their scoring totals.

Whether Gaudreau can ultimately lock in the most 5v5 points in the league will be soon answered by season’s end. At this rate, it looks like Gaudreau might very well pull it off with his current pace. He’s on track to put up a whopping 61 primary 5v5 points this season, while Tkachuk trails with a pace of 51 (as if that’s somehow bad, but only in comparison to Gaudreau’s).

No matter how you spin it, the Flames have put together an incredible season thus far, and their first line has done it all. Driving the play at 5v5 is one thing, actually scoring at 5v5 is another, and even moreso, leading the league at 5v5 scoring, well, that’s just the cherry on top.

Photo from The Canadian Press/Larry MacDougal

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