Edmonton Journal

Scoreless in seven? Not to worry says Flames’ Sean Monahan

- KRISTEN ODLAND

CALGARY — Very rarely does Sean Monahan become rattled or flustered.

So in case you’re wondering, the current scoring slump — going on seven games without a goal — hasn’t made a difference to the Calgary Flames’ No. 1 centreman.

As a rookie in 2013-14, he finished with 22 goals and 12 assists and his offence was a nice surprise in year one of the team’s rebuild. This season, with a bulked up frame and a full 82-game campaign under his belt, Monahan already has 11 goals and 11 assists for 22 points in 37 games, which is sixth in team scoring.

But his current skid is the longest such stretch he’s gone through since an eight-game drought to start the season, which he deserves a bit of a break on — the 20-year-old was extremely ill when the 2014-15 campaign began.

Again, not a reason to be worried — because he’s not.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Monahan said following Sunday’s skate at the Scotiabank Saddledome. “It’s been a few games. But I’m getting the chances and trying to do the little things to help the team win.”

Like, for example, early in the third period of Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

After Ryan Nugent-Hopkins cashed in on a goal that went off a skate in front of Jonas Hiller, Jeff Petry went off for slashing. Monahan’s best chances of the night came on that power play.

“You just have to stick with it and you’re going to find a way to put the puck in the net,”said Calgary’s sixth overall pick from 2013 rattled off the entire sequence.

Which is exactly what the boss believes. Monahan’s ice time — averaging the fifth- highest on the team (19:29) — is still useful, even without his usual scoring touch, which is a sign head coach Bob Hartley isn’t concerned either.

He’s the most utilized Flames forward, playing power play and winning important faceoffs against the NHL’s best players. And there’s a reason why the coaches trust him to play in crucial situations.

“Monnie is playing lots of minutes,” Hartley said. “If you see his ice time go down, that’s when you ask your question again. I think Monnie is playing great. (Saturday) night, he hit the post. There’s not much you can do about this. I think he’s skating well. He’s getting the job done.”

Monahan is sitting 47th in faceoff percentage, tied with Tomas Plekanec by winning 50.2 per cent of his draws. Against the Oilers, though, he padded his statistics and won 16 of 22 draws.

And for the second time in a week, he’ll be up against the specialist­s on the Los Angeles Kings, which include Jeff Carter (55.8 per cent, 13th in the league), Jarret Stoll (51.2 per cent) and Anze Kopitar (51.1).

When the Flames beat the Kings 4-3 in overtime on Dec. 22, Monahan was most effective against Kopitar (winning five of seven) and struggled against Stoll (winning only two of seven) and Mike Richards (winning only five of 12).

 ??  ?? Sean Monahan
Sean Monahan

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