What about his centreman, Sean Monahan?
You know, the 23-year-old who has played four NHL seasons, all of them with 20 goals or more, including a 31-goal campaign. Is the Brampton, Ont. product having the best season in the league that no one is talking about? Maybe not no one, but here are a few things you might not realize.
Only two players in the league, Alex Ovechkin and Nikita Kucherov, have more goals than Monahan’s 17. No one has more game-winning goals than the six the Flames centre has accounted for, leaving him tied for the league lead entering Tuesday’s game against Minnesota.
Getting off to a start like this is something new for the 2013 sixth-overall pick. Outside of his rookie season in 2013-14, when he turned on the red light six times in his first eight games, Monahan has normally saved his best around the net for later.
Even in that year, after 30 games the centreman had found the net just 10 times. In fact, 11 was the most goals he had ever scored at the 30-game mark, until this season. Last season at this point Monahan had found the back of the cage just eight times. His current 30 points have him 14 ahead of last season’s totals.
Another interesting comparison between this season and last: 11 of his goals have come away from the Scotiabank Saddledome. Monahan scored all of nine goals on the road last season and is just two points shy of his 18 total road points from 2016-17. His faceoff percentage is up nearly six per cent from his rookie season. For the analytics types, his Corsi rating is 55.
The Flames’ number-one pivot is checking all the boxes. He just goes about his business quietly and effectively.
His ability to elevate the puck in tight spaces is one of his greatest assets. His wrist shot is lethal. When the game is on the line, who would you rather have with it in a position to score?
Monahan, who has two overtime goals already this season, has a franchise record of nine. Even in a difficult four-game playoff sweep at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks last post-season, who scored in all four games? Monahan.
Monahan doesn’t require the spotlight. Doesn’t want it. Doesn’t need it.
From where I watch, all this young man wants is to get better at his craft each and every day. As he wouldn’t be comfortable trumpeting the type of start he is off to, I thought I would.