The Seven: Flames need Monahan more than ever

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 03: Sean Monahan #23 of the Calgary Flames skates against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on November 3, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)
Sean Monahan of the Calgary Flames skates against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on November 3, 2016. (Getty)

The Calgary Flames won their first game without Johnny Gaudreau – their star left winger who underwent surgery to repair a fractured finger – thanks to a 2-1 overtime decision Wednesday against Arizona.

The win came without any offensive contribution from Gaudreau’s main running mate. Despite four shots on net, Sean Monahan failed to figure in the scoring, something that has been commonplace and something that must change quickly for the underachieving Flames (7-11-1).

Monahan posted more than 60 points in each of the past two seasons, but has struggled mightily with just five goals and eight points through 19 games. He’s also minus-8.

Counting stats are one thing. Advanced stats are another. And some of the data hasn’t been favourable for the 22-year-old.

While Monahan’s Corsi For percentage was a respectable 51.26 entering the weekend’s NHL action, it doesn’t resemble that of a star player. But what’s most concerning for the centreman is his Corsi For percentage relative to that of his teammates, just 0.21. And last year, when the Flames missed the playoffs, Monahan’s Corsi relative – a player’s on-ice Corsi minus off-Ice Corsi – was 1.8. Those are signs he’s not standing out enough.

Monahan is going to have to find a way to make more of an impact. He’s not the only one, of course. Top-pairing defenceman T. J. Brodie, for one, has just three assists and is minus-11.

But Monahan is the Flames’ best offensive player now that ‘Johnny Hockey’ is sidelined. If he doesn’t perform that way, it’ll be curtains for their season.

Now it’s time for the latest edition of The Seven – a weekly look at the Canadian-based NHL teams.


Trending: The hot seat is getting hotter for coach Willie Desjardins, especially after a 7-2 loss to the Rangers.

Making his mark: Markus Granlund and Ben Hutton had overtime goals this week.

Dubious distinction: Jake Virtanen was recalled briefly, didn’t play, and was sent down to the AHL again. At least he got some fresh clothes out of the deal.

What’s ahead: The Canucks host the Blackhawks on Saturday before a road game in Arizona next Wednesday.


Trending: Gaudreau’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. After a sluggish start, he was just beginning to heat up.

Making his mark: Michael Frolik’s overtime marker gave the Flames their second multi-game winning streak of the season.

Dubious distinction: Gaudreau scored the winning goal against Minnesota before leaving due to injury.

What’s ahead: The Flames head out on a six-game road trip that begins in Detroit, Buffalo and Columbus.


Trending: A 4-2 loss in Los Angeles on Thursday was the Oilers’ fifth straight and 10th consecutive in Tinseltown.

Making his mark: Connor McDavid, Patrick Maroon and Cam Talbot are on a short list of those who’ve played well during this swoon.

Dubious distinction: Although … McDavid has just seven points in his past 10 games. None of them are goals.

What’s ahead: Dallas, Chicago and Colorado are next as the Oilers try to change their fortunes.


Trending: It was a quiet three games for Mark Scheifele with two assists. Still, he’s tied atop the NHL’s scoring list a month into the season. Many saw him making a significant impact this season. But not like this.

Making his mark: Rookie defenceman Josh Morrissey has fit in alongside Dustin Byfuglien. Now he has his first goal, too. It came in a 4-0 win over Chicago on Thursday.

Dubious distinction: The Jets’ first regulation loss in six games wasn’t pretty as they fell 5-2 in Philadelphia on Thursday.

What’s ahead: Their five-game road trip continues in Boston, Carolina and Minnesota. At least the plane is getting a good workout.


Trending: Auston Matthews, where art thou? His goalless drought has hit 10 games. Not that there’s any reason to worry.

Making his mark: Meanwhile, Mitch Marner has taken over the mantle of Leafs super-rookie, as per Mike Babcock’s effusive praise.

Dubious distinction: James Reimer was a fan favourite in Toronto. The Leafs, scoring six times on 30 shots Thursday, did not welcome him back nicely.

What’s ahead: Road games in Montreal and New Jersey are sandwiched between Carolina coming to Toronto on Tuesday.


Trending: The Sens collected points in four straight – including three wins – while scoring just six goals. That’s not easy to do.

Making his mark: Mark Stone scored with 6.5 seconds left to give the Sens a 2-1 win against the Kings last Friday.

Dubious distinction: The above streak ended with a decisive 5-1 home loss to Nashville on Thursday. Predators winger James Neal tied a club record with a goal in his sixth consecutive game.

What’s ahead: Division rivals Florida, Montreal and Boston are pivotal matchups. The Sens (10-6-1) are third in the Atlantic, one point ahead of the Bruins.


Trending: The Canadiens beat Detroit 5-0 last Saturday, equalling an NHL record with their 13th win in their first 15 games.

Making his mark: This shot by Shea Weber. Jimmy Howard should feel lucky the puck didn’t hit him.

Dubious distinction: The Canadiens lost for the first time at home when the Panthers beat them on Tuesday. The overtime winner by Aaron Ekblad probably still hasn’t hit the back of the net.

What’s ahead: The Canadiens host the Senators, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes this week.