Sean Monahan

Monahan decision looms as Flames start road trip


Only two games in the NHL tonight. We already mentioned the Rangers-Capitals affair. Later in Anaheim, the Ducks host the surprising Calgary Flames in a Pacific Division tilt.

The undefeated-in-regulation Flames (3-0-2) entered the season as the consensus pick to finish dead last in the NHL. But so far it’s not turning out that way. In Anaheim, they kick off a tough five-game road trip, which also has stops in San Jose, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Dallas.

Rookie forward Sean Monahan will be one to watch for at least the first four games of the trip, as the Flames need to make a decision on whether to keep him or send him back to junior. The 19-year-old can play nine games before the first year of his entry-level contract kicks in.

It’ll be a tough decision either way. Monahan, the sixth overall pick in the 2013 draft, has six points in five games, including the winning goal versus the Devils on Friday. Management reportedly wants to see how he does on this trip before it makes a decision on his immediate future.

“This is a great test for (Monahan),” said Flames coach Bob Hartley, per the Calgary Herald. “For our entire team, actually. We’re going into places where it’s not easy to play against teams that are physically imposing. Here’s a quiet kid — I can’t say that he’s shy because he’s very respectful — but in every situation that we’re putting him in, he’s responding with very good efforts and very good results.

“You’re right. We have to make a decision soon. So just by the force of the situation we need to put him there, against guys like you were just mentioning.

“So far Sean Monahan has passed all the tests. Now we’re into the final exams.”

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?