Sean Monahan

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Gaudreau, Monahan, Flames too much for Capitals

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When you talk about the best lines in the NHL, don’t sleep on the trio Johnny Gaudreau is leading for the Calgary Flames.

With his 10th goal of the season coming early in a Flames – Washington Capitals game that is ongoing, Gaudreau collected his 30th point of 2017-18. As of this writing, only two other players have hit that mark so far: Steven Stamkos (35 points) and Nikita Kucherov (33), the headliners of a Tampa Bay Lightning trio that’s grabbing a lot of, well, headlines.

Here’s the goal Gaudreau scored against the Caps, keeping in mind that he has plenty of time to add to his lofty totals:

To an extent, it feels like Gaudreau’s fantastic work has been sneaking under the radar, at least compared to the likes of Stamkos – Kucherov. Then again, maybe some of it has to do with the fact that his hot streak is at least somewhat concentrated in the last few weeks?

Gaudreau, no doubt, is the catalyst. His playmaking ability is often spellbinding, and he’s well beyond questions about being a flash in the pan at this point in his career. The 24-year-old came into tonight’s game with 233 points in 251 career regular-season games; he’s scored more than the likes of Joe Pavelski and Evgeni Malkin since becoming a full-time player in 2014-15, according to Hockey Reference. (He ranks 12th overall during that span.)

His linemates deserve some of the spotlight, too.

There remains a debate about how much Sean Monahan can accomplish without Gaudreau, yet the counterpoint would be to wonder if it’s really that wise to mess with such a good thing. Such an argument is especially tough to make on the heels of his first career hat trick:

While Gaudreau has eight goals and 10 assists for a whopping 18 points (and possibly counting) during a 10-game point streak, Monahan collected his 21st point of this season on the primary assist. He added a helper to that hat trick the other night, so even if he’s stopped for the rest of Monday, Monahan has five points in two games. He also generated a six-game point streak (three goals, five assists) from Oct. 27 – Nov. 9.

When people haven’t been discussing Monahan’s dependence upon Gaudreau, they’ve wondered who might be the right winger for that dynamic duo.

Micheal Ferland might spell the end of that debate.

The big 25-year-old currently has 12 points in 18 games, but he’s really been revving up his production as of late. The Flyers snapped his five-game goal streak on Nov. 18, yet he extended his point streak to six contests with an assist (5G, 3A).

Logically, Ferland makes some sense for Gaudreau – Monahan. Neither of those forwards bring a lot of beef to the table, and Ferland has also shown some signs that he possesses the ability to finish the chances they can set up. As fun as it is to watch Jaromir Jagr with those two, Ferland might end up being the best fit for them since Jiri Hudler’s better Flames days.

(Ferland didn’t get an assist on Gaudreau’s goal, so he’ll need to generate some offense as this game goes along to keep his impressive streak going.)

***

Stamkos, Kucherov, and Vladislav Namestnikov probably carry the championship belts as the best scoring line in hockey, at least right now. One of the delightful things about this relatively high-scoring start to the season is that there are plenty of contenders for that imaginary title, and Gaudreau’s group shouldn’t be shortchanged in such debates.

Update: Monahan added a goal of his own (the eventual game-winner, with a primary assist by Gaudreau) as the Flames ran away with this one by a score of 4-1. Matthew Tkachuk made his presence felt as well with two assists.

About the only bummer was that Ferland’s point streak ended.

So, Gaudreau finishes the night with 31 points on the season, including 19 during this 10-game streak. Monahan now has 22 points (with six in the last two contests).

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Buzzer: Monahan the man, torrid Tavares

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Choice PHT Cuts:

Canadiens, Maple Leafs did NOT play nice.

If you didn’t think Alex Ovechkin was tough …

*Rubs eyes* A winning streak … for the Coyotes?

Connor McDavid and Oilers are sad pandas.

Players of the Night

  • Anthony Duclair‘s hat trick is well-covered here, so check that out. Duclair gets one edge on Sean Monahan in that Duclair scored all of his team’s goals on Saturday, but Monahan combined his first career hat trick with an assist, helping his Flames win in OT much like Duclair did for Arizona.

Monahan slightly upstaged Johnny Gaudreau (one goal, two assists) who was pumped to play in front of a crowd in Philly.

  • Paul Stastny collected three assists to help the Blues beat the Canucks in overtime. Check PHT on Sunday morning for an in-depth look at Brayden Schenn, who kept his hot streak going with the OT-clincher.
  • John Tavares just continues to ride high with a goal and two assists. The real stars might be the Islanders as a whole, however, as they beat the Lightning and kept Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov pointless in a 5-3 Isles win.
  • Frederik Andersen has achieved back-to-back shutouts, helping the Leafs make the Habs extra-miserable. He made 33 saves, so you could argue Montreal deserved better than a 6-0 fate.

Heel of the Night?

While Connor McDavid absorbed an odd portion of the Oilers’ blame in defeat despite a three-point night, Antoine Roussel really played up his villain cred. He collected three points of his own and did this:

Highlight of the Night

Going off script a bit here, let’s go with Alex Ovechkin bouncing back from this:

And Corey Crawford being OK despite this bump from Evgeni Malkin.

Both players helped their teams seal up wins as a bonus. (Feel free to share your favorite highlights from tonight, even if they don’t involve near-injuries.)

Factoid of the Night

Congrats, Antti Niemi. Kind of.

Here’s a free joke regarding that situation.

Scores

Flames 5, Flyers 4 (OT)
Stars 6, Oilers 3
Coyotes 3, Senators 2 (OT)
Jets 5, Devils 2
Kings 4, Panthers 0
Hurricanes 3, Sabres 1
Maple Leafs 6, Canadiens 0
Islanders 5, Lightning 3
Blackhawks 2, Penguins 1
Capitals 3, Wild 1
Predators 5, Avalanche 2
Blues 4, Canucks 3 (OT)
Bruins 3, Sharks 2

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: We’ve been pronouncing Conor Sheary’s name wrong all along

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–Some Penguins fans are really serious about their hockey team. This couple named their son “Malkin Crosby” after Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. “My wife and I had a name in mind, but we changed our mind and I threw it out there. I’m a big hockey fan, but she’s probably the biggest fan of the house, so ultimately without her the name wouldn’t have happened.” (NHL.com/Penguins)

–The Colorado Avalanche have held off on trading Matt Duchene because they still haven’t received the defenseman they’re looking for. But would it be easier for them to land a blue liner if they included Nikita Zadorov? (BSNDenver)

–The Tampa Bay Lightning have an incredibly dynamic power play thanks to weapons like Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman. Sportsnet takes a closer look at this team’s incredible man-advantage. (Sportsnet)

–Dave Goucher spent 17 years on Bruins broadcasts and now he’s joined the Vegas Golden Knights’ broadcasts. Goucher’s journey to this point has been long and incredibly interesting. (Bruins Daily)

–The St. Louis Blues were supposed to be going through a transition period, but they’ve been able to cross that bridge quicker than anticipated. “Starting out with seven of our first nine (games) on the road this year, I was excited about that when the schedule came out because it allows you to come together on the road,” said GM Doug Armstrong. “But, when we had those injuries, I was like – wow, this is going to be a large challenge for our guys. But I give the guys a ton of credit. They found ways to manufacture wins. And now there’s just a belief that — we’re going to be OK here.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Conor Sheary has been in the NHL for a couple of years. Everyone has been pronouncing his name “Sheer-y” when it should have been pronounced “Share-y” (like cherry). Who would’ve thought? (Pittsburgh Tribune)

–Flames Nation looks at the ideal deployment of Calgary’s lines and defense pairings. To no one’s surprise, the Sean Monahan line should be deployed with Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton. This is a really interesting look at the advanced stats. (flamesnation.com)

–The Edmonton Oilers have struggled to produce secondary scoring after Connor McDavid. As you’d expect, they score 58.8 percent of the goals with McDavid on the ice, but just 35.29 percent of the goals when he isn’t around. (thesuperfan.ca)

–The New Jersey Devils are off to their best start in franchise history, and the score examines three reasons why they’ve been so successful. They’ve been able to get a lot of scoring from different parts of their lineup and they’ve won a lot of games on the road. (The Score)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Do it, Flames: Put Jagr with Gaudreau, Monahan

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After an agonizing wait, the Calgary Flames bit the bullet and signed Jaromir Jagr.

To little surprise, skipping the preseason and not having an answer about the future has made for a bit of a stilted integration for the 45-year-old, who is still something of a possession monster when the puck gets on his stick.

Jagr finally collected his first point (an assist) with the Flames on Saturday, during their 5-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks. It came, fittingly, on the power play.

If assisting on a Johnny Gaudreau goal wasn’t enticing enough, take a look at the Flames’ offensive lines on Tuesday, a tempting tease with their next game coming Thursday:

Circumstance could play a role in Jagr getting at least a look with Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. As Sportsnet’s Pat Steinberg noted, Kris Versteeg wasn’t around, so Glen Gulutzan might have been adjusting to Versteeg – Sam Bennett – Jagr not being an option.

(Micheal Ferland also has been a little banged up lately, although you can see that he at least suited up.)

Still, it’s fun to cross one’s fingers and hope that Jagr gets an extended look with the dynamic duo, especially since he enjoyed so much success in a similar situation with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau during his time with the Florida Panthers.

So far, the Flames have already experimented with Jagr in such a situation. From an even-strength perspective, he’s spent about two-thirds of his time with Bennett/Versteeg and one-third with Gaudreau/Monahan, according to Natural Stat Trick’s numbers.

Flames Nation’s Ari Yanover provides a fascinating perspective: maybe the experimenting should continue, with Jagr being used in a variety of attacking zone situations.

Perhaps the focus is a little less on “who should Jagr be playing with” and more on “whoever is getting the most offensive zone starts, that’s Jagr’s line”. And typically, it’s Gaudreau’s line getting the offensive zone starts. So maybe, once Jagr is ready, that should be his line after all. We know he has it in him – not just because he’s, well, Jaromir Jagr, but also because that’s exactly what he was doing in Florida half a year ago.

Interesting.

Selfishly, as fans of the aging wonder, many of us simply want more Jagr.

Being selective with how he’s deployed might just be the ticket for the Flames. It’s sensible that Jagr’s getting 13 minutes of ice time per game (with almost exactly three of them coming on the power play), especially as he eases in. Greedily, we still want more, but it’s up to Calgary to decide if that’s actually the best way to optimize what they have.

As the season goes along, it will be fun to see how Jagr is used. There aren’t many weapons like him in the NHL, and that’s assuming that he can still get it done.

(So far, the answer seems to be “mostly yes.”)

For another look at how Jagr could fit into the Flames’ lines, check out this bit from before the season.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Blood feud between Doughty, Tkachuk overshadows Jagr’s Flames debut

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BREAKING: Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings really, really don’t like Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk.

As great of a story as Jaromir Jagr’s Calgary Flames debut was, the building blood feud between Doughty and Tkachuk (or, really, Los Angeles vs. Tkachuk) provided the greatest fireworks.

You could argue that Tkachuk got the upper hand, although that might come down to how much weight you place on the havoc he helped create. Either way, the Flames were able to snag a dramatic 4-3 overtime win after Sean Monahan scored the clincher.

Tkachuk scored two goals and came close to notching the clincher in regulation after he exited the penalty box, but it was the jawing he did with Doughty in the penalty box that captivated. (Or, in the case of the Kings, enraged.)

It was so entertaining, it’s worth putting up GIFs from multiple angles.

And:

Allow me to suggest a theme song for the occasion.

As a reminder, this disdain goes back to 2016-17, Tkachuk’s bombastic, impressive, and abrasive rookie season.

Back in March, Tkachuk received a two-game suspension for a hit on Doughty. Not long after, Tkachuk seemed to get one over on Doughty as the Kings sought revenge. At the bottom of this post, witness Mike Milbury criticizing the response while Tkachuk threw his body around:

Now, cut to this game.

Tkachuk likely already frustrated the Kings by opening the scoring with a power-play goal, but sending the game to overtime was only part of the late-game carnage. Check the video above this post’s headline for a taste of the bad blood between the two teams.

Again, it’s not just Doughty vs. Tkachuk … but that growing animosity certainly feels like a catalyst between these two teams.

The bile may only build further if these two franchises continue to vie for positioning – or just a single playoff spot – in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This marks a third straight win for the Flames while the Kings suffered their first loss.

The only bummer is that this is the last time in this calendar year for these two teams to clash; their next game comes in Calgary on Jan. 4.

A quick look at Jagr’s debut

As anticipated, Jaromir Jagr debuted on a line with Sam Bennett and Kris Versteeg.

Jagr was unable to generate a point while finishing with a -1 rating. He received 13:38 of ice time, with 2:23 coming on the power play. He didn’t fire a shot on goal, but that might not be a big deal; Jagr’s greatest strengths may come down to keeping the puck in the attacking zone and dishing to teammates, wherever the Flames ultimately decide to use him.

The best grade for Jagr is probably an “Incomplete” after one game.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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