Monahan decision looms as Flames start road trip

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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.”