The Flames aren’t heading to the post-season after last season’s magical run, but that doesn’t mean there’s no reason to be excited about what the future might hold in Calgary. After all, putting Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan together seems to make magic, and Jiri Hudler was the lucky recipient of that magic Thursday night.
In the first period of a scoreless game, a pinching Mark Giordano managed to keep the puck in the Islanders’ zone, where the trio of Gaudreau, Monahan and Hudler took over. After taking a short pass from Monahan, Gaudreau drifted toward the net and drew a defender in before changing the angle of his body with a quick pivot and slipping an awesome pass back to Monahan. Monahan then slipped the puck over to Hudler, who had to do nothing but rifle the puck into a now wide-open net:
It should come as no surprise that Gaudreau and Monahan are one-two in Flames scoring given how well the two operated on the goal, and already it looks as though, offensively, this is their team. Gaudreau’s 22 goals and 59 points put him sixth in league scoring, while Monahan’s 18 goals and 41 points have him on a pace that’s close to matching his 62-point season from 2014-15.
With the way Gaudreau and Monahan play together, it’s tough not to be reminded of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, and it makes sense considering the Calgary duo is rarely apart. This season, Gaudreau has skated only 166 5-on-5 minutes without Monahan, who himself has only seen the ice for 113 5-on-5 minutes without Gaudreau. They’re near inseparable.
This off-season will show how much faith the Flames have in the duo leading them into the future, too. Gaudreau and Monahan will become restricted free agents at season’s end and there’s little doubt Calgary will ink both. For how much and how long, however, is the question. Gaudreau could easily become the Flames’ highest-paid player, while Monahan might not be far behind.