They’re fun to coach, and they’re fun to watch. They’re moving so well, and they’re creative. They’re responsible, they’re playing the right way, and it’s as simple as this. - Bob Hartley
CALGARY, AB -- It's probably sounding a little cliché to Sean Monahan.
But the second-year centre probably doesn't mind talking about the success he and linemates Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler are having of late. The trio -- again -- took the spotlight at Scotiabank Saddledome, combining for four goals and nine points in a rout of the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3 on Sunday.
“We are clicking,” said Monahan. “All our games are a little bit different. [Hudler] is a playmaker and Johnny, he’s got speed and can make plays as well. With us together, we like to talk and sort things out out there. We’re getting the job done.”
Clicking might be an understatement.
Counting nine tagged to Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer, Monahan, Gaudreau and Hudler have combined for 16 goals and 30 points -- all coming on individual six-game point scoring streaks for the trio.
“They’re unbelievable,” coach Bob Hartley said. “They’re fun to coach, and they’re fun to watch. They’re moving so well, and they’re creative. They’re responsible, they’re playing the right way, and it’s as simple as this. They’re picking up tons of points playing the right way, and that’s why we’re winning games.”
The stretch has established a new career-high in points for Hudler at 58, while Monahan has extended personal-bests to 27 goals and 51 points. Gaudreau, in his first season of professional hockey, sits tied for the rookie lead in scoring with 53 points.
“We're playing well right now,” Gaudreau said. “We're feeling a little more with each other as each game goes on. The chemistry is there. For me, it's the chemistry. When you get to play with a player or a few players throughout the whole season, you just feel really comfortable with them on and off the ice. You learn more and more about them and where they're going to be at on the ice and that's what we're doing right now.
It couldn’t come at a better time.
Thanks in part to the explosion from Calgary’s top line, the Flames moved ahead of the idle Vancouver Canucks and into second in the Pacific Division. Already sitting in front of the Winnipeg Jets, who hold the second of two wild-card berths in the West, Calgary also jumped in front of the Minnesota Wild, the first wild-card holders, and into fifth in the Western Conference.
All without captain Mark Giordano.
After losing their captain to a torn biceps muscle in the late stages of a 3-1 win against the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 25, the Flames have posted a 5-1-1 record.
The run, Monahan admitted, is inspired by Giordano.
“It’s huge,” Monahan said. “[Giordano] is a huge part of our team. I think with him out some guys have to step up and right now we’re trying to be those guys and right now it’s working for us. We’re kind of doing it for him. He is a big part of our team. He’s our captain and he means a lot to us. We’re trying to step up and get the job done here for him.”