Sean Monahan has lived up to expectations in his rookie year.
The 19-year-old has been an offensive presence in his first season with the Calgary Flames.
“At the end of the day, I’m just trying to play hockey and do the little things to be a good player,” said Monahan, the sixth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.
During Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings, Monahan proved how much he has matured as a pro in just his first year with the Flames. The Brampton, ON. native netted his 21st goal of the season, making him the first Calgary rookie to score 21 goals in their first season since former Flames captain Jarome Iginla did it during the 1996-97 season.
Monahan also became just the 10th Flames’ rookie to score 20 goals in a season, joining the likes of Haken Loob, Carey Wilson, Joel Otto, Brett Hull, Joe Nieuwendyk, Sergei Makarov, Paul Ranheim, Iginla and Dion Phaneuf.
He is also just the second Flames rookie to score 20 goals under 20-years-old.
“It’s pretty cool, obviously it’s just a number,” Monahan said. “It’s cool to be talked about in that group.”
Monahan has also been clutch in the shootout for the Flames, scoring five goals on eight shootout attempts.
Four of those goals have been game-deciders. Only T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues and the Kings’ Anze Kopitar have more this season with five each.
“Being in that situation where you have to score a goal to win the game gives you confidence,” Monahan said.
Monahan knows that he has to continue to improve as a professional and get better heading into his sophomore season next year with the Flames.
“It’s going to be a big summer,” he said. “I’m going to come back quicker, more physical and better in the faceoff circle.
“It’s going to help my all-around game next year.”
Finnish netminder Karri Ramo’s play as of late has given him the inside track to being the Flames starting goaltender next season.
“I think that he has positioned himself very well for the number one job next year,” Hartley said. “He is not the normal goalie; there is no pressure [on him].”
In his past three starts, Ramo has stopped 103 of the 107 shots he’s faced, winning all three games while posting one shutout in that span. His save percentage is a sparkling .967 while his goals against average is just 1.33 on his three game winning streak.
Since returning from a knee injury in late March, Ramo has won six of nine games, giving up just 20 goals in that span.
But the big change in Ramo’s game came around the Christmas holidays. Since the New Year, Ramo has posted a record of 11-7-1 in 18 starts for Calgary.
“Even before he got hurt, I thought he was playing really well then,” Joey MacDonald said. “He was on a real good roll. Coming over (from Europe) is a big step. Everything is a little bit quicker and it always takes a bit of time to get used to that pace.
“Now, he’s a lot more patient.”
The 27-year-old goaltender may have struggled to find a groove when he first joined the team early in the season, but Hartley understood that those sorts of things would happen.
“He [Ramo] had a big ankle surgery in the middle of the summer,” Hartley said. “He was medically cleared, but was he great? Absolutely not.
“It was tough to get back into the NHL rhythm, he needed time.”
The Flames were missing another key contributor in practice Thursday as Mike Cammalleri did not skate with the team. Cammalleri took a stick to the face in the game against Los Angeles on Wednesday, but he is not expected to miss either of Calgary’s final two games of the season.
“[Cammalleri] should be back tomorrow,” Hartley said. “It (today’s missed practice) was about the cut he got, he lost a tooth.”
The Flames already have a long list of injured skaters heading into the final weekend of the season, including Dennis Wideman (upper body), Markus Granlund (upper body), David Jones (upper body), Ladislav Smid (upper body), Mikael Backlund (upper body) and Tyler Wotherspoon (shoulder surgery).
Of those injured, Hartley indicated that Backlund is the only player who could possibly return to the lineup for Calgary in the final two games of the season.
“He reminds me of Kipper out there, the way he moves, he’s quick and has great legs. It’s fun to watch.”
-MacDonald on Ramo’s play
The Flames play their final home game of season Friday against the Winnipeg Jets (7 p.m. MST, SNET-West, SN960). Calgary will then wrap up their regular season Sunday when they take on the Vancouver Canucks, (6 p.m. MST, SNET-W, SN960).