It’s just good to get some rest and feel 100 percent and have all the energy you can for Game 1. That’s what’s best for me. I play a lot of minutes and we’re on the ice every day. Going hard every day is tough on your body and I think getting some rest is good and it’s going to benefit me. - Sean Monahan
CALGARY, AB -- Rest assured. Sean Monahan is good to go.
The 20-year-old sophomore centre didn't take to the ice for practice Monday as the Calgary Flames began preparation for a date with the Vancouver Canucks in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But he’s ready.
"He's fine, he's going to be in the lineup on Wednesday,” coach Bob Hartley said.
Calgary’s top middle-man finished third in club scoring with 62 points, while his 31 goals tied linemate Jiri Hudler for the team lead.
The totals put him among elite company.
Over the past 20 NHL seasons there have been 11 players to have at least 30 goals and 30 assists in the same season before their 21-year-old season. Among them are Sidney Crosby (twice), Marian Gaborik (twice), Steven Stamkos (twice), Patrice Bergeron, Anze Kopitar, Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews and Jeff Skinner.
He’s earned the break.
“I skated this morning before the team went on,” Monahan said. “It’s just good to get some rest and feel 100 percent and have all the energy you can for Game 1. That’s what’s best for me. I play a lot of minutes and we’re on the ice every day. Going hard every day is tough on your body and I think getting some rest is good and it’s going to benefit me.”
Monahan wasn’t the only absentee from the Flames’ skate.
Defenceman Kris Russell also opted out of practice.
He’ll also be ready by Wednesday, according to Hartley.
"He's fine,” the coach said. “He's going to be in the lineup on Wednesday."
Russell, 27, let the NHL and established a single-season record for shot blocks in a season at 283, 84 ahead of Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators, who finished second.
He also stepped up in the absence of captain Mark Giordano.
Prior to Feb. 25, when Giordano sustained his season-ending injury after getting tangled up with forward Steve Bernier in the late stages of a win against the New Jersey Devils, Russell played in excess of 25 minutes 13 times in 59 games. In the 20 games post-Giordano, Russell exceeded that mark 14 times.
He also helped make up for some of the offence that was lost. After starting the season with one goal and 20 points, Russell scored three goals and 14 points in the first 20 games after Giordano's injury.
The news on Calgary’s injury front was also encouraging. Though goaltender Karri Ramo, defenceman Raphael Diaz and forwards Lance Bouma and Paul Byron didn’t take the skate, all are improving, Hartley declared.
“All day to day,” he said. “They’re progressing unbelievably well.”
Ramo missed the final three games of the regular season after sustaining a lower body injury against the Edmonton Oilers. Diaz missed the final four skates after sustaining a lower body injury against the St. Louis Blues. Byron, who has missed 23 of the past 24 outings with a lower body injury, and Bouma, who has sat for two straight, also remain out.
The foursome, Flames general manager Brad Treliving suggested, are progressing.
“Everybody, I think, is day-to-day. You probably hear that a lot,” he suggested. “They’re all doing well and we’ll sort of see. Guys are making progress and we’ll see where we’re at.”
NOTES: Drew Shore skated alongside Jiri Hudler and Johnny Gaudreau in practice. Sam Bennett, who made his NHL debut Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets in Calgary’s season finale, skated with Mikael Backlund and Joe Colborne.