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Centre will be fastest player in team history to reach milestone

by TY PILSON @typilson /

Craig Conroy perhaps summed it up best.

When the Flames assistant GM was asked his thoughts on centre Sean Monahan being just one goal away from 100 in his young career, he cracked a smile and shook his head in awe of the upcoming achievement.

"Well, it's amazing for a young guy to come in (and do that)," he answered. "It's hard to score goals in the league now and just for him to already be one away from a hundred it's impressive."

Impressive, indeed.

When the Flames take on the Penguins tonight in Pittsburgh (5 P.M. MT, Sportsnet, FAN960), there's a good chance Monahan may hit that century mark.

He's had a hot hand over the last month, scoring nine goals in 11 games. In Friday's 4-3 OT win over the Devils in New Jersey, he scored once but easily could have picked up two or three more in a dominating performance.

He was held goalless in the Flames 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers at MSG on Sunday, setting up another chance Tuesday night against the Pens to tally the historic marker.

He would become the youngest player in team history to achieve that feat, sitting at 22 years and 118 days old when the puck drops at PPG Paints Arena.

The current mark for fastest to 100 wearing the Flaming C came courtesy of Joe Nieuwendyk, who was 22 years and 185 days old.

For his part, Monahan admits the record snuck up on him.

"I didn't even really know about it until the media started talking about it," he said Monday following the team's practice in Pittsburgh. "100 goals or 99 goals or whatever it is, it doesn't really bother me. I just play my game and I mean every time I'm on the ice I'm trying to produce so getting that goal will be pretty cool."

It's no surprise the laid-back and even-keeled Monahan was quick to deflect from himself when the subject was brought up.

"I don't really look at personal goals or that kind of stuff," said Monahan. "But I mean getting 100 goals would be probably pretty cool there. I play with good players, that makes it easier on me and I get a lot of opportunities so that's where I give a lot of credit to."

Given the all the great young players who have skated for the Flames, Conroy agreed the accomplishment will be exceptional.

"It's exciting for me," said Conroy. "From the time we drafted to see him to this point so quickly (and being) such a huge part of our team."

So what's allowed Monahan to score so many goals so quick?

"The one thing about him, he has an unbelievable shot," explained Conroy. "The way he kind of hides it and the release he has. It's one of the better shots in the league."

His often linemate Johnny Gaudreau agrees.

"He's got a great shot, an unbelievable shot," said Gaudreau. "It makes my job easy. I just try to find him there in the slot and when he gets a chance there in the slot most of the time it's going in the net cause he has just such a great shot."

Gaudreau has had a front-row seat for many of Monahan's markers, often collecting points himself thanks to the skill of his centre. 

"He's a talented hockey player and he's a fun guy to play with and I've gotten to play with him the last two or three years here," said Gaudreau. "We've built as good chemistry on the ice together and a good chemistry off the ice; we're good friends off the ice, as well. I'm happy for him and it's great to see a great accomplishment like that."

With 19 goals on the season, Monahan has broken out of a funk where he struggled to find the back of the net for periods earlier in the season. But Conroy said goals alone don't define what Monahan brings to the team.

"Even when he wasn't scoring he has getting lots of chances," said Conroy. "He was still doing all the things but it seems like his overall game right now, whether it's D-zone or coming out, it's all better. It's all coming up. I know he's going throught a hot streak which always helps but that's with hard work and our team has been winning because of it."

So while Monahan isn't focusing on Goal 100 or envisioning how it might come, potting the game winner against the Pens Tuesday night would be a nice touch.

 "That would be great," he smiled.


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