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STAR STUDDED

Monahan honoured to be named NHL's First Star of the Week

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

No ribbons or wrapping or tug-at-the-heart Hallmark-style cards. No candles to blow out. No postage required. No store product-return desks to brave.

Just the gift of old-fashioned parental pride.

Unbeatable.

Ask Cathy Monahan.

"I'll take it,'' acknowledged apple-of-her-eye son Sean of his Monday selection as the NHL's First Star of the Week. "But it happened to be my mom's birthday yesterday, too.

"So it was nice for her.

"She's a special woman to me and obviously I try to make her birthdays as special as possible.

"I didn't even really know until I started getting a couple texts and our PR guy Peter Hanlon told me. I think I've been a star of the week before, once or twice.

"But it's not something I keep track of.

"Like I said, the bigger thing was it was nice for my mom's birthday."

If Mrs. Monahan is happy, the Flames are over-the-moon ecstatic about their top centreman's rich vein of form of late.

Two points for No. 23 in a morale-boosting triumph in Toronto to kick the week off, then helpers on the tying strike and OT winner at Buffalo on the business end of back-to-backs, a couple more points returning home in the stirring comeback stunner over Colorado followed by goals 7 and 8 of the early season as an exclamation point during that one-way-traffic, third-period bulldozing of the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, coast-to-coast on Hockey Night in Canada.

Video: CHI@CGY: Monahan ties the game with his second goal

Considering Vancouver's willowy rookie prodigy Elias Pettersson was eliciting rave reviews for his jaw-dropping turns and Tampa's precocious Brayden Point hit for a five-point night among his eight points, Monahan being identified as the No. 1 star only serves to underscore the quality of his work week.

"I would think all three teams won a lot of hockey games,'' reasoned Flames' coach Bill Peters, when asked about the selection. "So you've got to be playing well individually but your team's got to be winning, too, to get that recognition.

"And Mony would be the first to tell you it's easier when the guys are playing well, the powerplay is good.

"You look at the two goals he scored (vs. Chicago), a world-class play on a powerplay for him to find the open ice, real good job there. Then that cross-seam pass by Johnny. That's big-time skill all around. And now if I remember, Lindy kicked it out on his backhand to get it going.

"Everyone makes a good play so that at the end of the day the red light goes on.

"That's good hockey."

Good hockey that's hinting at ramping up to great, maybe unstoppable, hockey. As everyone knows the old reliable firm of Monahan and Gaudreau has taken on a new partner, Elias Lindholm, and business has been positively booming, the line connecting for a collective 54 points through 15 starts.

"I think we all play a little bit of a different game,'' adjudged Monahan. "I still think we've got a lot of room to grow, to learn off each other.

"But it's coming.

"Right now we're still working together to get better. And we'll continue to do that."

"(Lindholm) steps into the right side in the circle. He's good in the face-off circle. He's good with the puck. He's responsible. Shoots the puck well. Thinks the game well.

"He's basically a complete player. It's a pleasure to play with him."

Video: COL@CGY: Monahan tips home Hanifin's big drive

Right back at you, Sean.

"So smart out there,'' lauded Lindholm. "He knows where to go, to the right areas, to score goals. I've followed him through the years in the NHL, we were in the same draft.

"A combination of hard work and smarts has helped us (as a line). It's not often you come to the NHL and find such good chemistry with guys.

"There's been some games we haven't been as successful but overall we've done a pretty good job.

"Little surprised it's worked so well so early."

Heading out on the California trip - Anaheim, followed by L.A. and San Jose - the Flames will be counting on more of the same: Johnny Gaudreau glittering like a Saturday Night Fever disco ball, Lindholm acting as the ideal counterpoint.

And the NHL's First Star of the Week just passed finding that extra couple feet of working space to pull the trigger.

"It's a gift,'' agreed Peters. "He's done it his whole life.

"He's been able to score at every level. He didn't miss a beat coming out of junior to the National Hockey League. So he understands timing and the spacing that's needed.

"He's very patient jumping in the holes and he's got an unbelievable release. You combine all those factors and you get a goal scorer.

"Lucky to have him."

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