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THE CASE FOR MONY

A career year helped Monahan join the elite; now, the Flames' No. 1 centre looks to bring home his first NHL award

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

Mark Giordano and Sean Monahan are set to walk the red carpet at the 2019 NHL Awards this Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Giordano, the odds-on favourite after a stellar 2018-19 season, is nominated for both the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenceman, as well as the Mark Messier Leadership Award, which is given to the "player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice, and plays a leading role in his community growing the game of hockey."

Giordano is pitted against his Pacific Division rival Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks and reigning champ Victor Hedman of the Presidents' Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning.

Monahan, meanwhile, looks to become the fourth player in franchise history to bring home the Lady Byng Trophy, which is given to the "player voted to best combine sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability."

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov and St. Louis Blues pivot and recently crowned Conn Smythe winner, Ryan O'Reilly, are his two challengers.

Joe Mullen (1987, 1989), Jiri Hudler (2015) and Johnny Gaudreau (2017) are the other Flames to have brought home the award.

This weekend, we're taking a closer look at each nominee and making a case for why for 'Gio' and 'Mony' should take home the hardware.

Today, we cover the Flames' second leading goal-getter, Sean Monahan:

 

THE FOUNDATION

It was, 'round here, some of the sport's most compelling theatre.

Totally transfixing.

Electric.

Just plain awesome.

The 'Johnny and Mony Show; was not only back for another year - it delivered in such a way that made waves, league-wide, and helped drive the Flames to 107 points and their first division title in 13 years.

The Flames' No. 1 centre racked up new career highs in goals (34), assists (48) and points (82), and in the process helped his longtime wingman come within a smidge of his first 100-point campaign.

 

Video: CGY@CHI: Monahan picks the corner for power-play goal

 

The Brampton, Ont., native is now the only second player in franchise history to score at least 20 goals in six straight seasons. Kent Nilsson (1979-85) is the other.

The 24-year-old was notably potent on the powerplay, scoring 23 (12G, 11A) of his 82 points with the man-advantage to rank fourth in that category, trailing Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk. He was tied with Mikael Backlund for first on the Flames in takeaways (78) and second in points per 60 minutes (3.31), third in goals per 60 minutes (1.37), and second in assists per 60 minutes (1.94)

All that, while compiling only six minors for 12 penalty minutes.

 

THE DATA

Monahan helped generate 51.94% of the regular scoring chances and 52.63% of the high-danger variety when he was on the ice, 5-on-5. While his production tailed off a bit in the back half of the campaign, what separates Monahan from the rest of his Flames teammates is an elite finishing ability in the high-traffic areas of the ice.

His on-ice shooting percentage was second only to Gaudreau at 10.47% at even strength, with a good chunk of those coming from inside the circles and cleaning up in front of the net.

Thirty-four of his 211 shots on goal this year were snapshots, leading the Flames in this category. He scored on six of them, doubling the output of his nearest competitor, first-year Flame Elias Lindholm.

 

Video: CGY@SJS: Monahan goes top shelf, picks up 300th point

 

Barkov, whose defensive game is elite and took an even bigger step last year, isn't as much of a driver on offence, thanks - in small part - to 42.44 offensive zone-start percentage.

His Corsi, SCF% and HDCF% metrics are below 50 and rank outside the Top 10 among Florida forwards.

O'Reilly, meanwhile, had similar numbers to Monahan, with a slightly more defensive-minded deployment.

The veteran finished with a 53.44% Corsi, was 54.77 SCF% and a 56.03 HDCF%, and an on-ice shooting percentage of 9.30.

Three players.

Three roles.

Three different results.

Monahan, who averaged 19:03 in total ice time per game, played three-and-a-half minutes less than Barkov, and almost two full minutes less than O'Reilly.

He also missed four games during the regular campaign while his counterparts each played a full season, which may have helped bolster their final point totals.

Monahan and O'Reilly both had 12 penalty minutes, while Barkov took home the green jacket among the three finalists with eight.

 

 

THE DECISION

While path from good to great is rarely direct, what the 24-year-old Monahan did was turn a big corner this year.

To go from perennial '60-point guy' to a point-per-game star on the verge on 35, 40 goals and 85, 90-plus points…

Mark it down. He's officially joined the elite.

This nomination is just further evidence of that.

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