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Dynamic Duo know they have to bring their A-games against Ducks

by AARON VICKERS @aavickers /

Truth be told, it's a moment Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau talked about many months ago.

A moment they'll live Thursday.

A return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We're really excited," Gaudreau detailed.

"We wanted to make the playoffs last year and didn't get the chance. This year, over the summer, we were excited about this season and excited about the new opportunity, new guys on our team and new faces around the locker-room. Ever since then we knew how important it was to get back to the playoffs.

"After we signed both our deals we knew it was going to be an exciting six years and we wanted to start it off on the right track here in the first season getting back to the playoffs and hopefully going on a little run here."

The cliché, as dusty as 'pucks in deep' and 'we just have to play our game,' reads that, in order to be successful this time of season, your best players have to be your best players.

Gaudreau led the team in scoring for a second straight season, netting 43 assists and 61 points over 72 games played.

Monahan was first with 27 goals. He finished second to only Gaudreau with 58 points.

Calgary's best know they have to be Calgary's best.

"If you want to be the best you put a lot of pressure on yourself," Monahan said. "It weighs in all the time. I think that kind of stuff actually makes you better. Me and Johnny lean on one another. When you want to win as bad as this group does here, you want to be a big part of it.

"You feel that pressure.

"At the same time it's playoff hockey and it's the best time to play." 

They'd know.

They've been there before.

Gaudreau had four goals and nine points in 11 games as a rookie two seasons ago, when the Flames dispatched the Vancouver Canucks in six games in the first round before falling in five games to the Anaheim Ducks.

Monahan, a sophomore, had three goals and six points.

 It's understandable if the duo is ready for another go-round.

"I think it's exciting for them," forward Kris Versteeg said. "They've been there one time before. I think they've had a taste of it and a taste of what the city can become and how it can rally behind people. I think they want it more.

"As big players, big moments…that's what they should want."

 Big players.

 Set for more big moments.

 With a big experience under their belts.

"You talk all you want but experience obviously helps knowing what an NHL playoff experience is like," forward Matt Stajan said. "For those guys…we've got two rounds last time that were pretty intense and we played these guys in one of them. There aren't going to be any surprises.

"We know what to expect.

"We need everybody going and those two guys are obviously keys for us."

 The pair knows it.

 Understands it.

 Embraces it.

 And, suggested Monahan, the pair is ready for it.

"We've talked about it a lot now," he said.

"That's been our goal from Day 1, since we've been together here. Once you get to playoffs anything can happen. We're taking it game by game here, shift by shift.

"This is going to be a lot of fun."


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