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Monahan healthy, ready for playoffs with Flames

Forward missed last two games of regular season with illness

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

CALGARY -- Sean Monahan expects to be a key factor for the Calgary Flames in the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series against the Colorado Avalanche.

The Flames, who won the Pacific Division, will play Game 1 against the Avalanche at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, ALT).

"I'm in a situation where I've got to produce," Monahan said. "You've got to do your job. That's part of it. You look at our team and look at the depth … there's guys in here that are going to be relied on to get the job and I'm going to be one of them.


[RELATED: Complete Flames vs. Avalanche series coverage]


"Every guy here is eager to make an impact on the postseason. That goes for myself, too. I want to do a great job here for this team."

Monahan, who centers Calgary's top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm, ranked second on the Flames behind Gaudreau with an NHL career-high 82 points, including setting personal bests in goals (34) and assists (48).

His efforts helped Calgary (50-25-7) finish with the best record in the Western Conference for the first time since 1988-89, when it won its only Stanley Cup.

Video: CGY@SJS: Monahan nets backdoor feed from Gaudreau

"He's huge," goalie Mike Smith said. "He's been important for our team all season long. He's a younger player, but he's also a player that has played a number of years in this League (six) and he wants to take his game to the next level. You can see it in his eyes. You want to make a name for yourself in the playoffs, and [Monahan's] no different in that. 

"He's going to be a big player for us, obviously. Your top players are important pieces to your team success. [Monahan's] been a good player for us all season long even when he wasn't scoring. He'll continue to do that, but he's ready to take that next step, too, in his career and what better way to do that than the Stanley Cup Playoffs."

Monahan will enter the playoffs healthy and rested after missing time late in the regular season because of an illness.

He played 11:41, well below his season average of 19:03, in a 7-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings on April 1 before being scratched in consecutive losses to the Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers to end the season.

"He's huge," Lindholm said. "Obviously, one of our best players. He had a good year. We really need him. You can tell when he's not in the lineup how different it is. It'll be good. It was good for him to get some rest. 

"He's a dangerous guy. Good goal-scorer. He goes to the dirty areas. For us to have him healthy in the playoffs is going to be huge."

Video: ANA@CGY: Monahan buries rebound to give Flames lead

Monahan also missed consecutive games against the Winnipeg Jets and Columbus Blue Jackets, on March 16 and 19 respectively, because of an illness.

His return will play a key factor for Calgary.

"He's the first-line center on our team," captain Mark Giordano said. "It's good that he got the rest he needed. He looked good out there in practice (Monday). He's obviously a huge part of our team. Plays a big role on that line, plays a big role on our power play. 

"I think you see it with him … he gets in those spots and he scores. He can change the game with one shot. If you need that big goal, it seems like he's always there. He's a really important player for us. Really huge to get him back."

This will be Monahan's third time playing in the playoffs for Calgary. He had six points (three goals, three assists) in 11 games when the Flames advanced to the Western Conference Second Round in 2015, and had five points (four goals, one assist) when they were swept in the first round by the Anaheim Ducks in 2017.

Now, Monahan is ready for more.

"It's an exciting time," he said. "That's why you play. It's a long year, 82 games. Your goal is the postseason.

"I feel great. It's going to be a good series. Playoffs are fun. You have to be ready mentally and physically."

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