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Short practice for Monahan, will play for Flames

by Aaron Vickers /

CALGARY -- The appearance by forward Sean Monahan at Calgary Flames was expected. The departure prompted questions.

But Monahan's brief skate Tuesday morning was by design.

"That was the plan," the 20-year-old center said. "Obviously I had a few days off there to get some rest, and the plan was for me to go out there and see how I feel. I felt good and I felt like that's all I needed. The plan was, when I felt like I was OK, I should get off then. That's what we did. We'll go from there.

"Everything's OK. Guys are going to be skeptical and things like that, but it was the plan to at least get my feet under me with the team. I was out there with the team. I was feeling good and I just felt that was the right time for me to get off."

After the Flames clinched their first Stanley Cup Playoff appearance since 2009 with a 3-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, Monahan didn't participate in an optional skate Friday and was among six players who didn't travel to play the Winnipeg Jets in the regular-season finale Saturday.

A day off Sunday was followed by practice Monday, and Monahan was absent.

Returning as promised, Monahan's 10-minute skate at Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday left questions about his status heading into Western Conference First Round Game 1 against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday (10 pm ET; CBC, USA, TVA Sports).

"That was part of our plan, just making sure that he gets to skate," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "He's been playing tons of hockey and we want to make sure that he's as rested as he can be. That was set right from the start."

Prompted for assurance Monahan would be in the lineup, taking his usual spot on the top line between veteran Jiri Hudler and Calder Trophy candidate Johnny Gaudreau, Hartley offered none.

"Everybody is a game-time decision," the coach said.

Monahan said, "I'll be in the lineup. I feel like I'm ready. I'm ready to go. This is playoff hockey, so I'm excited about it."

Monahan is the 11th player in the past 20 NHL seasons to have at least 30 goals and 30 assists in the same season before their age-21 season. Among them are Sidney Crosby (twice), Marian Gaborik (twice), Steven Stamkos (twice), Patrice Bergeron, Anze Kopitar, Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews and Jeff Skinner.

"It's an exciting time," said Monahan, who had 31 goals and 31 assists in his second NHL season. "I've never been through it. This is a real exciting time for me and I'm really looking forward to this."

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