While not mathematically eliminated yet, the loss of star forward Sean Monahan seems to be the final nail in the coffin for the Calgary Flames.
It was announced Friday that Monahan was done for the season after dealing with not just one, but two injuries. It was reported that he was dealing with a wrist injury that will require surgery and a hip injury that he kept playing through.
The loss of Monahan will leave a gaping hole in the Flames’ lineup. Throughout the entire season, the Flames have relied heavily on the dynamic duo of Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, and while Gaudreau is a great player, he can’t carry this team into the playoffs by himself.
Monahan and Gaudreau have a combined 146 points for the Flames — Gaudreau with 82 and Monahan with 64. Following Gaudreau and Monahan, the next closest is second-year pro Matthew Tkachuk, who’s collected 49 points this season.
The Flames’ inability to find other scorers in their lineup was the ultimate downfall to this year’s team. Looking through Calgary’s roster, there’s a lot of veteran leadership and players who’ve been in those big games, but that’s not going to help a team achieve a deep playoff run if they can’t score — and the Flames learned that the hard way.
It was just two months ago that everything seemed to be falling into place for the Flames. They were winning games and climbing the standings. Through the month of January they won six games and collected at least one point in all but one game. But, when Monahan and Gaudreau went cold, so did the team.
If the Flames want to have success in the coming seasons they need to build a bigger offensive presence that doesn’t solely rely on Monahan and Gaudreau. The Calgary Flames are going to be one of the teams that misses the playoffs that has the most potential. Monahan and Gaudreau are still young, there’s Tkachuk who has gotten progressively better throughout his two season and there’s talent on the blue line with defensemen Dougie Hamilton and Travis Hamonic.
While, yes, this team probably isn’t going to be making its run at the Stanley Cup this season, the Flames aren’t far off. If they’re able to shed some contracts with players on the back end of their career and bring in some younger players who can score, this team has the potential to be a threat for years to come. The right choices just need to be made. And, the Flames should aim to get a first round pick in the upcoming draft.
The loss of Monahan will sign the Flames’ death certificate for this season, but it may be better in the long run. With the amount of work Monahan has put in throughout the past few seasons to give the Flames a chance, it’s probably for the best that he gets some time off to rest and get healthy. This team is going to need him healthy to start the 2018-2019 season, because there’s potential in the young stars and Monahan will need to be there to lead the team.