Saturday, January 16, 2021

Flames’ Gaudreau, Monahan out to prove they can still be dynamic duo

Flames' Gaudreau, Monahan out to prove they can still be dynamic duo

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“I’m at the point in my career where you just want to win. I think, playing with Johnny, it helps. Obviously, we know each other very well. And now, it’s time for us to both step up and make a bigger impact for this team.”


Go ahead and number the Calgary Flames’ forward lines.

Just don’t ask head coach Geoff Ward to do it for you.

“No, can’t,” Ward insisted with a chuckle. “And when you get to the point that you really don’t want to, I think it’s a really good situation. Now, you feel comfortable with your depth. You feel confident in the fact that you can roll four lines out there and you can use them the way that you need to in order to win hockey games.”

For the last several seasons, it’s been this simple — Calgary’s first line has been the trio of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and whoever is skating on their right wing.

Gaudreau and Monahan are still logging their shifts together, currently with Josh Leivo as the third wheel, but many figure that a new-look crew of Elias Lindholm, Matthew Tkachuk and Dillon Dube should be billed as the top unit.

So does that mean Mikael Backlund and Andrew Mangiapane, two-thirds of the second line last season, are now on the third peg on the depth chart? And that Sam Bennett and Milan Lucic are on the fourth?

“The fans and media are going to number them 1, 2, 3 and 4, and that’s fine,” Ward said. “But as coaches, we feel like we’ve got four real good lines. And depending on the situation and who is going on a particular night, how that 1, 2, 3 and 4 looks may be different. That’s a good problem for us to have.

“When we get to a point that we don’t have to number them, then we feel real good about the depth that we have on our hockey team and we feel like we’re going to be able to ice four really strong lines.”

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