Calgary’s first-line centre has been filling the net. In fact, Monahan is just the second marksman in Flames’ franchise history to light the lamp four times in the first three games of a new campaign. The Blues are also getting plenty of production from their top pivot — prized off-season acquisition Ryan O’Reilly has assisted on four of the five goals his squad has scored so far.
FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME
- On second thought …
The Flames’ initial plan was that backup David Rittich would be between the pipes against the Blues, but that could change after Mike Smith pitched a 43-save shutout in Nashville, the first stop on this three-game getaway. The go-to goalie wants a chance to build on his splendid showing against the Predators, so Rittich will likely be waiting for his first start of the season.
- Speedster stalled?
Flames rookie Dillon Dube missed Wednesday’s practice due to a lower-body injury — and was spotted walking gingerly — but bench boss Bill Peters is optimistic that the fleet-of-foot forward will be good to go. If the 20-year-old Dube, who skated as the third-line centre in Nashville, needs a night off due to a sore wheel, Mark Jankowski would likely draw in.
- Helping hand
Flames superstar Johnny Gaudreau has racked up five assists — plus a goal, too — to lead his troupe to back-to-back victories. The left-wing whiz is a big reason Calgary’s top power-play unit is suddenly scorching. He has factored on all five of their man-advantage markers so far, including a highlight-reel setup on Elias Lindholm’s game-winner in Nashville.
- Gotta start somewhere
At 0-1-1, the Blues are still shooting for their first victory of the 2018-19 campaign. They’ve been idle since Saturday’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. There is good news for the crew from St. Loo — top-pairing defenceman Joel Edmundson should be back in the lineup after missing consecutive contests due to a groin injury.
- Faceoff ace
The Flames are off to a nice start at the faceoff dot, winning 52.1% of their showdowns so far, but they’ll be in tough Thursday. Blues centre Ryan O’Reilly won a league record 1,274 draws last season on behalf of the Buffalo Sabres and has a staggering 73.3% success rate in two games this fall.
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Elias Lindholm
Matthew Tkachuk – Mikael Backlund – Austin Czarnik
Sam Bennett – Dillon Dube – James Neal
Michael Frolik – Derek Ryan – Anthony Peluso
Mark Giordano – TJ Brodie
Noah Hanifin – Michael Stone
Juuso Valimaki – Rasmus Andersson
Patrick Maroon – Ryan O’Reilly – Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz – Brayden Schenn – David Perron
Alexander Steen – Tyler Bozak – Jordan Kyrou
Ivan Barbashev – Robert Thomas – Sammy Blais
Joel Edmundson – Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester – Colton Parayko
Jakub Jerabek – Robert Bortuzzo