It's been a tough start to the season for Sean Monahan. Nothing he has done has come off for him so far. By no means is he the only one, but his issues have been highlighted so much by the fact Johnny Gaudreau has started on a tear.
There's no doubting that he's an elite center, or will become one. But he's dying out on the ice right now. A good coach would change things up for him. give him new partners, try to get his game going again.
Like I said though, he's not the only one. There's very few players who are earning their spots right now. The entire team could use a shake-up. Allow me to play coach for a few minutes, and think of some new combinations that may help the entire team, but particularly Monahan.
Johnny Gaudreau - Sam Bennett - Jiri Hudler
Gaudreau and Hudler were already on a roll before being paired with Monahan last season. Perhaps a new center could give Hudler a spark and Gaudreau a new body to aim for. Enter 19-year-old Samuel Bennett. The Flames expect him to be a top-level center, just as Monahan is, or has certainly been treated. He was thrown in at the deep end, so why not give Bennett the same treatment?
This line could improve Bennett's game, giving him the "Hudler" effect which Gaudreau benefited from last year, while Gaudreau shows no sign of regressing, and is easily the best offensive talent on the side.
Mason Raymond - Sean Monahan - Michael Frolik
I know Mason Raymond hasn't even earned his spot on the team, never mind the second line, but he might be just the partner Monahan needs. Frolik has been doing such a good job with Mikael Backlund on the shutdown, but when they create chances, there's not been a pure goalscorer there to get the puck on net, or at least threaten. For all Lance Bouma's failings, he's not afraid of driving the puck towards goal. Micheal Ferland, on his day, can do the same. Joe Colborne isn't the same kind of player.
Raymond, while not setting the world on fire in Calgary, has a track record of scoring goals. If he could find the right complement, he may kick off and at least attempt to convert the chances Frolik manages to create from nothing.
The second line would be the ideal place for Monahan right now. You don't want to demote him too far down the lineup so as to dishearten him, but the top line just isn't working right now, and it needs a change. Maybe if some of the weight was taken off his shoulders, he might be able to play his natural game a bit more.
Derek Grant - Mikael Backlund - Josh Jooris
Grant has been a pleasant surprise in the two games since his call up - he's not setting the world on fire by any stretch, but he doesn't look out of place. Josh Jooris is a superb PK/shutdown man who can also drive play when he gets the opportunity. Add in Mickis, who could play on any of the four lines and not look out of place, and you have an effective shutdown line which could also drive play out of their own zone.
Joe Colborne - Matt Stajan - David Jones
If David Jones had a bit more energy about him, he could probably be the second or third line wing. As it is, he has a good understanding with Stajan, who is the exact man who should be the fourth line center. You could interchange Brandon Bollig and Joe Colborne here because Bob Hartley is never going to give up on either for some reason which is yet to be determined. I'd rather someone like Garnet Hathaway get a shot but while Hartley keeps playing his favourites, he doesn't stand a chance.
Will things change? Probably not. Hartley goes with what he knows, regardless of how that affects performances. But this wasn't meant to be a Hartley-bash. It was to address Sean Monahan.
Monahan is suffering badly out there, through a lack of form more than anything else. He's a good player, he hasn't become bad over the summer, but he's struggling. Surely you should put your best players in a position to succeed? Taking the strain of being the go-to guy away from him may be all he needs to let loose and become the player we've come to know over the past two years.
Any ideas? Drop them in the comments below.