It’s no secret that the Flames top line is carrying the team right now. What Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Micheal Ferland have been doing recently has been truly amazing, but it wasn’t always this easy. Last year Gaudreau and Monahan struggled for parts of the season and Micheal Ferland was searching for where he fit in on this Flames team. Towards the end of 2016-17 however, things started to click and it’s been smooth sailing ever since.
31. 22. 12. Those aren’t uniform numbers, those are the point totals of the Flames top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Micheal Ferland. That trio has 65 points on the young season and they don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. As this line goes, so go the Flames and it must be a weight lifted off of Glen Gulutzan’s shoulders knowing he has a top line that is producing consistently. Just look at the ice time from Monday’s 4-1 win at Washington:
Gaudreau: 18:03 (5:57 PP)
Monahan: 21:20 (5:57 PP, 1:50 PK)
Ferland: 16:51 (4:59 PP)
How well have they played? Well they aren’t Schenn, Schwartz and Tarasenko, but they certainly are one of the hottest lines going right now in the NHL. Take a look.
Gaudreau now has points in 10 straight games after a goal and an assist against the Capitals. That two points also gave him his 5th straight multi point game. He has 31 points in 19 games, on pace for around a 104 point season if he keeps up this torrid pace. Is that likely, probably not, but Gaudreau doesn’t appear to be ready to stop. Remember last year when the cries were “Gaudreau doesn’t shoot enough”? Well put that to bed. He’s third on the Flames in SOG (60) with only Dougie Hamilton and his pal Sean Monahan ahead of him. With that said, Johnny Gaudreau’s shot quality is much better than that of Hamilton. Another area where he’s excelling is on Special Teams. Gaudreau has 9 PPA on the season (4th in the NHL in PPP w/12) and his defence is light years of where it’s been in years past. Gaudreau’s offence put the league on notice when he arrived and if he continues to grow as a two way player the Flames have something even more special than they already have. Just how good has he been this season? At this point last year Gaudreau had 11 points. He has 10 goals already this year. He had 44 shots at this time last season as well, so he’s 16 ahead of where he was in 2016-17. It’s safe to say, barring unforeseen circumstances, his 61 point total from last season will easily be surpassed and his career high of 78 (30G 48A) is very much in jeopardy.
Monahan arrived before Johnny Gaudreau, but since they’ve been on the Flames together, they’ve been virtually inseparable. Monahan has been nothing if not a consistent point producer for the Flames. Not the play maker that Gaudreau is, Monahan doesn’t miss often and that’s his major value to this line. Goals aren’t always meant to be silky and pretty, sometimes they need to be ugly and those are the goals Monahan scores. He’s most comfortable either in front of the net or 10 feet or so out. He battles out front and if a rebound is loose, he’s the first on scene. Monahan has 22 points right now, 12 goals and 10 assists and they’ve come in bunches lately. His last 4 goals have all been PPG and 3 came in the second period of the Flames 5-4 OT win over Philadelphia on Saturday. Six of Sean Monahan’s goals are of the special teams variety and his 61 SOG are one better than his line mate. Mony has a point in 8 of his last 10 games and 7 goals over that time span. Last season was an up and down year as the young centre found himself with only 8 points at this juncture in the season and an 11 game run where he didn’t find the back of the net. The difference with Monahan this year could be that he is healthy. He had a back injury last year that kept him out of the WCOH and you never know if that affected his play early on. He’s currently on pace to be a little over a point a game player and that would easily eclipse his career best of 63 points back in 2015-16.
There can’t be anyone happier to be playing with Gaudreau and Monahan than Micheal Ferland and he’s 100% earned his spot on the top line. Ferland initally got placed on the top line last season and it had mixed results early on. Just before the NHL Trade Deadline he started to heat up and he found himself anchored to the Flames two stars. This season Micheal Ferland has shown what everyone thought he had, but was waiting to see: he can skate, he can shoot and he can create his own offence. No longer is Ferland the guy on the top line who can occasionally score and provide muscle to protect Gaudreau. He’s a legit scoring threat when the puck is on his stick and with he AND Monahan camping out front, Calgary has 2 big bodies to set screens and put the puck in the net. Ferland’s 12 points puts him 6th on the team in points, but he’s 3rd in goals with 8. The rugged winger had a 5 game goal scoring streak snapped in the Flames 5-4 OT win in Philly on Saturday, but he still picked up an assist. That helper gave Micheal Ferland points in 8 of his last 9 games. The real proof that he’s made the jump is Glen Gultzan has put him out of the PP with Monahan and Gaudreau. Ferly had been dropped in favor of a mix of wingers early in the season when it was 5 on 4, but not anymore. And there’s good reason. 3 of them. Ferland is second on the Flames in PPG. He’s also cut down on trips to the penalty box. He’s only collected 7 PIM so far and being on the ice more has lead to better play. His best season as a pro was 2016-17 where he had 15 goals and 10 assists. There’s no way he doesn’t obliterate that this season.
The success of this trio has allowed Calgary’s 3M Line to lighten it’s load a bit. Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik and Matthew Tkachuk combined last season for 145 points, currently they are at 34. Gaudreau, Monahan and Ferland’s success has to be a welcome reprieve for the Flames 2nd best line as they don’t need to shoulder the bulk of the scoring as they did last year. What numbers will they finish with? That’s all a guessing game, but if these three keep playing the way they are, Calgary fans and the league are in for quite a show.