One shouldn't be surprised if Monahan is a central figure again on Thursday. After all, he's made a habit of it so far in his young career. With his eighth game-winning goal against Arizona, Monahan became just the fifth player in NHL history to record eight or more game-winning goals in a season before the age of 21. The others: Wayne Gretzky (1981-82), Pierre Turgeon (1989-90), Eric Lindros (1993-94) and Sergei Samsonov (1998-99).
"This kid is clutch, it's just unbelievable. The poise that he's showing. There's never a panic move in his game," said Flames coach Bob Hartley. "I don't know if he has nerves of steel or he has no nerves. His hockey IQ, his vision of the game is second to none."
What remains to be seen is will the overall lack of big-game experience in the NHL hurt the Flames or help a club, which all season has continued to defy what's supposed to happen as if they simply don't know any better.
Russell says he's looking forward to the showdown with the Kings, who Calgary has beaten three out of four times this season.
"You draw from all the experiences you've had but at the same time, it's going to be a different game but it's going to be exciting and it should be a lot of fun."
"Definitely helps to have experience in the dressing room," Hiller said. "If it comes down to those games, to have that extra calmness, to know that you've been through all those things before."
When it comes to big, pressure-filled games, the Kings and coach Darryl Sutter hold the edge in that department and significantly.
Recent Related Flames Reading
- April 6: Elimination Day No More - Around Calgary, the date April 6 carries a stigma. It was on this day five years ago that Calgary was officially eliminated from the 2010 playoff race. The Flames were also eliminated on April 6 in 2011. However, it's a whole different situation this year as Calgary is actually in a playoff spot and not chasing a spot with six days to go.
- 20 Compelling Reasons Why Sam Bennett Should Join Calgary Right Now - It was a fascinating situation and before Brad Treliving made his decision, I made mine by coming up with several very good reasons why bringing Sam Bennett to Calgary made the most sense.
- Eight From 80 Feet: Hudler No. 1 in the NHL, Bouma Better Than Crosby and More - A bunch of interesting topics this week as I dig into Jiri Hudler's perch atop the NHL's even-scoring leaders. I also look at Bouma's success at even-strength -- more goals that Crosby. Other topics include Flames tie-breaker updates and a list of highest point totals to ever miss the playoffs.
- Flames Improbable Playoff Chase Comes Down to the Wire - So close. So damn close. So tantalizingly, excruciatingly, mouth-wateringly close. With two weeks to go in the season, the Flames are right there in the playoff race, within striking distance of a playoff spot. I try to put this crazy, improbable season and all they've accomplished into some perspective.
- 15 Signs You're a Flames Fan Caught up in the Playoff Race - This playful piece will hit close to home for Calgary fans, who have been riding the emotional roller coaster all season. It's a light-hearted look at 15 obvious signs that you have Flames playoff chase fever.