Despite recent struggles, the Calgary Flames have been steady through the 2021-22 season. After inconsistent 2020-21 seasons, players like Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk have rebounded well. Jacob Markstrom has also been a positive. Sean Monahan is the only one who continues to struggle.
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Through Monahan’s first seven seasons in the league, he scored at least 22 goals in each, and he’s had north of 30 in three of those. Monahan appeared to have reached the NHL level with career highs of 34 goals and 82 assists in 2018-19. It hasn’t been the same since. has been in steady decline.
Monahan managed to find the back net 22 times in 2019-20. However, he scored just 48 points in 2019, his lowest total since his rookie year in 2013-14. He had just 10 goals and 28 point in 50 games last season. Many expected and hoped for that. Offseason hip surgery would get him back on the right track, but so far in 2021-22, the decline has continued, as he has just four goals and 16 points through the Flames’ first 33 games.
Monahan knows he needs to be better
It is evident that Monahan hasn’t been good enough for the Flames this year, as anyone who has watched them. To make matters even worse, his team hasn’t had much of any secondary scoring as of late, making his struggles that much more of a talking point amongst the fanbase. With the third-highest cap hit on the team at $6.375 million, he hasn’t been good enough, and It is something he is fully aware of.
“For me, I gotta start to bear down and look at the net more,” Monahan said. “I’ve been pulling up and not shooting as much as I normally do. Once you get that one in, you can start to follow it. You have to be patient, go around the net harder, and keep your head down. That’s when you’re going to generate a lot of looks.”
Accountability is the first step in fixing a problem. Monahan seems to be open to admitting that he needs to improve. Monahan mentions that he shoots less which is certainly a contributing factor to his problems.
He averaged 2.71 shots per match during his 2018-19 career season. In 33 games this season, he managed just 49 net shots, which is just below 1.50 shots per minute. He has failed to convert on 8.2 percent of his shots, which is the lowest percentage of his career. This continues a troubling downward trend.
Through Monahan’s first six seasons in the league, he was scoring on 15.11 percent of his shots, an excellent percentage that came as a result of having one of the game’s best releases. The highest percentage was 16.11 in 2018-19. It has fallen to 13.3, 10.2, and 8.2 in the subsequent seasons. This is an astonishing falloff for a player once thought to be as consistent as possible.
Can Monahan get it on the right track?
Many believe Monahan’s struggles over the past few seasons are a result of injuries, and there is certainly an argument to be made supporting that theory. Since the 2016-17 season, he’s undergone many proceduresThere were also two wrist operations, two hernia surgery, groin and hip surgeries. For a player just 27 years of age, this is quite a list. However, he is not the only one who has suffered from injury issues.
A lack of confidence is the more positive way to describe his struggles. This is what Flames management and fans should hope for. If that were the case, it would indicate that a few goals here and there might be all that is needed to get him back on track to the Monahan of yesteryear, something that would provide a tremendous boost to this team in the final stretch of the season, as well as into the playoffs. The trade would be much simpler, but it could also mean that it would be easier to keep him.
While it remains to be seen if he can make things right, Darryl Sutter, his head coach is doing all he can to make it happen. Though Monahan isn’t playing in the top-six as of late, he is still on the team’s top power-play unit, one that has been fairly successful this season. He may just need to put some markers on his man advantage to return to the consistent goal-scorer he was so many decades ago.
Colton Pankiw was a former Jr. A player and now writes about his experiences. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed journalist for the Calgary Flames and also writes features about other teams within the league. The following are his other writing contributions: Oil On Whyte, NHLtradetalk.com?, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a cohost on both Oilers Overtime Flames faceoff podcasts. You can reach him for any content information or interview requests. Twitter. Have a look at his works here.