The playoff race is heating up and there are too many teams fighting for very limited spots. Here are key players for NHL teams in the playoff bubble in the West.
The two NHL divisions in the Western Conference are extremely different. The Central Division has three clear-cut playoff teams (St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, and Dallas Stars) and it leaves the final four teams scrambling for a wild card spot. In the Pacific, no one is safe.
In the Pacific, the Vancouver Canucks are only four points up on the Arizona Coyotes, who are fifth in the division. It’s a tight race and these teams will need their key players to step up in a big way. Here are the key players for each of the Western teams that are in the playoff bubble.
Calgary Flames – Sean Monahan
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With captain Mark Giordano out week-to-week with a hamstring injury, the responsibility of being the big leader in the locker room falls onto Sean Monahan‘s shoulders. As one of the longest-tenured Flames players and an assistant captain, the team will be looking towards him to lead them through a very intense and important final stretch of the season.
Monahan is having one of his worst offensive seasons of his career and as the top-line centre, it has a negative impact on the team’s production. The Flames went from being one of the top-scoring teams in the NHL last season to one of the worst this year. If Calgary wants to remain in the race, they will need their offensive players to wake up and it starts with Monahan.
His line with Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm are key for the Flames and if they can start producing again, it will make Cam Talbot and David Rittich‘s lives much easier. What made the Flames so dangerous is their depth of offensive killers and they’ve all been silent this year with Lindholm being the only player to eclipse 20 goals (22). Unless they can get it going again, it will be a tough year for Calgary.