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The pros and cons of separating Gaudreau and Monahan

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By Travis Yost

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In preparation for the training camp opening, Salim Valji from TSN Calgary Flames asked fans a number of interesting questions on Twitter over the weekend, Boss Among them: What will happen to the pairing of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan?

Valji’s request for the duo is understandable The combination of Gaudreau and Monahan, who spent years together in the Calgary top 6, was a key to success, but the 2019-20 regular season stalled for this unit, which struggled to provoke a significant offense for most of the season

If we look at how Gaudreau and Monahan have developed over the years, we can see that they routinely translate territorial advantage into favorable goal differences that last season did not record the Gaudreau and Monahan tandem a significant decrease in their share of wefts, and accordingly their production dried up

It ended with Calgary’s award-winning goalscoring unit being surpassed by equal strength last season, an alarming sign for head coach Geoff Ward:

What’s strange about Gaudreau and Monahan’s divergence in performance last season is that the most likely culprit – a teammate change – doesn’t seem to be at play here

If you compare the regular seasons from 2018 to 2019, for example, you can see that Calgary’s top line generally featured the same third striker (Elias Lindholm) and a rotating cast of top 4 defenders in fact it is one the most stable year-over-year deployments you can find in the league

So what got Calgary’s top unit in trouble last season? I think the answer is many, but two things stand out: They really had no luck on the puck (an element that may be out of their control), and they spent too many shifts in the neutral or defensive zone (an element very much in their control ) relative to previous years

The loss of territorial advantage combined with adverse shooting percentages at either end of the ice meant a negative year-end goal difference:

A three percentage point decrease in the shot advantage corresponded to a three percentage point decrease in the expected goals and an eight percentage point decrease in the actual goal difference

Yes, Flames’ goalkeeping tandem was leaking, and the Calgary attackers suffered some serious slumps last season that you wouldn’t expect for long periods of time that the loss of puck dominance in 2019-20 is there however cause for concern

One of the elements that you know Ward has struggled with this off-season is alternate lineup options.It’s one thing to diagnose that Gaudreau and Monahan may have lost some degree of effectiveness for some reason.It’s another thing to work out another solution with the resources available

This is especially important to the Flames, an organization that has spent most of its salary cap on offsetting the defensive side of the ice Her big signings include Chris Tanev on the Blueline and Jacob Markstrom on the Net

To that end, other combinations need to be found internally.If we look at some of the common striker team-mates that Gaudreau has had in particular over the past three seasons, we come to two conclusive points: Gaudreau seems to be offended at every level, regardless of which combination of players he’s playing with, while Monahan seems to rely a little more on Gaudreau for strong on-ice results:

You can safely say that Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk – who generally took responsibility for driving the team’s second line – are a worthy bet together two quick and tenacious wingers who can improve their centrists’ play.But getting Tkachuk up in the line-up would mean getting Lindholm up, and I don’t see the net profit of such a move being worth it

If the underlying problem is with Monahan rather than Gaudreau, it is not clear that another center further down the list – say Mikael Backlund – would solve the problem, especially if part of the problem (something bad Shooting luck) solves itself without intervention

Ultimately, I think Ward will have to work with Gaudreau and Monahan to kick off the upcoming season, if only to test if last year’s performance combined was more statistical aberration than a growing trend, the coaching team has no player in the Starting blocks that ousted Monahan from his current role, and there are enough fleeting shots and saving percentages to make you believe they were out of luck last season

But what if we see signs again that the Flames’ top unit is having trouble pushing the puck into the offensive zone, maintaining pressure in the offensive zone and converting the scoring chances into goals? Then the Flames coaching team may be forced to make a change in advance

If I were a bettor, this change would mean Monahan was moving the line-up down a distance

TSN

World news – CA – Yost: The pros and cons of separating Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan – TSNca

Source: https://www.tsn.ca/yost-the-pros-and-cons-of-splitting-johnny-gaudreau-and-sean-monahan-1.1572307