Though it's still early, the Calgary Flames are proving the naysayers wrong.
Promising rookie Sean Monahan is a big reason why.
The Flames try to build on an encouraging start in Sunday night's home opener against the Vancouver Canucks.
Picked by many to finish at the bottom of the Pacific Division, Calgary (1-0-1) has surprised in the early going. After picking up a point in Thursday's 5-4 shootout loss at Washington, the Flames won 4-3 at Columbus the following night.
"That was huge for us to get that early confidence in two tough buildings," T.J. Galiardi, who notched a goal and an assist against the Blue Jackets, told the team's official website. "We're feeling pretty good and we're ready for the home opener.
"Everyone's going to be pretty pumped up. It's no different than the first game in Washington, you've just got some more support. I don't think I'm nervous, I'm just more excited and happy it's finally here."
Flames fans are surely looking forward to getting their first glimpse at Monahan, who has two points in as many games. The 18-year-old center, taken No. 6 overall in this year's draft, scored his first NHL goal Friday.
"I didn't know what to expect. Once it went in, I was pretty happy," he said. "It was a great feeling and most importantly I'm happy that we won that game.
"It's one day at a time, one shot a time. I'm learning a lot and I feel like I'm getting better every day."
With longtime captain Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff no longer around, the Flames are finding new ways to take care of business.
"It's not very complicated," coach Bob Hartley said. "Our recipe right now (is) we're going to work, play with passion, guys are blocking shots, driving - we're a team now."
After falling 4-1 at San Jose on Thursday, Vancouver (1-1-0) bounced back Saturday with a 6-2 win over Edmonton. Jason Garrison and Daniel Sedin both had a goal and an assist and Henrik Sedin added three helpers.
"That's the way we want to play. That's the way we want to continue to play and we want to enforce that on other teams,'' said Canucks center Ryan Kesler, who scored in the second period. "We want to do that every night. We want to win that way.''
Roberto Luongo also came up big with 21 saves to help John Tortorella get his first win with Vancouver.
"That's one of the best games I've seen this team play in a long time,'' Luongo said. "It was 60 minutes. It was hard. We sustained pressure the whole game.''
Luongo is 24-9-3 with a 2.32 goals-against average and one shutout in his last 36 starts against the Flames. He is an even more impressive 5-1-1 with a 1.84 GAA in his last seven starts at Scotiabank Saddledome.
It's unclear if Calgary will turn to Karri Ramo or Joey MacDonald in net. Ramo stopped 35 of 39 shots against the Capitals and MacDonald made 29 saves Friday.
MacDonald is 1-1-0 with a 1.46 GAA against the Canucks, last facing them in 2009.
Daniel Sedin has 73 points (25 goals and 48 assists) in 71 career games versus Calgary, his most against any team. Henrik Sedin has notched 59 points over a 51-game stretch in the series, including eight during a four-game scoring streak.
The Canucks scored 18 goals in going 4-1-0 against the Flames last season.
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