Realistic Expectations: Mikael Backlund

Ryan Pike
October 12 2016 03:00PM

It's really easy to like Mikael Backlund as a hockey player.

The Calgary Flames drafted Backlund way back in 2007, and since then he's quietly become the gift that keeps on giving. He quietly developed into a reliable two-way player as a youngster, quickly adjusting to the North American pro game. Then he became a really good two-way player who could protect and elevate more limited players. More recently, he's added a bit of grit and offensive confidence – he scored 20 goals for the first time in his NHL career in 2015-16 – and become a fairly consistent difference-maker in his mid-20s.

What should we expect from Backlund this season?

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Realistic Expectations: Matthew Tkachuk

christian tiberi
October 12 2016 02:00PM

Well, it's finally Hockey Day. The Flames are heading north to Edmonton to remind the Oilers that their history is a flat circle. It's a new season, and there's plenty to be excited about.

For the Flames, the biggest story tonight and probably for the rest of the season will be Matthew Tkachuk. The sixth overall selection at the draft has turned many heads at the Young Stars classic and during the preseason. He'll make his big debut tonight.

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Realistic Expectations: Jyrki Jokipakka

October 12 2016 01:00PM

Lost in a lot of the discussion on the blueline is Jyrki Jokipakka, one of the pieces acquired in the Kris Russell deal with Dallas at the 2016 trade deadline. He's 25 - in the right age group - and that should put him in the discussion of players who should breathe optimism into the fanbase.

The biggest question in this is whether or not Jokipakka can produce results of a second pairing guy, or if he's destined for depth territory.

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FGD 1: A new era for the Battle of Alberta (8pm MT, SN)

Ryan Pike
October 12 2016 12:00PM

(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)

We love HOME games; have Liquor Depot deliver in under an hour. Click, pick, sit back and watch the game.

Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen, to the wall-to-wall coverage of the 2016-17 Calgary Flames season here at On behalf of everybody at the site, we're really excited to have you aboard for the next 82 games (and perhaps...more?) of hockey action. And as fate may have it, we have a pretty fun game to start the regular season off.

The Flames start the season off in style, hitting the road to scenic Edmonton, Alberta to take on their most storied rival, the Edmonton Oilers. In an added twist, tonight's contest will be the first official National Hockey League contest at the Oilers shiny new barn, Rogers Place. That means that a Flames victory tonight wouldn't just put a tick in the loss column for the Oilers, but would also forever sully the history of the expensive little bauble they've built in their downtown area.

The puck is expected to drop well after 8 p.m. MT, likely closer to 8:45,(as we presume the Oilers will open their barn with a great deal of pomp and circumstance) and you can check it out on Sportsnet's national feed (with Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson) or on Sportsnet 960 The Fan (with Derek Wills and Peter Loubardias)!

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Who plays with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan this season?

Ryan Pike
October 12 2016 10:00AM

(Candice Ward / USA Today Sports)

Now that the contractual mess is over with and the games are finally set to begin, we can finally address a burning question: who the heck lines up alongside Johnny Gaudreau and center Sean Monahan on the Flames' top line?

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