It’s been a busy, busy week in the world of the National Hockey League and your Calgary Flames. We had cuts, the beginning of the regular season and three Flames games. To catch you up on all the goings-on, here’s the latest edition of the Weekly Ignition.
On Thursday: Capitals beat Flames 5-4 in a shootout. David Jones, Lee Stempniak, Jiri Hudler and Lance Bouma scored, while Karri Ramo made 35 saves in the loss.
On Friday: Flames beat Blue Jackets 4-3. Sean Monahan, T.J. Galiardi, Jiri Hudler and Curtis Glencross scored, while Joey MacDonald made 29 saves in the win.
And on Sunday: Canucks beat Flames 5-4 in overtime. Mark Giordano, Mikael Backlund, Monahan and Jones scored, while MacDonald made 23 saves in the loss.
The Flames head into week two of the regular season with a 1-0-2 record, which is probably ahead of expectations, all things considered.
THE PRESS ROUND-UP
- Chris Peters over at the excellent United States of Hockey site looks at the Top 25 players in US college hockey. Shockingly, there are Flames prospects mentioned here and there.
- In a related bit, Wes Gilbertson at the Sun discusses a handful of Flames prospects that could make a mark this year.
- With the rebuild beginning, Scott Cruickshank at the Herald talked to Flames team architects John Weisbrod and Craig Conroy about how things are looking.
- Over at The Hockey Writers, I looked at some factors that could play a part in the Flames not being awful this year.
- Our Nations Overlord Kent Wilson did some work for the Herald, looking at what advanced stats say about the Flames heading into this year.
- The superb Steve MacFarlane stopped by these parts to take a look at Sean Monahan.
- And finally, I went to the season-opening press conference that featured Brian Burke and Jay Feaster.
A LOOK BACK
The Flames played three games, generally out-played the opposition, and took home four of six points. Seven Flames (Galiardi, Monahan, Stempniak, Backlund, Giordano, Jones, Hudler) are point-per-game or better. However, not everything is smiles and candy in Flames-land: the Flames are still not amazing at 5-on-5 goal differential (although this is skewed by playing three pretty good teams in Washington, Columbus and Vancouver). Either way, they’re still terrible at face-offs and they miss Matt Stajan badly in that respect. But let’s face it, both as analysts of the club and as people that follow the team, it’s very heartening that there’s this much buy-in this early on.
In the elsewheres of hockey, the Abbotsford Heat split a weekend series in Ohio against the Lake Erie Monsters. They won 5-2 and lost a nail-biter 3-2. Many players – notably Ben Hanowski and Max Reinhart – were great.
In junior hockey, my arbitrary Three Stars are Emile Poirier (6 points and 2 game-winning goals in 3 games), Coda Gordon (7 points in 2 games) and Morgan Klimchuk (3 points in 2 games). Honorable mention to Johnny Gaudreau, who had 2 points in a pre-season game against St. Francis Xavier University.
A LOOK AHEAD
The Flames host the fabled Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday (in an early 6pm start) and the New Jersey Devils on Friday (at the usual 7pm start-time). Then they’re off for four days. Compressed Olympic-year schedule? What compressed Olympic-year schedule?
The Heat open their home schedule on Friday and Saturday against Milwaukee (and you can listen to their games for free online at teamradio.ca). Alaska doesn’t play a regular season game until next week.
The WHL and QMJHL schedules continue onwards, so Flames prospects will be playing quite often. However, the NCAA schedule is finally getting going and next weekend will be the first major weekend of games. Michigan State (Matt Deblouw) plays a pre-season game on Wednesday, Colgate (Tim “Who?” Harrison) plays on Thursday, as does Boston College (Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold), while Providence College (Mark Jankowski, John Gilmour and Jon Gillies) plays Minnesota State on Friday and Saturday. Yale begins their defense of their national championship next weekend.
In other words, the light Flames schedule will provide some time to play attention to how the prospects are starting out.
SUM IT UP
Hockey’s back and the Calgary Flames have more points than anyone really expected them to have after three games. There’s a heavy schedule of junior and college hockey featuring Flames prospects coming up. The Flamesnation crew will likely have things to say about these and other topics in the near future.