The beginning of honest-to-goodness, actual National Hockey League hockey is here!
Well, it’s pre-season hockey, but it’s NHL-sanctioned hockey with NHL officials with NHL rinks.
The 2015-16 pre-season begins today for the Calgary Flames, and they’re kicking it off in a way that’s become a bit of a tradition: a pair of split squad games with the Edmonton Oilers – one in Calgary at 7pm MT, one in Edmonton at 7pm MT.
The Calgary game is broadcast on Sportsnet 960 The Fan and has a video webcast on the Flames site, while the Flames site will also offer a broadcast of the game in Edmonton.
In both cities, the Flames have shuffled up their previous lines – Hartley noted yesterday that this was his plan, to try out different looks. Lines via our pal Pat Steinberg.
Gaudreau – Monahan – Hudler
Raymond – Bennett – Frolik
Ferland – Stajan – Poirier
Bollig – Shore – Smith
Giordano – Brodie
Wotherspoon – Hamilton
Kulak – Nakladal
Bouma – Backlund – Jones
Klimchuk – Granlund – Agostino
Van Brabant – Elson – Carroll
Mangiapane – Grant – Hathaway
Russell – Wideman
Wilson – Andersson
Kylington – Engelland
Some interesting defensive pairings here; I really like the sound of Wotherspoon and Hamilton, as it gives Wotherspoon the best chance to shine that he’ll probably get in the pre-season. Calgary sees three and a half NHL lines and a pretty stacked defense, while the crew heading to Edmonton is a bit more of an AHL group, albeit with a pretty decent (if young) defensive crew.
Lines for the other side, via the official Oilers website:
Pouliot – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Hendricks – Letestu – Korpikoski
Slepyshev – Yakimov – Klinkhammer
McRae – Khaira – Christoffer
Klefbom – Schultz
Reinhart – Gryba
Nurse – LaLeggia
Hall – McDavid – Purcell
Draisaitl – Lander – Yakupov
Hamilton – Miller – Pitlick
Gazdic – Winquist – Ford
Sekera – Fayne
Ference – Nikitin
Davidson or Hunt – Oesterle
Obviously, a bit more star-studded line-up in Edmonton than in Calgary. That’s keeping with tradition. But man, some of these defensive pairings look rough.
The Flames and Oilers have done split-squad openers in each of the past two seasons, and split them all. Here’s some recent split-squad history.
- 2014: Edmonton wins 3-1 at home, Calgary wins 1-0 at home
- 2013: Edmonton wins 3-2 in Calgary, Calgary wins 6-5 (OT) in Edmonton
- 2011: Flames split pair of games with Vancouver.
- 2010: Flames win both parts of a split-squad pairing with Vancouver.
SUM IT UP
It’s the pre-season! We get a chance to see Flames hockey, with the team playing live-fire games against actual hockey teams rather than intersquad scrimmages. The intensity will be ratcheted up.
But don’t fall to pieces about wins and losses. It’s the process that matters most over the next couple weeks.
But some wins over Edmonton sure would be nice.