On the whole, the 2015-16 campaign was unsuccessful for the Calgary Flames. Heck, general manager Brad Treliving categorized it as a failure in his year-end address to the media. But the 82-game journey had within it many ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys.
We’ve culled through our smudged notes and tear-stained gamesheets and found 10 moments – five peaks and five valleys – that arguably best represent the journey the club went through over the past seven months. They are presented in the order in which they occurred.
Be forewarned: since it wasn’t a great season, most of the “lows” are team-oriented and most of the “highs” are individual achievements.
THE LOWEST LOWS
Stumbling Out Of The Gate (October 7)
The Flames were decent but not spectacular during training camp, and all eyes were on the season-opening game at the Saddledome against the Vancouver Canucks. Instead of a statement game by way of a one-sided drubbing to start off a season with high expectations, the Flames stumbled and lost 5-1 to their most bitter rival. Looking back, it was a portent of doom.
Dale Weise Scores A Hat Trick (October 30)
October was bad for the Flames, but the cherry on top of the crappy month was their 6-2 loss at home to Montreal. Featuring former Flame Paul Byron scoring a breakaway short-handed goal (welp), the game was topped off with Dale Weise scoring a hat-trick… and then the Flames having to sit on their own bench while fans threw hats onto the ice in their own building.
The Kings Stay The Kings (December 31)
The NHL schedule is weird sometimes, but no weirder than the Flames not facing the Los Angeles Kings until December 31. After the Flames’ performance, may they should’ve been thankful they got that much of a reprieve. At the end of a really successful month of December, the Kings showed the Flames that they weren’t in their league by waltzing into their building and beating them handily. You could argue that the Flames never really fully recovered from that lesson.
The Good Goalie Gets Hurt (February 11)
The Flames’ wild 6-5 shootout win in San Jose can be seen as a positive, but it’s also the game where the team’s top goaltender Karri Ramo got run into and lost for the rest of the season. Considering that the team’s defense was a bit ugly this season, Ramo’s play from November to mid-February was a great stabilizing force; he never stole games, but he rarely gave them away. Following Ramo’s injury the Flames went 10-15-4 and slid entirely out of the playoff picture.
The Disney Curse Continues (March 30)
In their final game this season in Anaheim’s Honda Center, the Flames tied an NHL record for futility inside a single NHL building via an 8-3 drubbing by the Ducks. It was the 23rd consecutive loss for the Flames in Anaheim (0-18-5), dating back to early 2004.
THE HIGHEST HIGHS
Frolik gets a hatty (October 31)
October was a bad month for the Flames, featuring them losing the home-opener to Vancouver and getting thumped by Connor McDavid and the Oilers. But a night after their lowest point of the month, Michael Frolik showed why he was such a hot commodity last summer with his first career hat-trick… in Edmonton against the Oilers. With nine seconds to go. Revenge never tasted as sweet.
Beating Boston (December 4)
Storylines abounded as the Bruins made their first visit to the ‘Dome since Dougie Hamilton left Beantown for Cowtown. Could the Flames keep their winning ways going? How was Hamilton going to do? In a really entertaining, back-and-forth game, a late-game gaffe by Hamilton gave the Bruins a late lead but a late Jiri Hudler goal sent it to overtime (where Johnny Gaudreau capped a hat-trick to win it, assisted by the previously-maligned Hamilton). For one game, at least, the “Find a Way Flames” rode again.
Bennett scores four (January 13)
19-Year-Old Sam Bennett had a pretty good, albeit not “great,” first full NHL season. His crowning achievement was a four-goal outburst against the normally-stingy Florida Panthers, who lost in Calgary by a 6-0 score. It was arguably one of their best, most complete, games of the season.
Destroying St. Louis (March 14)
The other candidate for most complete game of the season came two months later against the terrifying St. Louis Blues in a 7-4 triumph. The Flames earned back some self-respect in this game, as they just went after the Blues and just kept after them. Frolik had a unique hat-trick (with two shorthanded goals and an empty netter) and the entire club played the type of poised, balanced game we rarely saw this season.
Backlund’s hatty (April 7)
After beginning their home schedule with an embarrassing loss to the Canucks, it was only fitting that the Flames capped off their home dates by returning the favour. For the second time the club erupted for seven goals, but three of them came off the stick of two-way stalwart Mikael Backlund – a great reward for a strong player that usually battled injuries. It was a great effort against a really listless Canucks team.