How did the Flames fare in Thursday’s World Cup prelims?

(Jean-Yves Ahern / USA Today Sports)

For the first time since June 12, there was somewhat meaningful hockey to watch today. Of course, World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament games are a far cry from the Stanley Cup Finals, but you gotta take what you can get. For the first time since mid-April, Calgary Flames players played high-level organized hockey.

How did they do in the first day of exhibition World Cup of Hockey play?

FINLAND (Jyrki Jokipakka) beats SWEDEN (Mikael Backlund) 4-3 in overtime

The Finns beat Sweden in overtime in Helinski. We’re not saying it’s because Mikael Backlund was a healthy scratch, but the results speak for themselves. He’s played zero pre-tournament games and Sweden has lost all of their games (so far). That said, it was a back-and-forth game and pretty fun to watch.

Jokipakka played on Finland’s second pairing, primarily with Sami Vatanen. He played 17:18, had two hits, a shot on goal, and was -1.

RUSSIA beats CZECH REPUBLIC (Michael Frolik & Jakub Nakladal) 4-3

Russia looks good. They led for the majority of the game and once they got their confidence, they seemed to toy with the Czechs – though the Czechs battled back late and tried to make a game of it.

Nakladal played 23:49, with a nice mix of power-play and penalty-kill time. The coach seems to love him. He was even with a shot on goal. Frolik played 16:24, also mixing power-play and penalty-kill work in there, and had four shots and was even.

Nakladal was effective, as he usually is. Sign him, Brad.

NORTH AMERICA (Johnny Gaudreau) beats EUROPE 4-0

Everyone’s been excited about the concept of Team North America, the rag-tag bunch of speedy, talented millennials. They trounced Europe. Granted, Europe is full of decent-ish players from non-hockey power countries.

Gaudreau? He had a good game. He played 16:45, primarily at even-strength, and had a goal, an assist, three shots and was +1. All-told, his line with Jack Eichel and Brandon Saad was pretty good and consistently dangerous. As you’d expect given the players involved, they got a lot of offensive zone starts, but they made the most of it.

Gaudreau looked in mid-season form. In September. Sign him, Brad.

Up Next

All three Flames-related teams play again on the weekend.

On Saturday: the Czechs rematch with Russia at 8:30am MT (Sportsnet 360) and Finland faces Sweden again at 10am MT (Sportsnet One). Maybe Backlund will play.

On Sunday: North America rematches with Europe at 4pm MT (Sportsnet).

Sign Nakladal and Gaudreau, Brad.

    • McRib

      I actually freaking love those uniforms as they remind me of a modern version of the old Campbell/Wales Conference All-Star Games Jerseys (I am in my 20s so I am biased to trying a newer style). Anyway even if you don’t like them I think they are better than what we have been getting lately in terms of All Star game jerseys, Haha. Anyway I hope this Team NA wins the entire tournament, as the NHL is about speed and skill the despite fact old guard GMs are still trying to tell us that “veteran character” and “grit” are still tangible skills.

  • MontanaMan

    The NA squad had speed to burn and their forecheck was relentless. Having said that, the game against Europe looked like an all star game with very little intensity and no contact. Interesting but not terribly entertaining.

    • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

      I think as this tournament goes you will see the intensity pick up ,after all it was an exhibition game.
      If team NA gets on a roll in this tournament your are going to see the other teams crank it up a notch. You think Team Europe is going to be happy about getting skated into the ice by Team NA?

      By the way , thank God for the internet while I sit here in the beautiful Dominican Republic, getting my hockey fix.

  • Burnward

    (He’ll sign him Ryan, just not going to bend over to do so.)

    Meh. Ragtag uninterested Europe team. Like getting excited over scoring scrimmage goals.

    Johnny looked great though.

  • McRib

    Jakub Nakladal looked fantastic yesterday, it is semi promising that he hasn’t signed with another team yet to think maybe the Flames have a handshake agreement under the table with him after they get Gaudreau signed, but every other team in the NHL just saw how good he looked. I just think he would be a perfect partner for Hamilton for the next couple years. How Engelland continues to be on this team and Nakladal is still trying to earn a deal is completing infuriating.

    Nakladal looked twice as good as Jyrki Jokipakka, who didn’t look bad by any means, but Nakladal was a big reason the Czechs almost came back in that game.

    • Brodano12

      Gio – Hamilton (offensively used pairing that can still shut down when needed).

      Brodie – Nakladal (defensively used pairing that can still score – think of Brodie’s passes and Nakladal’s slapshot)

      Wotherspoon – Jokipakka/Wideman (Sheltered pairing that can still give a reliable 12-15 minutes a night, and play PP/PK).

      Engelland (Great 7th dman, can fit in on any pairing and play the same game).

      Smid on LTIR.

      We may have to carry 8 dmen and 13 forwards, but an injury is likely to happen and this gives us great depth, especially since it makes both Engelland and Wideman expendable even if we are in a playoff race.