The Calgary Flames have had a long summer. After making it all the way to the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs to cap off a whirlwind season, the club came crashing back down to Earth and they’ve had a long time to ponder what went wrong.
It’s been 160 days since the Flames played an organized hockey game. Their road to potential redemption begins tonight at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton, British Columbia, as they suit up for the annual Young Stars Classic Tournament.
Their opponents to kick off the event? The scrappy Winnipeg Jets, who are also coming off a disappointing 2015-16 season that saw them miss the playoffs. For a view from the other side, wander over to JetsNation.ca!
The puck drops on the 2016-17 (pre-pre-)season at 5pm MT and you can catch the action streamed live on the Flames site (or listen on Sportsnet 960 The Fan).
Courtesy Pat Steinberg (via Twitter), tonight’s lines:
Tkachuk – Jankowski – Klimchuk
Mangiapane – Lomberg – Tuulola
Pollock – Dube – Carroll
Smith – Kravchenko – Phillips
(Doucet – Aagaard)
Culkin – Andersson
Kylington – Dyukov
Kanzig – Morrison
(There will be some extra bodies rotating in and out of groupings during the games, since the Flames brought 29 guys with them.)
Gillies and Parsons are between the pipes, presumably with Gillies starting. Last year in Penticton, Gillies started twice and had a .930 save percentage and 53 saves over the two games. There are high hopes for him this season, and he’s expected to go the distance tonight.
Lomberg had 9 shots in 2 games last year, while Klimchuk (2 goals) and Mangiapane (1 goal, 1 assist) were part of a four-way tie for the team scoring lead. Jankowski and Tkachuk are arguably the two shiniest new toys in the Flames entry-level system (and they’re on the same line), but also keep an eye out for #82 Eetu Tuulola, who had a good pre-season with Everett and was really impressive at development camp.
All of the forward lines look pretty interesting, with a nice mix of size, speed and skill. Heck, that fourth line has big person Smith with the speedy/small/skilled Kravchenko and Phillips. The defensive pairings are a bit more all over the place, but I’m sure they’ll mix them around a bit during the game as well.
Here are the project lines for Winnipeg, via their official site:
Connor – Lodge – Roslovic
Lemieux – De Leo – Fronk
Spacek – Harkins – Denham
Blomqvist – Gennaro – Stallard
Murphy – Green
Wilson – Kostalek
Stanley – Nogier
Berdin and Phillips are the goaltenders for the Jets in the tournament.
Jimmy Lodge and Michael Spacek are the highest-scoring returning players from last year’s tournament, while Kyle Connor tore up the NCAA’s Big 10 Conference last season with the University of Michigan. He put up 71 points in 38 games (roughly equivalent to a 53.6 NHLE), so keep an eye out for him and that entire top line.
WHEN LAST WE MET
At last year’s Young Stars Classic, the Flames and Jets each lost two of three games.
- Calgary beat Winnipeg in regulation, lost to Edmonton in regulation and to Vancouver in overtime.
- Winnipeg beat Edmonton in overtime, but lost to Vancouver and Calgary in regulation.
SUM IT UP
Meaningful hockey is still a month away, but for two teams that have been sitting on their behinds pondering last season for way too long, tonight is a first step towards redemption.
And hey, September hockey with prospects beats the heck out of whatever else we’d be watching otherwise.