The best starts to Calgary Flames seasons in franchise history
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike1 year ago
Friends, the Calgary Flames’ win on Tuesday over the Pittsburgh Penguins set a franchise record! The Flames reached five wins faster than they’ve ever reached it before, and tied a record from the Atlanta days for the fastest to 10 points in franchise history.
Let’s dive into how the current start compares to other strong performances from the past.
1978-79: the best (Atlanta) start ever
The second-last Atlanta Flames club were undefeated in their opening six games, earning 10 points with a record of 4-0-2. (The NHL didn’t play regular season overtime until 1983-84, so the two ties took 60 minutes.) This was part of a longer run to the start the season where they did not lose a game until the 13th game of the season, starting 10-0-2. Six different Flames scored at a point-per-game or higher pace – the ’70s were high-scoring, folks – with Tom Lysiak leading the way with 11 points in the first six games.
They were basically a .500 team the rest of the way after their incredible start, but they still finished 41-31-8 and made the playoffs with 90 points.
Five different 4-1-1 starts in Calgary
Since the relocation to Calgary in 1980, the Flames have gotten out to five distinct 4-1-1 starts and spotted themselves nine points in the opening six games of the season.
- 1988-89: Bolstered by a strong power play and led early on in scoring by Jiri Hrdina, these Flames got out to a strong start. They lost back-to-back games precisely once all season, captured the Presidents’ Trophy, and then beat Montreal in the Stanley Cup Final. A strong start set the tone.
- 1989-90: Rookie sensation Sergei Makarov rattled off 13 points in the opening six games and these Flames began their season with a ton of momentum. They turned into a fairly streaky bunch, though, rattling off three or four wins followed by three or four games without a win – they went nine games without a win (0-5-4) in November. They finished first in the Smythe Division, but lost to Los Angeles in the playoffs.
- 1993-94: Joe Nieuwendyk had six goals in six games, including two game-winners, driving the Flames to a strong start. The Flames were a bit hot and cold, but they were strong enough to win the Pacific Division for the second consecutive season. They lost to Vancouver in the post-season, though.
- 2001-02: The Flames had zero point-per-game players over their first six games, but timely goals – including a pair of game-winners from Craig Conroy – helped get them out to a strong start. This was part of a start where they won 13 of their first 19 games. Then things went much less well, with a few lengthy winless skids sinking their season. (They finished below .500.)
- 2009-10: Led by game-winners from… Staffan Kronwall, Brandon Prust and David Moss, these Flames got off to a good start despite relative slow performances from some of their key players. These Flames finished with 40 wins and just a tad above .500 points percentage-wise, but missed the post-season.
The lesson here from these previous hot starts: consistency. A strong first few games is great and helps your club bank early points, but the NHL season is a marathon, not a sprint.
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