The 2022-23 season is five days and two games in, and the Calgary Flames have been pretty good and gotten two positive results. As we await the third game, against Vegas on Tuesday night, let’s check in with our pals who have questions in the mailbag!
So far, the first line has been… fine. They haven’t dazzled, they haven’t been terrible. They’ve been merely fine. But the key to them becoming better than fine probably just lies with giving them more game reps. If they were getting caved in, I’d suggest switching it up a bit. But since they’ve been respectable, but not overly impressive, that suggests a baseline of collective competence and that can be built upon going forward.
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We have no timelines for Oliver Kylington’s return, and just hope he’s doing well and working through whatever he’s working through.
That said, right now the Flames have a pretty solid three defensive pairings, with Noah Hanifin with Rasmus Andersson, MacKenzie Weegar with Chris Tanev, and Michael Stone with Nikita Zadorov. Where Kylington fits in will probably be something that’s dependent on how the team is playing at the time, and I imagine in the week or two prior to him becoming active again he’ll be skating with the team extensively and tried out at various spots during skates and practices. Kylington’s smarts, skating and ability to move the puck could slot him in well with just about any of the existing blueliners. It’ll be a challenge to work him in if everybody keeps playing well, but that’s a good problem for the Flames to have to deal with.
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So far, so good. I feel a little bad for Adam Ruzicka because the easiest path for him to get into the lineup is if somebody in the bottom six struggles mightily, but so far, so good. The fourth line was given a ton of offensive zone starts and played the Oilers’ lesser lights on Saturday… and they took advantage of these situations and had a very strong game (including a goal). It’s a small sample size, but there are a lot of positives so far.
A top six winger probably costs a top four blueliner, and probably takes up the same amount of cap space. Because of that, I would imagine the Flames aren’t in any hurry to make a move, at least until they figure out where Oliver Kylington slots in. Plus, they need to figure out how their existing forward pieces fit together before figuring out what they need. I would imagine we don’t see anything substantial happen until December at the earliest.
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If Darryl Sutter sticks to his plan of giving Dan Vladar 26 starts – one per week – that would put Jacob Markstrom at 56 starts this season. Both of those numbers feel about the right level of activity for each player.
The scheduling behind officiating assignments is really complex and has a lot of things to juggle, but I wish the league could have the same crew of referees work the entire season series – they aim to do this in the playoffs, with the same handful of referees and linesmen working the same series together. The travel and logistics would be an absolute hassle, which is probably why it doesn’t happen, but if the aim is consistency, having the same players and officials get a few games together would be helpful.
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I really like Michael Stone in his current role. He is probably the next blueliner up for power play duty, though; he stepped in for Rasmus Andersson for a shift on Saturday in Edmonton.
It’s a regularly scheduled meeting announced at the end of the last meeting in early September, but you don’t organize meetings if there aren’t any updates to provide. That said, expect a very brief public update and then the meeting to go in-camera as the committee discusses how administration and the third party have been nudging things along.
We won’t hear very much publicly until there’s something substantial to bring forward to City Council.
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