It is back! That’s right, with the NHL preseason getting under way, hockey season is here! With that, the Calgary Flames opened their preseason on Monday with a split squad double header against the Edmonton Oilers. So, two Games in two cities, at the same time. I have to admit this was difficult to follow, but dang was it sure fun. It is very important to remember that these are preseason games, so the results do not matter as much as the evaluation of players and of course shaking off the rust.
Game one was played in Calgary and it started with a bang when star center Sean Monahan scored a goal just 1:01 into the game. Great start, I love seeing those Flames shoot up in the Saddledome. The fast start was good for the Flames as it showed that the team is hungry this season. More important is that it showed that key player and top centermen, Sean Monahan, was prepared and ready to go to start this season. Monahan will be counted on a lot this year.
Now back to the game, the Flames would fall behind before the end of the 1st period as the game slowed a bit and looked very much like a preseason game. Much could be said for this game. The Oilers would get a few bounces their way and take a 4-2 lead into the 3rd. There were a couple bright spots in the 3rd. First was the play of T.J. Brodie, who at the 4:32 mark of the period, scored a power play goal. Second was rookie center Mark Jankowski‘s play. Showing great skill and poise he is proving that he has what it takes to play in the NHL. The highlight for Jankowski was a short-handed goal with just under a minute to go in the 3rd.
Four goals for the Flames, was one short, as they lost the game 5-4. This game showed there is plenty to work on and some rust to shake off. The Flames used goaltenders Mike Smith and Jon Gillies in this game. Smith told NHL correspondent, “If I had a perfect game, I wouldn’t have anything to work on the next couple of weeks.” That pretty much sums it up for most of the players.
Game two from Edmonton featured a young, less experienced Flames team. There were not many noticeable names sent, but among them was Spencer Foo, Matt Stajan and Sam Bennett, while the Flames used Eddie Lack and David Rittich in goal. This game wasn’t kind to the Flames. Edmonton kept a good portion of its stars for this game and it showed as they rocked the Flames 5-2.
There were no big stand outs in this game for me and a lot of average play from the team. Sam Bennett seemed to gain some praise from Flames’ writers on Twitter, for his ability to create and find teammates. Penalties seem to be a major story in this one as the NHL is tightening up how things are called. Edmonton took advantage, going 3 for 12 and only taking 5 penalties themselves. Assistant Coach Dave Cameron spoke to Flames’ beat writer Wes Gilbertson, “It’s a new standard, and we have to adapt”. Needless to say, this game gave the Flames a lot to study at the new video study session.
So with that, two preseason games are in the books, and with mix reviews and emotions about how the games played out. One thing is for sure, no one is satisfied yet and everyone knows there is a long way to go and lots to work on. “Never Quit”, like the Flames’ motto from two seasons ago stated. Of course, wins would have been a lot more fun to write about, but losses definitely give the team more to work with. Hopefully the losses will provide the motivation for the next game.
Flames Head Coach Glen Gulutzan announced that the Flames will make cuts some time Tuesday, after he and his staff review the games and go over the players evaluations. It is expected they will trim the roster from the 68 players currently at camp down to about 46 or 47 players. Also worth noting, Flames forward and stand out rookie from last season Matthew Tkachuk sat out the preseason games for precautionary reason with a sore hip. He isn’t expected to miss any meaningful time. Next up for the Flames in the preseason are games Thursday against the Vancover Canucks and Friday against the Arizona Coyotes.