The Calgary Flames have a new look. With a new coach, a new set of goalies, and new contracts for Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, the Flames are hoping their offseason changes are enough to get them back to the postseason.
This season promises to be much more entertaining than last year, in which the Flames got the worst goaltending of any team in the league. Some games are naturally more entertaining than others though. Rivalries, former players, and milestone nights all create compelling storylines that – more often than not – make for interesting hockey games.
With that said, here are seven Flames games you’ll want to tune in for this season.
1. October 25 – Flames @ St. Louis Blues
Brian Elliott doesn’t have to wait long to face his old team. The Flames play the Blues at home on Saturday, and then again in St. Louis on Wednesday. This is the second of those two match-ups as Elliott returns to the city he played in for the previous five years.
The Blues are the only Western Conference team that Gaudreau has never scored against (besides the Flames of course) and he’ll have two chances early in the season to check them off the list.
The Flames play the Chicago Blackhawks the night before, so this will also be a test to see how the Flames hold up with no rest against a strong team.
2. November 6th – Flames @ Anaheim Ducks
The Flames have a rather embarrassing trend they need to get rid of. They haven’t won a game in Anaheim since April 25, 2006. That’s 25 straight losses in Anaheim.
It’s about time that trend came to an end, and the first opportunity for the Flames to win in Anaheim is on November 6. If they don’t get it here, they’ll have to wait until April for their only other chance this season.
3. November 28th – Flames @ New York Islanders
The Flames toughest stretch of the season may be from Nov. 20-28. It’s six games in nine days – all on the road – and it ends with a back-to-back with Philadelphia and New York.
The Islanders have won the last four meetings, and the Flames have only scored three goals total in those games. It’s another team Calgary needs to find a way to beat, and at the end of a long road trip – they’ll need to work harder than ever to do it.
4. January 14th – Flames @ Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers got the better of the Flames in the first two battles of Alberta, but things will be different midseason.
The Flames have come out to a slow start this season, probably due to a lack of chemistry. Gaudreau wasn’t at camp, neither was Kris Versteeg, who left his PTO in Edmonton to join Calgary right before the season started.
The Flames are 128-110-4 all-time against the Oilers. If they play to their potential, the next battle of Alberta should end differently than the first two.
5. February 7th – Flames @ Pittsburgh Penguins
Going up against the defending Stanley Cup champion is always a good test, and on Feb 7, the Flames get their first chance against the Penguins.
The Flames did well against Pittsburgh last season, winning both games and scoring nine goals. For a team that is hopeful to start contending soon, the Flames need to be able to beat the best the league has to offer.
6. March 21st – Flames @ Washington Capitals
From the defending Cup champs to the defending President’s Trophy champs, the Flames will visit the Capitals in March.
This will be Troy Brouwer’s first return to Washington since he was signed by the Flames in the offseason. Brouwer spent three seasons with the Capitals.
The Capitals are another on a short list of teams that Gaudreau has yet to score against (WSH, DET, NJ, TB, STL). He’s only 23, so it’s only a matter of time before every team is off that list.
7. March 29th – Flames vs Los Angeles Kings
If the Flames want to make the postseason, odds are they’ll need to beat out at least one of the California teams. With Jonathan Quick out long-term, the Kings could be the easiest of the three to beat.
Gaudreau will certainly help with that; he has more points against the Kings (11) than any other team in the NHL.
This game starts a run of six straight games against the California teams; three at home followed by three on the road. Those are the last six games of the season, and they could very well be the difference between a playoff spot and a ball in the draft lottery.