Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24 weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

The Calgary Flames overcame a sluggish October and November last season to go 45-33-4 and claim a wild-card playoff berth, but were swept by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round.

Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Calgary Flames' 2016-17 season started slow and ended too quickly.

The Flames overcame a sluggish October and November to go 45-33-4 and claim a wild-card playoff berth, but were swiftly eliminated in four straight losses to the Anaheim Ducks in the first round.

Under second-year head coach Glen Gulutzan, the Flames are hoping for the opposite in 2017-18. They're already ahead of where they were a year ago in terms of systems knowledge and execution and are banking on a fast start.

Story continues below advertisement

Gulutzan had all hands on deck in training camp, which was not the case a year ago when top centre Sean Monahan was injured for much of camp and top scorer Johnny Gaudreau didn't sign a contract extension until the day before the season opener.

"There's a lot more cohesion," Gulutzan said. "You can tell the locker room is pretty tight already. I think we're very much at a different point than we were last year at this time."

The majority of Flames have a full season playing for Gulutzan and assistants Dave Cameron and Paul Jerrard under their belts.

"The guys who were here last year, we know the systems and exactly what is expected out of us," captain Mark Giordano said.

"The main thing for us is to get out of the gates with a strong start, but play the right way right from the start."

To climb the Pacific Division standings and go deeper into the postseason, Calgary will have to win the Battle of Alberta with the Edmonton Oilers and end their run of futility in Anaheim.

Calgary's season opener is Wednesday in Edmonton followed by the home opener on Saturday against Winnipeg.

Story continues below advertisement

The Flames haven't won a regular-season game in Anaheim's Honda Center since 2004, but they have a chance to jettison the curse three games into this season as the Ducks host the Flames on Monday.

While this season's team is largely the same, the Flames will have to adjust to a new goaltending tandem for a second straight year.

Mike Smith may be past his prime at the age of 35, but tending net behind a deep and mobile defence could be the rejuvenation of the Kingston native after six years of heavy lifting with the Arizona Coyotes.

His penchant for playing the puck combined with Calgary's skill on defence has the potential for faster breakouts and less time in the defensive zone, which in turn lightens Smith's shot load.

"I think we can game plan around it," Giordano said. "There's a lot of different areas in the game where we can use his ability to really help us

"The most obvious one is overtime where he can really help and really get the puck up. As forwards and defencemen, not having to go grab that puck from behind your net sometimes and be able to fan out, it creates a cleaner breakout."

Story continues below advertisement

Eddie Lack, 29, is Calgary's insurance policy in goal with 121 career NHL starts

The Flames are rock solid on defence, where Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, T.J. Brodie, Mike Stone and the newly acquired Travis Hamonic give Calgary an abundance of size, speed and skill in their top-five defence.

"There's so many mobile and stable defencemen on this team," Lack said.

There are some questions up front. Calgary needs winger Johnny Gaudreau and centre/winger Sam Bennett to recover from production dips last season. Gaudreau dropped from 30 goals to 18.

The 21-year-old Bennett, who sported a bushy beard in training camp, had 13 goals and 13 assists and was a rough minus-16 in his sophomore campaign.

The Flames have depth at centre with Monahan, two-way specialist Mikael Backlund, Bennett, Matt Stajan, Curtis Lazar and 23-year-old Mark Jankowski.

Story continues below advertisement

The summer's college free-agent prize Spencer Foo was assigned to the Calgary's American Hockey League affiliate in Stockton, Calif. Expect Foo to get a call-up from the parent club this season.

Off the ice, a public dispute over a replacement for the 34-year-old Saddledome has become civic election fodder.

Calgary Sports and Entertainment president Ken King and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi have traded subtle and not-so-subtle barbs since CSEC broke off negotiations with the city in September.

Each side has gone public with how much they think the other should pay for a new building projected to cost between $500 million and $555 million.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies