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Calgary Flames goalie Karri Ramo stops a shot from the Winnipeg Jets at Scotiabank Saddledome.Candice Ward

Think of the Calgary Flames' goaltending carousel as a modern-day episode of To Tell The Truth, with Bob Hartley and his coaching staff acting as members of the panel. Throughout training camp, Hartley et al. asked hard questions of all three goaltending candidates and all gave convincing answers through their respective performances.

Any one of Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo or Joni Ortio could have been given the opening-night start, but Hartley opted to go with Ramo, the man who finished the year in goal for the Flames during their second-round playoff loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

Hartley's strategy last year was to play a goalie until he lost and the head coach indicated that until the crowded crease gets resolved in Calgary, that's how it'll go in the early part of 2015-16, too.

The only real surprise in a predictable training camp was the hand injury to T.J. Brodie that opened up a roster spot on the blue line for rookie defenceman Brett Kulak, who has one previous NHL game on his résumé.

Two veteran forwards, Mason Raymond and Paul Byron, were waived; and defenceman Ryan Wilson was released from his player tryout contract. The Flames went into camp with a largely set lineup and little that happened in the past three weeks changed anything.

Dougie Hamilton on defence and Michael Frolik up front enhance a lineup that made the playoffs last season for the first time in six years and is now trying to build on that success. The Flames had one of the top scoring lines in the league last year, with Sean Monahan centring Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler.

They gobbled up most of the key power-play minutes and combined for 202 points.

With all the attention paid to Gaudreau and rookie Sam Bennett, Monahan continues to quietly fly under the radar, though the team made him an assistant captain for the coming year, a decision Hartley never takes lightly. Monahan is a rising star in the league who, according to Hartley, is starting to find his leadership voice.

"Leadership isn't about age," Hartley said, "it's about responsibility. Sean will never be the most vocal guy, but last year, Marty [assistant coach Gélinas] and I were looking at each other on the bench and said, 'That really came out of Monny?' But it's good. We challenged him with this, but we think he's ready to take the next step."

Calgary plays an aggressive, exhausting style that puts pressure on opposing teams with its defencemen pushing deep into the offensive zone, trying to create turnovers. It was no coincidence that four of the Flames' top scorers last year were defencemen – and that's before Hamilton brought his 42 points over from Boston.

"These guys work very hard and they've got a young talented team, with very good Ds," Frolik said. "Every team in the NHL is hard to play against, but last year they took the next step and with me and Hamilton, they will be looking to do more."

Frolik was a strategic free-agent acquisition by Calgary, a versatile player who can play up and down a lineup. More than anything else, his overall professionalism intrigued the Flames, someone who can bring a steadying presence to a collection of forwards that is still years away from reaching its prime.

The analytics community was not in love with the Flames last year, a team that finished 28th in possession stats and seemed perpetually poised to fall out of the playoff race.

But things just kept going their way, despite the odds. They were first in overtime wins, with nine; second in third-period goal differential (an eye-popping plus-31), third in wins when trailing going into the third period (10); and fifth in point percentage when leading after two periods (.923, 24-1-1), according to league stats.

Their 1,557 blocked shots established a single-season NHL record – all of which will be a hard act to follow or duplicate.

Luckily, they know that, too.

"On paper is one thing," captain Mark Giordano said, "but we have to produce and we know that. The expectation internally is the same. We think we're good enough to get into the playoffs – and hopefully, make some noise."