On this week’s episode we celebrate the Flames excellent 4-3 road trip.  We look at the Josh Jooris callup and Johnny Gaudreau’s first goal of the year.  Plus, we break down how the Flames have improved their faceoffs.  We have a report on the farm team and our thoughts on the new TJ Brodie contract – and more.

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Facing Alexander Ovechkin, and the Washington Capitals, at home in Calgary on Hockey Night in Canada will always be an entertaining affair. The Capitals are once again a high scoring team, having four players averaging a point per game or higher. Included in that quartet is rookie Andre Burakovski, who is notable as he was selected with the pick right after Calgary, when they selected Emile Poirier in the 2013 draft. Like the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this week, the Flames opponents this evening lost to Edmonton in the game prior to visiting Calgary. The Capitals have also been the benefactor of excellent goaltending in the early part of this season. Braden Holtby has posted a 2.13 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage including a shutout in his five games. It will be interesting to see if Bob Hartley continues with the rotation in net after Jonas Hiller shut out the Hurricanes. Speaking of Hartley, when is he going to get a new contract?

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First Period

The game began with each team struggling to beat the other teams the defensive system much like we saw in the Tampa game. The play didn’t change much until Chris Terry took a holding the stick penalty just after the 11 minute mark. The Flames did not score on the ensuing power play, but they were able to pressure the Hurricanes for most of the penalty. It was this shift in momentum that eventually allowed Dennis Wideman to score on an innocent looking point shot with less than two minutes to go in the first period. This was the crack that opened the floodgates.

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The Flames will look to rebound tonight against the struggling Carolina Hurricanes, after losing their previous game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in overtime. Each of these teams was expected by most pundits to be in competition with one another in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes. The Hurricanes have had a leg up in that regard to start the season losing their three top players to injury. All of Jeff Skinner, Jordan and Eric Staal are expected to be out of the lineup this evening, with only Eric Staal expected to return anytime soon. This has weakened an already thin lineup up front, which now sports Chris Terry, Riley Nash, and Jiri Tlusty as their leading point scorers. The Hurricanes have lost all of their games thus far, only registering points in overtime twice, against the Sabres and Rangers. Calgary has been on the opposite path thus far, winning games against superior opponents and playing stellar defence. The Flames are on pace for slightly over 90 points this season if they are able to keep it up.

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The first two periods of the Flames Lightning game were two of the most boring periods of hockey I have ever watched. Neither team generated any real scoring chances in either period. Each team was hesitant to take any risks, which led to a mostly neutral zone type of game. At times, Tampa and Calgary controlled the play in the offensive zone but neither team could generate much outside of weak shots from the point and perimeter. The only player that looked good out there in the first two periods was Johnny Gaudreau. Mark Giordano fought JT Brown at the end of the first after delivering a hit.

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I am sure that all of the players and staff are happy to be home at last after enduring the second longest road trip of this season. The Flames are coming in blazing back to the dome hot off a very successful 4-2 trip. With the goalie rotation still in place, it likely means Karri Ramo will be facing his former club, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts are playing their second game in two nights, which means veteran backup goalie Evgeni Nabokov will likely be at the other end. The Lightning have split their western Canadian road trip thus far, collecting a win against Vancouver on Saturday while dropping one in regulation to the Oilers last night. The Flames are looking to have more consistent 60 minute efforts now that they have returned home. The opposition in every game on the trip controlled the play for significant portions of each game. Despite that, the Flames were able to collect four wins on the trip. It is unlikely that those kind of results will continue with any regularity if they cannot control the play more consistently themselves.

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A big step has been taken by the Flames organization to move forward in the rebuilding process, and that was to lock up one of the top young defensemen in the NHL for a long time. He will be here till the 2020-2021 season now under this contract. Signing the current point leader among defensemen in the NHL is always a good thing, and to get him locked up for such a reasonable amount is a win for both him and the Flames.

The first year of his new contract will see him make 3.9 million, 0.1 less than Giordano. The rest of the years will be the same amount dollar wise at 4.8375. The deal includes a limited no trade clause, which won’t kick in till he’s in his first UFA year. That’s two years from now, and it isn’t possible for a player to receive a NTC for years where he’s an RFA. That’s how Carter was able to be dealt from Philly even though he had just signed a long term contract with a NTC.

 

This week in Adirondack started in much the same way as last week. Rockford was all over the Addy Flames, and Thessien surrendered a few goals that he would’ve liked to have back. He’s a bit of a bizarre goalie as he made some real good saves on difficult shots in tight, and yet allowed three goals from the point  without much if any screens on the shots. The Flames had a difficult time with puck possession in each of the first three games of the season. They played a back to back with the former Adirondack team, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Each of the games was a penalty filled physical affair. Sena Acolatse scored on a point shot on the PP in the first game, with David Wolf adding his first goal in his first North American game. They dropped the first game in overtime, but it should not have even made OT as Stevenson’s tying goal for Adirondack went through the side of the net, and some how they upheld it on review. In the second game, Ferland scored the opening goal on a good hustle play to get the puck off the goalie and score on him before he could get back in position fully. Granlund added a pair and the Flames won their first game of the year. Joni Ortio bounced back in his 4th game and looked more like the goalie we saw last year. He needs to continue to get better though if he wants to push for a job next year in Calgary. Also, Scott Laughton is a good player for the Flyers. He scored a pair in each game for the Phantoms. The Flames are 1-4 to star the year.

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First Period

The Jets started the game with a massive amount of pressure in the Flames end, nearly connecting a couple of times for a goal but they were unable to do so. Things settled down a bit after the initial flurry of chances, but the Flames took a hooking penalty courtesy of Joe Colborne. That penalty kill became the Lance Bouma show as he blocked several shots and effectively killed the penalty himself. Once the penalty ended, Colborne was sprung for a breakaway that Pavelec was able to stop with ease. Off an offensive zone face-off, Peluso was able to take a one timer that was initially called a goal on the ice, however it hit the crossbar and the post before going out, no goal. It wasn’t long after that that the Jets were able to solve Hiller, with Blake Wheeler making a nice cross crease pass to Mark Scheifele for the tap in. The Jets controlled the remainder of the period, with the Flames unable to get any control in the offensive zone with their only decent scoring chance being the Colborne breakaway.

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Finally, the last game of the road trip has arrived. After going 3-2-0 in their first five games on the road, the Calgary Flames will look to cap off a winning record on this trip with their first visit to Winnipeg of this season. Both of these teams have encountered difficulties scoring, with the Flames averaging 2.5 goals per game and the Jets only managing 1.75. The Jets have also been shut out twice in their four games played and tallied only a single goal against the Kings. The Flames are playing their fourth game in six days, while the Jets have only played once this past week. With the Flames playing so often recently, the injuries have begun to pile up. With both Deryk Engelland and David Jones already on the shelf, the last thing the Flames needed was another injury. Unfortunately, recent call up Josh Jooris suffered an upper body injury and he is doubtful for the game tonight. Lance Bouma was able to play against Columbus with a full face shield and he should be able to go again against the Jets. Johnny Gaudreau was a healthy scratch last game and I would expect him to draw back in in Jooris’ spot.

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