Calgary Flames: October Two Thousand and Eleven
Where: Opening night at the Scotiabank Saddledome
The Flames take the ice for the first time in a new season full of questions and hope. One season removed from falling totally off the Western Conference radar and into hockey oblivion, the Flames are looking to be re-born.
They are led onto the ice not by Miikka Kiprusoff, but by Leland Irving, their first round pick from 2006. Kipper was dealt in mid August back to San Jose, who faltered last season without the services of a reliable number one net minder. It will be strange without Kipper between the pipes, but the Flames received Joe Pavelski, Jason Demers, and a 2nd and 3rd round pick in 2012, which should help with the healing process. Irving, for his part, had his breakout season last year in Abbotsford and after a strong pre-season, he beat out 2nd year man Henrik Karlsson for the starting job. However, it’s assumed that they will enjoy a 60/40 ice time split through most of the season.
Up front, for the first time since 1996-97 season, the Flames will start a campaign without Jarome Iginla on their roster. In late July, Flames GM Jay Feaster dealt Iginla, along with a 3rd round pick in 2012, for top flight prospect Brayden Schenn, forward and former Calgary Hitmen Brandon Kozun, a 1st round pick in 2012 and a 2nd round pick in 2013. The city was heartbroken, as was Iginla during his tear filled press conference, but it was something that needed to be done in order to fully re-charge and re-invigorate this franchise.
Schenn will make his Flames debut tonight on the second line alongside Rene Bourque and Niklas Hagman. Backlund will center the top line with Tanguay and Pavelski, who gave up his natural position of center to play right wing on the top unit.
Due to their poor finish last season, the Flames were able to land a top tier prospect in 6’1” Jonathan Huberdeau out of the QMJHL. A big center, Huberdeau cracked the 90 point plateau last season with the Saint John Sea Dogs. Jonathan had a strong training camp and surprised a lot of people by cracking the line-up -- he will center the third line. Along with Huberdeau, the Flames also start Tim Erixon on defence. Erixon was the Flames 1st round pick in 2009, and will be on the second unit alongside veteran Robyn Regehr.
Newly named captain Mark Giordano will try and help lead this NEW look Flames team in a completely new direction. They may be lacking the big name on their roster like in years past but this Flames team is built for today’s game, which is something Calgary fans haven’t been able to say for many years.
They will endure some growing pains, but, in time, this team will grow into the steady force it used to be.