Calgary Flames: Finally back at it

Dec 9, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

After a ridiculous series of COVID-postponed games, here’s what you need to know in advance of tonight’s Calgary Flames game.

They took the tests.  They quarantined.  They tested some more.

Now, at last, fans of the Calgary Flames can watch the team emerge from the NHL’s COVID protocol and play the first ACTUAL NHL game since December 11th.  Going into the long-awaited tilt against Mark Giordano and the Seattle Kraken, here are some things to think about.

Matchup
Calgary Flames
15-7-6
Seattle Kraken
10-17-4
Thursday, December 30
Flames -1.54

First, the Flames should be playing with the majority of their roster intact.  The most notable exception, as announced today, is that backup goaltender Dan Vladar, as the final player in COVID protocol, will be a designated non-roster player.  Backup duties have been assigned to Dustin Wolf, just called up from the Stockton Heat.  This, for me, is an exciting development.  Wolf has made a lot of noise in the minors, collecting awards for the CHL’s Goalie of the Year, the WHL’s Goalie of the Year and USA Hockey’s Goalie of the Year.  This year in Stockton, he’s been a solid .940 SV% and 1.84 GAA.

Don’t get me wrong, I want NOTHING to happen to Jacob Markstrom.  But I’d love to get a look at how Wolf performs for the Calgary Flames at the NHL level.

In addition, Byron Froese has been added to the taxi squad for the game against the Kraken.  It has not yet been reported who else is on the list.  One can reasonably speculate that other Stockton standouts such as Jakob Pelletier, Connor Mackey, and Glenn Gawdin will be considered.

On the subject of the taxi squad, Head Coach Darryl Sutter had some choice words.  See the video below.

Finally, the Flames are favoured to win against the Kraken (see betting odds below).  And Flame For Thought has reported that the team’s early exposure to COVID and subsequent early exit from protocol may actually be good news. Irrespective, Sutter does have some well-founded concerns.  In his address to the media on Wednesday, Sutter called out the need for secondary scoring.

If you look at it, our biggest issue – we’re almost 30 games in – and we have guys with 0-4 goals. That’s not going to cut in the end. If you can find better balance … that could help us.

Hard to disagree.  Andrew Mangiapane’s emergence as a goal-scorer notwithstanding, the team needs more.

Still, I think I speak for most fans when I say that I’m looking forward to a big screen, a cold beer and an evening of Calgary Flames hockey.

Bet365 Betting Odds
  • Winner: Calgary Flames (1.54)
  • First to Score: Calgary Flames (1.62)
  • Goal Scorers, Anytime:
    • Matthew Tkachuk (2.60)
    • Elias Lindholm (2.60)
    • Andrew Mangiapane (2.50)
    • Johnny Gaudreau (3.00)