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MHH Previews the Lesser 29: Calgary

Welcome to a new installment where we will preview each of the other NHL teams who simply make up the bulk of the league the Avalanche play in. Today, we look at the Calgary Flames.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Their head coach: Glen Gulutzan, which sounds a bit like an item you’d find in an Italian bakery. He is entering Calgary for his first season on the job after the Flames somewhat understandingly cut ties with our old friend Bob Hartley. As far as Gulutzan, he’s in his mid-40s giving an NHL head coaching job a try for the second time. He was with the Stars in the early part of the decade where he spent two seasons, missing the playoffs both times. After that and before this hiring, he was an assistant with the Canucks.

Their captain: Mark Giordano. A solid defenseman who’s spent all of his time in the NHL with the Flames. It’s not like he’s done anything spectacular. His last playoff game in this league was all the way back in 2007, as he was on injured reserve when the Flames made it to the 2nd round in the 2015 playoffs. Giordano’s been praised as being one of the best leaders in hockey, and Bob Hartley offered a decent quotable about his leadership that I’m going to insert here since I don’t know what else to say about him: “You can say everything you want, but if you're not practicing what you preach, then I'm not sure your guys are going to buy in as much as you want them to. But (Giordano) works a lot harder than he preaches. He's vocal and says all the right things in the room, but where he really shows he's a good leader on the ice, which is what guys need.”

Their 15-16 season: A far cry from the season before, where as I mentioned, they made it to the 2nd round before the Ducks waxed them to end Calgary’s Cinderella story that year. Before the playoff season, expectations for the Flames were lousy. I picked them to be the worst team in hockey that year, and they made a solid playoff push. Then last season, after a very successful summer highlighted by the acquisition of Dougie Hamilton, expectations for the Flames increased significantly, and they played like crud. They were never in the mix for a wildcard spot or an automatic berth out of the Pacific, and entered the offseason with a faint cry you could hear in the distance.

How did they do against the Avs? Not particularly well. Colorado took 2 of the 3 games, one in each team’s arena by scores of 6-3 in Denver and a 4-3 shootout decision in Calgary. The game in between those was at Pepsi Center and one of those customary 15-16 Avalanche games that was completely unwatchable because it just looked like the Avs decided to take that night off. That was a 4-0 Flames win.

When do they play the Avs this season? In Denver on December 27th, and at Calgary on January 4th and March 27th.

Will they be good? You can make a good argument both ways here on this one. They added goaltender Brian Elliott from the Blues for just a 2nd round pick, which I think may have been the best steal in a trade this offseason that didn’t involve Taylor Hall. That should sure up their goaltending, which was always nervous for Flames fans beforehand with Karri Romo and Jonas Hiller. Both of them are gone, and Chad Johnson, a serviceable goalie who was in Buffalo last season, enters the Flames’ crease as well. Another former Blue who is now in red and black is Troy Brouwer, adding to lots of pieces to like in south Alberta. They also have Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Dennis Wideman, giving the Flames a lot of high-end talent. The question will be if they have the depth, especially if one or two of those guys gets injured. This figures to be a team that will challenge for the playoffs, but the California teams all have very deep teams, and we know the wildcard spots belong to whoever finishes 4th and 5th in the Central (hockey unwritten rule #27).

3 Questions with their SB Nation blog, Matchsticks and Gasoline: Sadly, like yesterday’s edition with the Canucks, I did not hear anything back from MAG regarding my questions about the Flames. Therefore, this segment is once again absent.