CALGARY (660 NEWS) — The Calgary Flames final practice is in the books, and the team is off to Winnipeg for its 2021 season opener.
Thursday’s all-Canadian battle is the first of 56 games this abbreviated National Hockey League campaign, and if you ask Flames brass, big things are on the horizon.
“I look at our team, and I think we’ve got some depth,” general manager Brad Treliving told Sportsnet 960 The Fan before pausing and offering this next thought. “That’s got to get proven out, right? We can talk about everything, you can think, ‘we’ve got this or we’ve got that.’ Until we perform, we hope that’s a strength. But that means people have got to play at the highest level that they can.
“I think everybody on this team is here for one purpose, and that’s to have success and to win. However that gets accomplished, that’s the objective.
“When you look at our roster right now, we’ve got to sort out where a few people fit. At the end of the day, if things go the way we hope they’re going to go, that means that we’re going to have a deeper roster, and we’re going to have more people that are contributing.”
— Sportsnet 960 (@Sportsnet960) January 13, 2021
Treliving added several new faces during the off-season, including goaltender Jacob Markstrom, signing him to a six-year deal.
“Just an unbelievable competitive individual,” Treliving said of his new starter. “A real professional. [He] comes early, stays late, works on his game, tremendous teammate.
“There’s been a number of changes, and you’re always a little bit concerned how quickly people will assimilate in and chemistry and all those things. Jacob, from day one, just walks right in and is a great teammate. Guys are drawn to him. He’s a pro.”
Early playoff exits have cast a shadow over recent regular-season success for the Flames, and pundits believe that’s in the back of the minds of returning players like Johnny Gaudreau.
“I don’t know if the word bounce back is accurate, but I do feel that he’s going to have a season that he’ll be happy with. I think Flames fans will be happy with [it],” reporter Ryan Leslie recently told Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “It’s a better team. It’s a reduced schedule.
“And he’s surrounded by other talented players. It’s not just the burden on him. I would expect a better performance this year all-around from him.”
Calgary finished 2019-20 fourth in the Pacific with a 36-27-7 record. The Flames beat the Jets in the post-season’s qualifying play but lost to the Dallas Stars in the first round.
Puck drop Thursday goes 6:00 p.m. MT from Winnipeg. Calgary’s home opener, without fans, is set for 8:00 p.m. Saturday, Jan 16., welcoming the Vancouver Canucks.
You can hear action all season on Sportsnet 960 The Fan.