The Calgary Flames’ 2022-23 season home opener holds special significance this year as the Flames will rely on their new roster of star players to face off against last year’s Stanley Cup champions, the Colorado Avalanche.
The Flames – and their fans – hope this year will turn out better than last when they burned out in the second round of the playoffs against the Edmonton Oilers in five games.
Host of the Flames Talk podcast at Sportsnet 960, Pat Steinberg, knows the expectations are cut out for the Flames this year.
“Anything less than the playoffs would be a straight up failure,” he said.
That is why fans were not reassured when the Flames lost some big name players over the summer.
In July, the team lost left-winger Johnny Gaudreau when he signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets. A week later, they dealt their second star forward, Matthew Tkachuk, to the Florida Panthers in exchange for acclaimed centre Jonathan Huberdeau and top defenceman MacKenzie Weegar.
However, head coach Darryl Sutter and his team were still missing one piece: centreman Nazem Kadri, who they acquired as a free agent signing on Aug. 18.
There were high hopes for the new summer acquisitions. That was until the Flames posted an underwhelming 4-4 record in their pre-season games between Sept. 25 and Oct. 7.
“I don’t usually put a ton of stock into pre-season… I think it’s more about finding out who works best with who, and for the individual, becoming a little bit closer to regular season form,” said Steinberg.
As a Flames analyst for the past 18 years, Steinberg remains confident that this year’s team is an improvement from last year.
“It might take a little time, but I think the (new) fit has the chance of being really strong,” he said.
The Calgary Flames host the Colorado Avalanche in their home opener on Oct. 13 at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The Flames have not won a home opener in 13 years, and with everything that happened in the off season, a lot is riding on the outcome.