DINNER FROM THE ’DOME: The latest on the Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter hesitated briefly when asked on Tuesday whether he had his defensive pairings set for Saturday night.
“I think in my own mind I have them,” he said after a reflective pause. “But we’re still three days away. It’s a bit of a group decision. There are still some things to sort out.”
A day later, fan-favourite Oliver Kylington was skating as a fourth-line winger, sparking outrage among the fanbase after a training camp where the 24-year-old was one of the team’s best in the majority of preseason games.
His game against the Winnipeg Jets, unfortunately, was not one of those games where he stood out for the things he was doing well, and consistency is still a concern the coaching staff has.
It doesn’t help that his blueline partner, Michael Stone, is in COVID protocol, and that Sutter seems set on keeping his pairings and having them compete against each other.
But stay positive if you’re a Kylington fan. His opportunity will come and he just has to play one of his better games when it does.
More on Monahan’s painful NHL season
If you read the earlier story on Sean Monahan, you know his level of comfort is rising as he tests his surgically repaired hip on and off the ice. You may not know how much pain he was in while playing through the injury for so many months.
“It was walking, or sitting, or anything really,” he said on Wednesday. “I’m really happy it’s fixed. I don’t know if anyone is ever 100 per cent. You want to get it close to that. For me, it’s been a while.”
Sutter stressed the importance of his Calgary Flames centreman being full speed for the season again on Wednesday.
“You need five good centremen. So … he’s got to be one of them,” Sutter said. “You want him to be 100 per cent in terms of his mental and his physical game. He’s put a lot of work off the ice. He’ll be ready to go.”
Good Gawdin! Welcome to the Flames opening-day roster
You could argue Calgary Flames prospect Glenn Gawdin won the fourth-line centre spot on merit, but it’s also a bit of a default victory with the injury to Brad Richardson. Still, because of his efforts in the offseason and in preseason, Gawdin could find himself starting on Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers.
Whenever the opportunity arises, the Richmond, B.C. product should finally be able to play in front of his family – which wasn’t an option without fans in the building last year when the 24-year old suited up for seven games.
“It feels great. I thought I had a pretty good preseason,” Gawdin said. “Obviously, this summer, this was my goal. For it to happen right now, I’m happy and looking forward to what’s to come.”
Gawdin found out he was sticking in Calgary the way most players find out important NHL news these days: online.
“I think I found out just like everybody else – I saw the 23-man roster on Twitter,” Gawdin said with a laugh, admitting he was up early checking.
He’s been a strong energy line player in camp, scoring twice in six preseason games and taking important faceoffs with success as well.
His coach took notice after telling him in his exit meetings last year he’d have a good shot this fall. Sutter just needed Gawdin to understand his role and excel at it after getting away with some things in the higher end of a lineup as an AHL all-star he can’t get away with in the NHL.
“A lot of that is mindset. It’s not about getting quicker or getting stronger. A lot of it is how I’m going to play,” Sutter said. “I think he did a good job of understanding that and then applying it.”
Read Calgary Hockey Now for your Calgary Flames coverage. One subscription will grant you access to all Canada Hockey Now sites: Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.
For a limited time, use the coupon code Flames and get a year for just $29.99.