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Game Day: Re-Tooled Flames Face Tough Test Against Panthers

The Calgary Flames lost two elite players this summer and the new additions are working on learning Darryl Sutter’s way.



Is it really a matinee if it’s played at 4 p.m.? Late afternoon or early evening? Either way, the Calgary Flames (7-7-2) and Florida Panthers (9-7-1) are set to do battle Saturday with plenty of side stories to watch. 

Matthew Tkachuk, Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar are all playing their former team for the first time. Prior to the blockbuster summer deal that will forever connect them in NHL history, the had only played for the team that drafted them. 

For Huberdeau and Weegar, the emotions may be more intense. They’re returning to their former home in the visitors dressing room and the trade was a shock to them. 

For Tkachuk, he’s in the comforts of his new home and essentially orchestrated the deal that sent him to south Florida. 

To say the transition has been easier for him, or the Panthers, may be unfair. Given the expectations on both these teams, their starts as we approach a quarter mark on the season have been less than stellar. 

At least when it comes to their records. 

Tkachuk is lighting it up. Huberdeau is adapting and his game is coming together now. Weegar is also trying to find his fit in Darryl Sutter’s system. 

Sutter, though, understands what his team needs to do. He’s been through it before, when he took over the Calgary Flames mid-season two years ago and started working on changing the identity. 

“The most important thing is getting back to being an honest, hard-working team,” Sutter said this week when talking about the process of playing well. “That’s the most important thing. Our team last year learnt that and did that. It took them 30 games the year before to figure it out. And then they did it. You had guys that really took charge of that and then you just left it alone.”

Last year’s run to the Pacific Division title was a bit of a surprise. They looked like a team that never stopped pushing forward, right until they hit the wall against the Edmonton Oilers in the playoffs. 

“Now we’ve had to restart that. Two of the guys that were involved in that aren’t here anymore. And they were top players for us. You’re trying to do the reset again without those guys,” Sutter said. 

“So you’re bringing new guys in that have to learn that or understand that. It takes time. And with the parity in the league, it’s hard.”

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