After being pretty much full throttle for the first 20 games of the season, the Calgary Flames finally got a respite this week with three days between games. It’s a good thing, too, because their December schedule is going to carry a lot of weight in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, there is increased worry about the NHL players participating in the 2022 Beijing Olympics. And the Vancouver Canucks didn’t make sweeping changes this week, but nearly everyone expects implosion any moment now.
Back to the Flames and their upcoming schedule. Having one of the top-five starts in franchise history is great. Gives them points in the pocket. But they’ve got their work cut out for them still. Only one of those previous hot starts ended in glory. One ended in epic failure. And the current Calgary Flames will see more familiar opponents in the next month.
They’ve played fewer than one third of their games against Western Conference opponents so far and are 1-2-3 versus the West. They’re 0-2-1 in the Pacific Division and 11 of 15 December games are against teams in their conference, with eight inside the division.
“It was very nice for us after our busy schedule to have a couple of days to regroup and get the mind right again,” Matthew Tkachuk said on Friday. “It was good to have that. I think everybody needed that.
“Now we can come back tomorrow, have two games at home here to take care of business.”
They finish a short home stand with games against Winnipeg Saturday and Pittsburgh on Monday before heading back out on the road for four in California and Nevada.
Oh Canada! Canada Hockey Now
Vancouver: One major element the Calgary Flames seem to have in spades is chemistry. The opposite is true in Vancouver where the Canucks are still searching for the right mix on and off the ice.
Toronto: Scott Cullen took a look at the former Toronto Maple Leafs around the NHL. Nazem Kadri is the big loss.
Montreal: The Canadiens are in trouble. Our boys in the NHL’s most rabid hockey city take a poke at grading the goalies and defencemen at the quarter pole.
NHL Trade Chatter, News & National Hockey Now
Sportsnet: In his 32 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman discussed the growing fears over NHL-Olympics participation, the Buffalo Sabres cautiously shopping the NHL trade market for a goalie, and the impending Canucks implosion.
TSN: Matt Murray is 0-5 this season and is coming under fire in Ottawa.
Pittsburgh: Maybe it’s because of the Olympics, but there is renewed debate about who is the generation’s best – it’s Crosby vs. Ovechkin, 2.0.
Colorado: What are Colorado Avalanche fans thankful for?
San Jose: The Sharks are rarely favorites, but as Sheng Peng writes, the underdogs turn it on when they need to.
Vegas: Don’t look now but the Golden Knights are getting healthy. Calgary Flames fans are going to be very annoyed when Jack Eichel comes back in the new year, too.