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Canucks Pacific Division Rival Preview: Calgary Flames

Will the Flames be more prepared for Dekey Pete this season?

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Calgary Flames
Oct 6, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (40) celebrates his goal against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

By all accounts, the Calgary Flames had a heck of a regular season. Unfortunately for our friends over at Matchsticks and Gasoline, it didn’t translate to any playoff success.

The Flames finished the regular season with 107 points, which led the Western Conference. That total was the best in franchise history since they posted 117 points in 1988-89, the year they won the Stanley Cup.

This time around, they won but one playoff game against the eighth-seeded Colorado Avalanche, who absolutely skated circles around the Flames en route to winning the series in five games.

So what did the Flames do to conquer speedier teams like the one that beat them in the playoffs? Well, they traded for Milan Lucic, and that was basically the highlight (or lowlight) of their offseason.

In: Cam Talbot (free agency), Milan Lucic (trade)

Out: James Neal (trade, EDM), Michael Stone (buyout), Mike Smith (free agency, EDM), Oscar Fantenburg (free agency, VAN), Curtis Lazar (free agency, BUF)

Quick Take: After looking at the Calgary Flames offseason you do wonder how well they’re equipped for a long playoff run after a lack of activity.

I mean, they basically copied the Ottawa Senators, which is never a recipe for success. The Sens seemed to pick up the Maple Leafs trash during free agency, and the Flames did something similar by grabbing Cam Talbot and Milan Lucic.

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Toronto Maple Leafs
Milan Lucic is now a member of the Calgary Flames.
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Lucic for James Neal swap was a head scratcher, but it was clear that Flames head coach Bill Peters was not going to give Neal much of an opportunity. He was relegated to the bottom-six role right from the outset of the season and never saw much ice time with the Flames star players.

After an abysmal season where he battled injuries and nothing went right, Neal is a good candidate to bounce back. Lucic, after two very mediocre seasons, is not.

Like many teams, the reason the Flames didn’t do much was because of their salary cap crunch. They currently have $7.7 million in cap space, and they need to sign Matthew Tkachuk. They also need to sign Andrew Mangiapane along with recalling, signing or trading for a seventh defenceman.

Flames overall record in 2018-19: 50-25-7, 107 Points (1st in Western Conference, 2nd overall in NHL)

Flames 2018-19 record against Canucks: 2-1-2

The Canucks took three of five games against the Flames last season, even if they needed overtime and a shootout for two of those wins. However, the biggest takeaway about the five games these teams played against each other last season, is that Elias Pettersson loves the Flames.

In their home-and-home to begin the season, Pettersson exploded onto the scene with three goals and five points in those two matchups. He ended the season with nine points in five games against Calgary, his best total against any team.

The Sedins spent years terrorizing the Flames. Will Pettersson take the torch and continue to do the same?

Another storyline to watch, will we finally get our first Olli Juolevi versus Matthew Tkachuk matchup this season?

And as much as Cam Talbot has been mediocre during his last two NHL seasons, he tends to rise to the occasion against the Canucks. In 15 games, Talbot is 8-2-4 with a .938 save percentage against Vancouver. Calgary’s other goalie, David Rittich, had a .895 save percentage in two loser-point losses to the Canucks last season.

Canucks vs. Flames games in 2019-20

  • Saturday, October 5th @ Flames (7:00 pm)
  • Sunday, December 29th @ Flames (6:30 pm)
  • Saturday, February 8th vs. Flames (7:00 pm)
  • Friday, March 27th vs. Flames (7:00 pm)