As the Saddledome shifts from Juno mode back to hockey for the final two home games of a season gone wrong, Calgary Flames showed that it takes a lot of good fortune as well as good play to become a consistent winner.
Calgary ended a playoff drought last year and had Flames fans gleefully proclaiming “this is how you do a rebuild”. But the extra edge hungry young players brought to the ice last season wasn’t there this season, starting with a beatdown in their home opener against Vancouver and descending through 6 weeks of brutal goaltending with few points won.
Finding a top netminder is the top priority this summer but with stars Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan up for big raises, that limits the options somewhat.
As do a number of bad contracts for players on the bottom half of the roster. Players like Wideman, Engelland and the now minor leaguer Mason Raymond are taking too much of the payroll for their roles.That is something that will have to be cleaned up.
The upside of being out of it so early is that GM Brad Treliving has had an opportunity to assess talent in the system to see if they can play and if judged unable, there’s time to find cheap players for the bottom two lines and the third defense two some.
The frustrating part is there were good seasons put in by a number of Flames, 30 goals and counting for Johnny G, Mark Giordano’s career high in goals- yet the league worst special teams and the decision to go with three goalies to start the year were too much to overcome.
Certainly not the season the Flames and fans were hoping for–maybe even expecting– after last year’s jump into the playoffs. Hope springs eternal however, even if this spring will again be one without NHL playoffs.