Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Forman Faceoff 2015/2016 NHL Season Preview - Calgary Flames

By: Joel Forman - The Forman Faceoff

Last Season: 45-30-7 with 97 points, 3rd in the Pacific Division and 6th in the Western Conference

The Flames were the feel-good story of the year last season, a team no one expected to be good at the start of the season that blossomed into an emerging offensive team. Lead by the trio of Sean Monahan, Jiri Hudler and Johnny "Hockey" Gaudreau, the Flames became the comeback kids of the NHL and continuously fought off 3rd period deficits to win games. A big loss for the Flames was Captain Mark Giordano going down with a torn triceps late in the regular season, a devastating blow for a team returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The Flames beat the Canucks in 6 and then lost to the Ducks in 5, but excite continues to grow for the future in Calgary. With that being said, here is a look at their 2015/2016 Season Preview:

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler
Sam Bennett - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik
Micheal Ferland  - Joe Colborne - Josh Jooris
Lance Bouma - Matt Stajan - David Jones
Extra: Mason Raymond, Brandon Bollig

One of the best lines in the NHL last season was the Gaudreau-Monahan-Hudler line, and for the Flames to repeat their success this season they will need that line to be even better. It will be very interesting to watch the development of Sam Bennett this season, he showed glimpses in the playoffs last year of being a dominant NHL player and has a very bright future ahead. The addition of Michael Frolik should help the Flames upfront, the 2nd line of Bennett-Backlund-Frolik has the potential to be a quiet but deadly line. One of my favourite players from last season was Micheal Ferland, going to be exciting to see what he can do in a full season.

Mark Giordano - Dougie Hamilton
Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman
TJ Brodie - Deryk Engelland
Extra: Jakub Nakladal

The Flames boast perhaps the best defensive unit in the NHL. bolstered by the addition of rising star Dougie Hamilton from the Bruins. The Flames will have a healthy Mark Giordano back to join Hamilton, Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, TJ Brodie and Deryk Engelland as the Flames 6 D. TJ Brodie is out 3-6 weeks with a broken bone in his hand so it will be Jakub Nakladal getting some minutes in his absence. This is going to be a fun group to watch, particularly Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton on the powerplay. Look for a big year offensively out of the Flames defense.

Karri Ramo
Jonas Hiller

The Flames really don't have a set #1 goalie, and that was the case all last season as Bob Hartley constantly switched his starting goaltender. Both Hiller and Ramo had strong portions of last season, but inconsistency was ultimately the reason neither of them took the starting job. It will be interesting to see if we see the same this year or one of them takes control, and I think that Karri Ramo is in the better position to claim the Flames starting goalie spot.

2015/2016 Outlook and Prediction:
3rd in Pacific Division, 6th in Western Conference

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