It took longer than we wanted, but the Flames begin their 2012-2013 season with an afternoon game against the San Jose Sharks.
So what can we expect? The answer is, who knows.
On paper the Flames are a more skilled hockey team than last season, which is what GM Jay Feaster wanted to address. He brought in Jiri Hudler who scored 25 goals for the Detroit Red Wings, he won the battle for the services of Roman Cervenka, who many say was the best player not playing in the NHL, and he acquired Dennis Wideman, a gifted offensive defenceman to quarterback the power play. Unfortunately Hudler and Cervenka will not be in the lineup Sunday, which will hurt the Flames offensively.
There are many question marks surrounding the Flames this year and if things fall into place, the Flames have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs.
Here are some things that need to happen.
First off, Jarome Iginla cannot get off to a slow start, something that has plagued him the last couple of years. In 2010-11 he had two goals in the first 15 games, and in 2011-12 he had two goals in the first 10 games.
Miikka Kiprusoff must be the team’s MVP. Hudler must show that he is the 25-goal scorer he was last year, not the 10 goal scorer he was the previous year. Cervenka must show he can play on the smaller ice and to be able to handle the daily grind of the NHL. Mike Cammalleri has to be more consistent in his play, especially in the goal column. Mikael Backlund has to take the next step and prove he can be an effective player. Wideman needs to be as good offensively as advertised. And Alex Tanguay must adapt to the centre ice position sooner than later.
These are just a few of the things that need to happen for this team to have success, and if not, the Flames may be looking at four straight years of not making the playoffs.