CALGARY – It’s a clean slate for the Calgary Flames as the hockey club gets set to hit the ice and open a brand new season Thursday.
The Flames are in Denver for a tilt with the Colorado Avalanche, the same team that eliminated them from the playoffs in five games in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
The key pieces are back in place for the Flames after the team topped the Western Conference with 50 wins in 2018-2019.
Maturing scorers Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau are expected to generate a lot of the offence, while star defenceman and team captain, Mark Giordano, returns after a Norris Trophy winning season.
Forward Matthew Tkachuk is back in the fold after signing a three-year deal worth $21 million, making him the highest paid player in franchise history. Tkachuk says he’s happy to be back with the team and has his eyes set on exorcising the ghosts of the team's playoff performance last year.
"It’s such a miserable couple of months and so until the rest of the teams are done the Stanley Cup final it’s miserable," said Tkachuk. "I don’t want to feel that again."
GM Brad Treliving is also looking forward to the first big test of the season, coincidentally against the Colorado Avalanche.
"I heard a good line the other day that if you’re going through the schedule looking for an easy game and you can’t find one, you’re probably the easy game," Treliving joked. "There aren’t any easy ones. It’s a really good team we’re facing and a really good team that got better over the summer."
Some new faces will make their Calgary Flames debut tonight.
Former Edmonton Oilers Milan Lucic, Tobias Rieder and Cam Talbot are all in the new lineup. Both forwards scored in preseason action, making an impression against their former team.
Goaltender Cam Talbot, who was signed in the offseason, is likely to back-up starter David Rittich.
The Flames take on the Avalanche at the Pepsi Center in Denver at 7 p.m.