If you haven’t been following the Flames closely, here’s a crash course.
First, this club is exciting. At times, they seem to score goals at will.
The dynamic duo of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan became even more powerful this year with the addition of Elias Lindholm, acquired via a summer trade with the Carolina Hurricanes. Together, the trio forms one of the top scoring lines in the league.
The “3M Line” of Michael Backlund, Matthew Tkachuk and Michael Frolik, are capable of both scoring goals and shutting down the other team’s top line.
The forward ranks are rounded out with a combination of grit, secondary scoring, and youthful exuberance. James “The Real Deal” Neal has had an off year but could make everyone forget it with some timely goal scoring in the post-season.
The blue line is anchored by Captain Mark Giordano, who is putting together a Norris Trophy worthy season at the age of 35 as the best defenseman in the league. He has been reunited with former partner, TJ Brodie, and the pair have rediscovered their chemistry. The second unit of Noah Hanifin and Travis Hamonic are rock solid. The emergence of Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington has provided the club with a great deal of depth on the blue line, with four other rearguards possibly seeing action come the post-season.
Behind the bench is Coach Bill Peters, who has made all the right moves this year and could be in the running for the NHL’s Coach of the Year. Overall it a highly skilled and deep group, that has the pieces to make some noise.