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Season preview: Calgary Flames

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Season preview: Calgary Flames

To get you ready for the 2015-16 season, we will be previewing all 30 NHL in 30 days, division by division. Check the bottom of the page for a schedule of each preview.

Today’s team: Calgary Flames

2014-15 record: 45-30-7, 3rd in the Pacific

How they finished: Lost in five games to Anaheim in the Western Conference Semifinals

Coach: Bob Hartley (4th season)

Notable additions: D Dougie Hamilton, RW Michael Frolik

Notable subtractions: D Raphael Diaz

RELATED: With Johansson signed, are the Caps done making moves?

Schedule against the Capitals: Tues. Oct. 20 at Calgary, Fri. Nov 13. at Washington

Outlook: Calgary shocked the hockey world by not only making the playoffs last season, but advancing to the second round. Though the Flames are full of talent, their success last season was as inexplicable as it is unsustainable. Calgary was one of the worst possession teams at five-on-five last season with a Corsi for percentage of 44.5. They also had a lot of late-game comebacks, managing to win or force overtime 14 times when trailing after two periods. The Flames simply cannot expect that success to continue next season without better possession numbers and better starts.

Having said that, there's a lot to like about this Calgary team.

The team managed to keep every key player from last season and also added two key pieces in Dougie Hamilton and Michael Frolik, both of whom will help the team's possession stats. The Hamilton addition also helps shore up a defense that had limited depth. Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie are very good as the top pairing, but everything behind them was essentially a question mark. With Hamilton in the fold, the Flames have a solid top three and can cycle Dennis Wideman, Ladislav Smid, Deryk Engelland and Kris Russell to find where each player best fits.

Offensively, you hope to see the young players continue to develop. Johnny Gaudreau turns 22 in August and had 64 points last season. There is definite superstar potential there. Jiri Hudler is playing the best hockey of his career and at 31-years-old the Flames should be able to get one or two more years out of him before he really begins to decline.

Calgary was in the top ten last season in scoring. With their young players still developing, the addition of Frolik and a healthy Giordano back on the blue line, this offense may be shockingly good this year.

In net, the Flames bring back Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo. Hiller took control in the regular season, but both goalies appeared in seven games in the playoffs. The Flames need Hiller to establish himself as a top netminder not just over the regular season, but in the playoffs as well.

Neither goalie looks good enough to carry the team, but with the offense and an improved defense, they won't have to.

Expectations: One reason the Flames were able to sneak into the playoffs last season was the decline of Los Angeles and San Jose. While Los Angeles could return to playoff form this season, both Vancouver and San Jose look to be on the decline. Calgary is not.

Anaheim showed Calgary that there is a difference between a playoff team in their series last year. The Flames do not look to be on that level yet, but they are on the right track. They will be good enough to make the playoffs again, but it would be a surprise to see them really challenge for the division or the conference.

MORE CAPS: Caps get a good deal with Johansson contract

See more team previews:

Pacific Division 
Anaheim Ducks
Arizona Coyotes
Edmonton Oilers 8/4 
Los Angeles Kings 8/5 
San Jose Sharks 8/6 
Vancouver Canucks 8/7

Central Division 
Chicago Blackhawks 8/8 
Colorado Avalanche 8/9 
Dallas Stars 8/10 
Minnesota Wild 8/11
St. Louis Blues 8/13 
Winnipeg Jets 8/14

Atlantic Division 
Boston Bruins 8/15 
Buffalo Sabres 8/16 
Detroit Red Wings 8/17 
Florida Panthers 8/18 
Montreal Canadiens 8/19 
Ottawa Senators 8/20< 
Tampa Bay Lightning 8/21 
Toronto Maple Leafs 8/22

Metropolitan Division 
Carolina Hurricanes 8/23 
Columbus Blue Jackets 8/24 
New Jersey Devils 8/25 
New York Islanders 8/26 
New York Rangers 8/27 
Philadelphia Flyers 8/28 
Pittsburgh Penguins 8/29 
Washington Capitals 8/30

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Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

LAS VEGAS—Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom weren’t expecting to lose their head coach less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup.

But business is business, Ovi said, and Barry Trotz is handling his by attempting to capitalize on claiming the championship.

“It’s sad,” Ovechkin said on the red carpet at the NHL Awards, where he accepted his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy on Wednesday night. “Obviously, we won together.”

The Caps’ captain also thanked Trotz for directing him—and his teammates—to new heights.  

“First of all, [I want to] thank him for a great job to be our coach, to be our dad, to give us a chance to win,” Ovechkin said. “But then again, it’s a business. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be fine and I wish him luck.”

Backstrom, meanwhile, said he was caught off guard by Trotz’s decision to step down over a contract stalemate with the team. Trotz asked for $5 million per for five seasons; the Caps balked over the terms Trotz’s camp sought.   

“I was a little surprised, obviously,” Backstrom said. “I heard the scenario.”

Like Ovechkin, though, Backstrom praised the job Trotz did during his four-year tenure.

“He’s done a great job in Washington,” Backstrom said. “We obviously have him to thank for a lot. He’s done a tremendous job of schooling us and winning a championship. No one is going to take that away from him.”

Trotz’s next move is unclear, but he’s a free agent and currently eligible to negotiate with any team. The Islanders are the only team with an opening for a head coach.

As for Washington, GM Brian MacLellan said that associate coach Todd Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz.

Ovechkin said he thinks Reirden would be a good fit.

“We all respect Todd,” Ovechkin said. “We all like him. Again, it’s not our thing to say who’s going to be head coach, but if it’s going to be Todd, it’s going to be fun.”

MORE CAPITALS COVERAGE:

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A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

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Daniel Duffy on Twitter/@RealArtOfWords

A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

How do you make a photo of Alex Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time even more memorable?

You make it out of all the Capitals' game scores this year, of course.

Capitals fan and artist Daniel Duffy (@RealArtOfWords) posted a phenomenal finished piece commemorating the Cup win on Wednesday, June 20. It's a little meta and astounding to look at, but very fun to try and read. If you want to relive the glory that was the parts of the 2017-18 Capitals season, check out the piece.

The piece, which appears to be done in a traditional medium like pen or marker, holds the team faced, arena played at, and final score of every game. It uses six colors and over sixty lines of text. Ovechkin roars as he holds the Stanley Cup overhead, the white away jersey shaded with bits of grey text. It takes a skilled eye to sort text and colors into shapes and shading, but Daniel did a fantastic job! It's awesome to see a fanbase create different interpretations of iconic moments. We'll surely see more of Ovechkin in this moment.

Just as we thought we were going to get tired of the celebration, fans find new ways to surprise us. Stay creative, Caps fans!

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