is previewing each of the seven Canadian teams leading up to opening night of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here, the Calgary
Flames step into the spotlight.
The Flames have missed the playoffs in the past four seasons and haven't won a playoff series since their trip to the 2004 Stanley Cup final...They finished 25th overall last year, the club's worst showing since placing 22nd out of 26 teams in 1997-98...Even though there will be an influx of youth, the Flames still have plenty of veteran firepower in Curtis Glencross, Mike Cammalleri, Jiri Hudler, David Jones, Lee Stempniak and defenceman Dennis Wideman...Cammalleri, however, has been hindered by a hand injury in training camp...This will be a crucial week for goalies Karri Ramo, Joey MacDonald and Reto Berra in their battle to replace retired Miikka Kiprusoff
as team's No. 1...Look for 18-year-old Sean Monahan to play nine games with the Flames before a decision is made as to whether he will stick in the NHL this season or returned to his junior team, the Ottawa 67's.
Three questions: Jay Feaster
- Q: We know this is a rebuilding year for your club. After 10 or so days of training camp, which newcomers have stood out?
"We've had a lot of guys who have come in here and stood out. Certainly T.J. Galiardi has looked good. So has David Jones. Shane O'Brien has looked good. Our kids have looked good, too. Monahan has made an impact and Corbin Knight has looked good. So has Kris Russell.
"We've had a good training camp
so far. The players have worked hard. The camp has been high energy with a good pace and good attitudes. At this point and time we're feeling good about things."
- Q: Have any of the three goalies distinguished themselves as a frontrunner to be No. 1?
"It's still wide open. We played a split-squad game to open in Edmonton and we took both of the new goalies in Ramo and Berra with us. We started Rama and gave him the first 30 minutes and he was unspectacular. Then Berra came in was very, very good to give us a chance to rally to overcome a three-goal deficit and win in a shootout.
"We then went to Saskatoon to play Ottawa, and based on his performance in Edmonton, we gave the full performance to Berra and he was just okay. We felt we outplayed Ottawa, but that we were out-goaltended.
"The next night we played an Islanders split-squad team in Regina with quite a few of their NHLers. We gave that one to Ramo and Ramo was excellent. Joey MacDonald has been okay in his two games. So it's still a wide-open competition.
"We have two exhibition games left, tonight [Monday] against the Rangers at home and Wednesday against Phoenix at home. Tonight it will be Ramo and on Wednesday it will be Berra and then we have some decisions to make."
- Q: By all accounts Monahan has been impressive in training camp. But since your team is in rebuild mode, how will you handle his situation?
"What it will come down to, in the final analysis, where we as a hockey operations group and as a coaching staff will determine if he is ready to play. Is he someone who we feel is ready to be an everyday, contributor in the NHL and is that best for his development? Just because our status is rebuild, that doesn't include or preclude or influence us as much as where he is at.
"He has handled himself very well so far. But now with this last two games - he's going to play in both - we expect to see more NHL ready or NHL veteran lineups, so we'll see how he equips himself there and then we have a nine-game audition period also to see him.
"It will be a collective decision. We've talked about it internally already. We haven't made a decision. We will continue to analyze it. Ultimately from [new president of hockey operations] Brian [Burke]
, myself, assistant GM John Weisbrod and [head coach] Bob Hartley, we will come up with our decision."
Training camp development
Player on hot seat
Mikael Backlund (23 goals, 62 points in 170 career NHL games). It's time for the Swedish centre to step up and take a spot on the Flames top line.
576, 305 -- appearances, wins in a Flames sweater from retired goalie Miikka Kiprusoff. No NHL netminder played more or won more than Kiprusoff since he was acquired by Calgary for a second-round draft pick on Nov. 16, 2003.
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