Finally, the answer to our favourite question, #isitoctoberyet, is yes. The Flames open the regular season tonight against the Colorado Avalanche in what will be a fun rematch of a lopsided first round playoff series in the Spring. TWC ran a voluntary questionnaire polling hockey fans about their predictions on the Calgary Flames this season.
The entries have been compiled and the results tabulated, and there are quite a few surprises among the list of questions asked. All totals are represented as percentages in both over and under categories.
- 90% of respondents believe that Noah Hanifin, a once highly touted defender who’s taken his time at the NHL level, will hit the 30 point mark this season. Hanifin could be primed for a breakout year, but has likely lost his powerplay minutes to Rasmus Andersson.
- 90% of respondents also believe Elias Lindholm will once again hit the 22 goal mark. If he sticks on the top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, he should be able to hit that mark with ease. If not, his ceiling is largely unknown.
- A lot of love for Sam Bennett among respondents, with over 80% predicting Bennett to hit 15 goals this season.
- An interesting one to round out the overs is Juuso Valimaki‘s games played. 70% of respondents believe he’ll make his way into at least two games this season, despite a significant ACL tear that could cause him to miss the whole year. Hopefully he does heal up quickly and is able to suit up for the team at some point.
- After doing an incredible job on the penalty kill last season, the majority of respondents don’t feel as though Mark Jankowski will be able to score five shorthanded goals this year; 87% took the under.
- Derek Ryan was one of the Flames’ best forwards in the second half of the season, and finished the 2018-19 campaign with 38 points. Even though he’s penciled in as the team’s third line center and has the potential of regular PP2 duties, 78% of respondents do not think he’ll crack the 40 point mark this season. This could end up being one of the biggest misses in the poll.
- Rounding out the unders, 67% of respondents aren’t betting on Gaudreau hitting the 100 point mark after topping out at 99 last season.
- Mikael Backlund‘s career high is 53 points which he scored in 2017, and came awfully close last season finishing with 47. A 50 point campaign seems doable for Backlund especially playing with Tkachuk every single night, but respondents were split on whether he’ll hit the mark for just the second time in his NHL career. A slight favour to the under at 52%.
- The powerplay was ranked 18th last season even with the second highest scoring offense in the NHL. Respondents were split down the middle, 52% saying the Flames would finish inside the top 10.
- At one point, Sean Monahan was on pace to break the 40 goal mark with ease. Unfortunately, a slow second half saw him finish the season with 34, still good for first on the team. Just getting one more goal was harder to get respondents to commit to, as just 53% chose Monahan to hit 35 this season.
- Goaltending has been the biggest question mark for this team for what feels like decades, and with newcomer Cam Talbot expected to share the crease with David Rittich, it was hard for respondents to say that Rittich would start 52 games. 53% took the over.
This year’s poll was a mixed bag. There’s definitely optimism surrounding the team and most expect them to make the playoffs and even have home ice, but there’s is also an expectation that the Flames will regress after so many players hit career highs last season. Overall, the impression is that Flames fans are excited but cautious; it’s hard to blame them after such a great regular season and such a disappointing playoffs.
New to our poll this season, the person who chose the most correct responses at the end of the season will win a Flames puck and some TWC stickers to go with it. A big thank you and good luck to everyone who submitted entries!