The first game of the season went as well as it possibly could have for the Calgary Flames. They beat the Stanley Cup Champions in the Colorado Avalanche, Darryl Sutter earned his 700th career victory as a head coach, and the Flames’ infamous season opener losing streak finally came to a close.
On top of that, the trio of Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, and MacKenzie Weegar all picked up points in their Flames debut. Among them, who had the most memorable first game as a Flame? We asked, you answered.
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Making memories with the Flaming C
Here’s how the scoresheet looked like for the new faces of the Flames. The trio all got onto the scoreboard by way of assisting on critical goals that powered the Flames to victory.
With all due respect to the fourth Flames debut of the night, Kevin Rooney, his debut came with less fanfare and he was also held off the scoresheet in his debut. He was fine, but won’t be an option in the running for this week’s poll.
Here’s how advanced metrics measured the debut performances, taken at score- and venue-adjusted 5v5 percentages from NaturalStatTrick.com.
So with that in mind, which player had the most memorable debut?
Weegar’s night was stellar
By the eye test and by analytics, Weegar simply looked fantastic in his debut. He was the best defender in the game, and formed a great pairing with Chris Tanev. He had a secondary assist on Brett Ritchie’s goal, and a primary assist in setting up Rasmus Andersson’s breakaway goal.
He ended up logging 20:43 of ice time and over two minutes each on the power play and penalty kill. Simply, it was a great showing for Weegar and having a defencemen slot in where he has strengthens every pairing.
Kadri got his ring and more
Kadri had himself a great game on the second line. In fact, in centring Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dube, the line was the best line in the whole game. They were dominant at 5v5 and Kadri was a big reason for it.
Further, Kadri also received his Stanley Cup ring after the game, hand delivered by Nathan MacKinnon. Even with a great display on the ice in front of the C of Red, the moments after the game should be incomparably more unforgettable for Kadri.
Huberdeau’s family outing
Huberdeau had many family members in the crowd and his sister Josiane even sung the American anthem. It was a Huberdeau family moment as winger made his debut. However, his on-ice performance was actually one of the weaker ones among the Flames.
The Flames’ first line with him, Elias Lindholm, and Tyler Toffoli didn’t fare too hot, and Huberdeau’s assist came on the power play. In fact, the first line was the only line that ended up underwater in possession metrics–the other three lines were well above.
So perhaps his debut wasn’t quite as good as the other two players, but hey, having three memorable debuts overall is a good problem to have.
Onto the next one
It’s great to see all three players pick up assists and get that first point out of the way. Kadri won the race to the first goal, getting a breakaway against the Oilers to give the Flames a 3–1 lead in the first Battle of Alberta of the season.
Let’s hope the rest get there sooner rather than later.
Which player had the most memorable moments for you? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @wincolumnCGY.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire