Calgary Flames

Flames Sunday Census: Calgary’s most surprising forward line to start 2022–23

The NHL season has started and the Calgary Flames have had a pretty solid start to the season overall. The team went through many changes during the offseason—full credit to the mastermind Brad Treliving—and as a result, the team’s forward lines look very different.

So what changed? Well maybe it is the new top player on line one in Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri taking on the role of second-line centre with Dillon Dube getting a promotion to the same line, Backlund solidifying the third line or even the new-look fourth line with Kevin Rooney and Trevor Lewis. Yeah, the whole forward lineup has changed.

Now that there are new lineups being deployed, which line has been the most surprising? We asked, you answered.

Different from top to bottom

This question can really be interpreted in different ways. Maybe a line has been surprising because of how well they have played, or maybe they have been surprising for the exact opposite reason. Sure, it’s early in the season, but let’s take a look at what the poll says.


Honestly, this line is my choice. It has been incredibly surprising how underwhelming they have been at 5v5—a big “meh” so far. It’s not like they are a liability, but they frankly have not been effective enough at 5v5. On paper, the line looks very strong.

When you see Huberdeau, Lindholm, and Toffoli on the same line, it seems like it should be a line that is able to easily put the puck into the net. So far, that hasn’t been the case, but maybe the chemistry will build with time.

They’re surprising, but for the wrong reasons.


An overwhelming number of readers voted for the second line—and it makes a lot of sense. Mangiapane, Kadri, and Dube have been absolutely dominant so far this season. They play a relentless game which puts a ton of pressure on the opposition. Whatever they are doing, it seems to be working wonders. Kadri has had at least a point in every single game, Mangiapane is as good as ever, and Dube is even having a stronger start to his year too.

Watching this group play hockey has honestly been a treat with the amount of speed they play with. Almost every time they enter the offensive zone it feels like a goal is about to come. Hopefully they can keep up this level of play all season long.

Their overall dynamic on the ice is a welcomed surprise.


The line of Coleman, Backlund, and Lewis has been performing exactly how I expected it to. Voters tended to agree as well as a very low amount of votes went towards this line. Despite this, I think all fans recognize how much of a luxury it is to have Backlund as the team’s third line centre. With how strong the Flames’ centre depth is currently, the team looks just one step closer to being built like a contender. Backlund is a good second line centre, but he is a great third line centre.


When Kevin Rooney was signed, fans were not happy. The expectations were incredibly low from Flames fans for the Flames fourth line, and wow have they proven every fan wrong. The fourth line looks..dare I say… good? Brett Ritchie currently has more goals than Auston Matthews (no, I don’t think that will continue), Kevin MaRoon-ey has been incredibly effective on the ice, and Lucic has great chemistry with both his linemates. So far, they have overall been a reliable group in certain situations.

It’s up to the top line

Overall, I would say every Flames line has been meeting or exceeding expectations, except the top line. If the top line can get going, this team will just be even tougher to play against. The Flames are currently 4–1–0, so the team has been getting points to open their campaign. However, getting the top line to be offensively dangerous is key if the Flames want to have a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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