The Calgary Flames are set to play in the 2023 NHL Heritage Classic in Edmonton in the first Battle of Alberta of the season. Prior to the season starting, this game would have been a high stakes four-point game in one of the grandest stages… Now it’s just two teams trying to get out of a slump. The Oilers are sitting at 1–5–1, and the Flames aren’t far ahead at 2–5–1. Somehow they’re not last in the Pacific Division as the San Jose Sharks still remain winless at 0–7–1.
Yes, it’s still a four-point divisional game that may have playoff implications in April 2024, but the bigger aspect of the game is it might be the game to get at least one of the two Albertan teams out of a slump. Both are on four-game losing streaks, and one of them must win.
Instead of getting too deep into the depths of despair, let’s take a look at what this game can mean for some Calgary Flames players from a stats perspective.
Calgary Flames with outdoor game experience
Captain Mikael Backlund is the only Flames player to feature in both of Calgary’s Heritage Classics—the first being in 2011 against the Montreal Canadiens, the second being in 2019 against the Winnipeg Jets. Alongside Backlund, there’s Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, and Andrew Mangiapane who also played in 2019. Unfortunately, two defenders from the 2019 roster won’t play in 2023, as Rasmus Andersson is out due to suspension and Oliver Kylington is inactive and not with the Flames at the time being.
Outside of these players, there are newer faces on the team with outdoor game experience although not with Calgary. The most seasoned outdoor game veteran is Nazem Kadri, who’s played in four outdoor games—three with the Toronto Maple Leafs (2014, 2017, 2018) and one with the Colorado Avalanche (2021). Chris Tanev has one game under his belt when he was with the Vancouver Canucks (2014) and lastly, Nikita Zadorov featured in one game with the Avalanche (2020) as well.
So for much of the Flames’ roster, the Heritage Classic will be their outdoor game debut. This includes Jonathan Huberdeau and Jacob Markstrom as some of the bigger names. Considering there are only six current Flames with outdoor games as members of Calgary, it’s just another indication of a different era of Flames hockey.
Flames stats from outdoor games
Using the list of players with outdoor game experience, these are their stats.
With a combined 11 games of outdoor game experience between the players expected to play, there have only been two goals and zero assists. Let’s hope some of the offence breaks open on outdoor ice and the 2023 Heritage Classic is turned into a high-scoring affair.