Let’s start off by saying the new jersey’s are hot, almost literally. The limited edition alternate red jersey’s look like the old school 80’s away jersey, commemorate the 30th anniversary of the franchise. Other third jerseys (this isn’t officially a ‘third jersey’) don’t look so great, these ones are simple and old school which work for me.

In fitting fashion, the 2009-2010 season for the Calgary Flames opened against divisional rivals the Vancouver Canucks. The heated rivalry takes the same tone this year as seasons in the past with both teams vying for the top spot in the NW Division. Both sides claim to hold the edge to reign supreme so why not have them square off in first game of the season? Sounds OK by me.

The Flames have had a sub-par record on home opening nights and looked to right the ship in the department with their new team. The core remains the same in 2009-10, Iginla, Phaneuf, Kiprusoff, Regehr, Langkow. Now add Bouwmeester, Jokinen, and a new coach in Brent Sutter, and the Flames have more reasons think they have a change to go all the way (or in the least, the first round…..please, at least the
first round….)

First Period Dominated by the Flames

The pre-season was unusually good for the Calgary Flames powerplay. The trend continued into the regular season when Mark Giordano made a nifty move at the point to get open and promptly snapped home the first goal of the regular season short side against Boolongo–I mean Luongo.

Penalty troubles continued for Vancouver two minutes later when Henrik Sendin went to the box for the infamous weak hook. Once again Giordano engineered Rene Bourque’s first of the year that went top shelf.

Calgary’s first period onslaught continued headed by the defence again, this time Adam Pardy who took his own blocked shot and found the top shelf blocker side on Luongo. 3-0 for the good guys.

Vancouver looked flat through the first but managed to find some legs in the second once again on the PP (or rather just after). A deflected goal by Calgary’s Sjostrom, but it was enough to give the Canucks some life.

Calgary responded midway through the second after some sustained down low pressure from the newly formed fourth line with Sjostrom-Nystrom-Prust. Prust powered his way to the front of the goal and slid the fourth goal past Luongo.

Vancouver pulled to within two, again, with the man-advantage courtesy of a nice tip in the slot by newly acquired Mikael Samuelsson.

You had the sense that if the teams stayed out of the box the 5v5 play would go Calgary’s way in the third. What was interesting was the lack of production from the first line who barely registered a shot through the first two periods. All the scoring was done by the secondary lines, including the defence, whereas the top lines where mostly silent. That’s a good thing for the Flames if it stays consistent through the rest of the season, that’s bad news if the Flames can’t find help in the space Cammalleri left open.

10 unanswered shots and a lucky goal in the first minute gave Vancouver some life drawing within one goal to tie. Calgary was losing the battles down low as the Canucks finally woke up. They came close to tying the game on a few occasions when Calgary started forgetting details, but all were stopped by Kiprusoff.

A bit on Luongo. Most of the country dislikes the guy because he plays for Vancouver, but he also plays hockey like a Brazilian plays soccer. Laying on the ice like he’s been shot every time he gets a puck above his belly button is lame.

Calgary’s offence disappeared in the third period which needs to be addressed. Kiprusoff bailed the team out, a new defence that supposedly pays more attention to details. It looked good for the first two periods, but collapsed in the third giving up over 40 shots.

Dion Phaneuf capped the night and solidified the two points with an empty netter with a minute left. Jarome with the assist and Conroy playing the last part of the third on the top line….

Next up, Edmonton, and a chance to go up early against divisional rivals. The goods news is, despite the third period breakdown, Calgary has 81 games to fix it, and with Sutter behind the helm, it won’t take that long.