Since the Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2004, the Calgary Flames have had high expectations since. The organization has struggled during the playoffs since their appearance in 2004, they lost to the Anaheim Ducks in 2006, then the Detroit Red Wings in 2007, both in the first round respectively. Calgary has had a major over hall during this off-season, they lost veteran defense man Brad Stuart to the Los Angeles Kings, and forwards such as Tony Amonte have moved on.
Although, Darryl Sutter the General Manager of the Calgary Flames has improved his club prior to last years exit from the playoffs. He added power-forward Owen Nolan, veteran defense man in Corey Sarich, Anders Eriksson and Adrian Aucoin and the re-signing of all-star Jarome Iginla and all-star Robyn Regehr, the Flames are looking to finally make that push back to the Stanley Cup Finals. The team in previous years have added Alex Tanguay, Kristian Huselius who provided last years team with a much needed offensive boost. Matthew Lombardi had his coming out party during the World Championships, playing along side fellow country man Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The biggest news off the off-season for the Calgary Flames, and it's fans was on June 14th, where Darryl Sutter removed Jim Playfair of his head coaching duties and turned it over to Mike Keenan. The move came as somewhat of a surprise to fans, although fans in Calgary we're already calling for Playfair's head after his rookie season as the Flames bench boss. The Flames only won a total of thirteen road games all year, compared to thirty at home. Keenan, hasn't had a successful campaign since winning the Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994. He is most noted for his time in Florida, where he never had a successful season with the Panthers compiling 45-73-23-12 record, and finishing 4th in the Southeast Division for two straight seasons before abruptly resigning as the General Manager of the Panthers.
Jarome Iginla, the captain of the Calgary Flames will be looked upon to provide leadership for his club this season. Iginla was on his way to having another career year until he suffered a lower-body injury which caused him to miss 11 straight games. Although, Iginla finished the year with an impressive 39 goals, and 55 assists for 94 points. Others like Alex Tanguay will also be under a microscope this season to help Calgary put more goals on the board with his outstanding play making ability. Matthew Lombardi should improve immensely in his point totals from a year ago and Owen Nolan will have to put substantial points on the board with Kristian Huselius.
The Flames bold well in the net, with all-star Miikka Kiprusoff at the helm for another season in his contract year. Kiprusoff , has posted an impressive 106-54-20 record since being acquired in November, 2003 from San Jose. The 2006 William M. Jennings Trophy & Vezina Trophy Winner and nominee in 2007 will be looked upon to provide sensational goal tending again for the Flames this year if they look to get back in elite status of the Northwest Division and the Western Conference. Kiprusoff, who in his contract year will be looking for an increase in pay after this season, and with Dion Phaneuf still unsigned could this be his last year in Calgary?
The Flames will have a tough schedule this year, most teams in the division have improved. The Edmonton Oilers added power-forward Dustin Penner, the Avs added mullet man Ryan Smyth and Scott Hannan, Vancouver possesses Roberto Luongo and the Minnesota Wild with a healthy Marian Gaborik will be a test.
The Flames will improve on the road this year, and will continue to be one of the best teams at home in the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary. Jarome Iginla will have a career year, and other players will have their coming out party, look for the Flames to reach Western Conference supremacy in 2007/2008.