Flames pic

Backhand Shelf’s previews for the 2013-14 NHL season are going to work like a choose your own adventure novel, because fans only hear what they want to hear anyway, so we might as well embrace it.

You’ll get the flippant barstool prediction, the push-the-glasses-up-your-nose numbers take, the team is going to be good take, the team is going to be bad take, and then we’ll try to bring it back full circle at the bottom. Let’s get to it.

Click here for the previews you may have missed.


Added:David Jones, TJ Galiardi, Kris Russell, Shane O’Brien, Karri Ramo
Subtracted: Miikka Kiprusoff, Alex Tanguay, Roman Cervenka, Anton Babchuk, Cory Sarich

The Flames are going to be good

The Flames are going to sneak up on teams with all their young talent and speed. Sven Baertschi is a star waiting to happen who teased a point-per-game in the American League last year, and is ready to take the next step. Mike Camalleri is a fitness nut who’s going to operate at the same level for years, and the Flames could stir in youngsters like Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund. Trot those speedsters out there in front of rock solid defenders like Mark Giordano, Dennis Wideman and the underrated T.J. Brodie and you’re laughing. If Kari Ramo can be who they think he can, the Flames could be the surprise team of the year.

The Flames are going to be bad

Uggghhhh, I just lied to you for an entire paragraph, good (hockey) God the Flames are going to be awful. Their top-six is headlined by a guy who hasn’t exceeded 50 points since 2008-09 (Camalleri), and it only gets more bleak from there. Hudler, Jones, Stajan, Stempniak…I mean, these are top-six names, remember. They have four goalies fighting for the starting job because they don’t have one who’s, y’know, good. They’re trotting out guys like Shane O’Brien, Chris Butler and Kris Russel to protect them. And any good young talent they have is like, nine years old and not ready to have a huge positive effect. So y’know, good luck with that.

Flippant barstool prediction

It would not shock me if this was the worst team in hockey this season.

The numbers:

The Flames actually weren’t that atrocious offensively, scoring 2.67 goals-per-game in the 2013, but that doesn’t help you very much when you’re giving up 3.27 a night (28th overall). And actually, it would be hard to see them scoring that much again given they only generated the 25th-most shots-per-game in the league (26.9). Also not a good sign: they got absolutely killed 5-on-5 (their goals for/against ratio was 0.68, 29th overall). At least their special teams are middle of the pack-ish?

Okay, but seriously:

They basically need for things to go perfectly. They need a couple kids to exceed expectations, they need everyone to stay totally healthy, and they need a goalie to exceed expectations as well. They need Mark Giordano to give them 25 solid minutes a night, and hope Brodie can, you guessed it, exceed expectations. I don’t know why I picked Brodie. I’m reaching here.

Basically, they need everyone to be better than they are. This should go well.

Your NHL.com preview:

Check it out here.