Calgary Flames have a lot of time to think about the Winnipeg Jets

Calgary Flames have a lot of time to think about the Winnipeg Jets

CALGARY — The Calgary Flames’ first opponent if and when the NHL resumes is a team they saw once this season outside.

The Winnipeg Jets edged the Flames 2-1 in overtime Oct. 26 in the Heritage Classic outdoor game in Regina.

Bryan Little scored the winner at snowy, chilly Mosaic Stadium.

The NHL halting the regular season March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic meant the Jets didn’t travel to Calgary two days later and again March 31.

But the league’s relaunch plan pits the prairie-province clubs against each other in a best-of-five “play-in” round which would determine the 16 playoff teams.

Having potentially two months to prepare for an NHL opponent is unique.

“I don’t think we want to focus on Winnipeg so, so much that we’re frozen by it,” Flames head coach Geoff Ward said Wednesday during a conference call.

“We’ll do our due diligence on Winnipeg. We know who the opponent is now, but the most important thing we’re thinking about is how we’re going to prepare our team to play Winnipeg.”

When the NHL hit pause, Calgary (36-27-7) ranked third in Pacific Division four points back of the second-place Edmonton Oilers.

The Jets (37-32-8) were fourth in the Central and held down the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

“I think playing them late in the season would have probably been an advantage to both teams in terms of preparation,” Ward said.

“Obviously now we get to study Winnipeg a little bit more because we know they are our opponent. The most important thing for us is what are we going to do, let’s get to our game and what does that involve?

“How do we prepare ourselves the best to come out of the break and be playing our best hockey, when that first puck drops?”

Both Calgary and Winnipeg were eliminated in the first round of playoffs in 2019.

The Jets reached the Western Conference final in 2018 before bowing out to the Vegas Golden Knights.

The NHL going to conference matchups instead of divisional may have negated an early Battle of Alberta in the relaunch, although the league has yet to announce how playoff teams will be seeded.

The Flames could end up playing the Jets in Edmonton because the provincial capital is a candidate city for the NHL’s hub-city concept to complete the playoffs.

“It’ll be a lot less travel to get there,” Flames captain Mark Giordano acknowledged.

“We’re all expecting to have no fans in the building, so I don’t think it will be too much of an advantage either way.

“The big thing for us is how the seeding works. Home-ice advantage is still an advantage obviously for last (line) change and stuff like that.”

Ward, who took over as Calgary’s interim head coach in November when Bill Peters resigned, has some experience coaching an NHL team that wants to hit the ground running.

He was an assistant coach of the Boston Bruins during the lockout season of 2012-2013. The NHL didn’t resume until Jan. 6.

“There certainly are some parallels and some things you can draw on there,” Ward said.

“We need to understand there is a little of urgency coming out of this one just in terms of the first one being a best-of-five, just in terms of how long the players are going to have been off without really being able to skate.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2020.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

NHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

robbery
UPDATE: Shooting suspect arrested by Wetaskiwin/Camrose RCMP

Rimbey RCMP had responded to a complaint of an armed robbery at the Bluffton City General Store

Quality Inn & Suites in Rimbey. Photo Submitted
Rimbey hotel gets new lease on life

The Quality Inn & Suites in Rimbey is now open and taking bookings

Leanne Evans, Rimbey Neighbourhood Place Program Coordinator, accepts a donation of $5,000 from Kevin Maxwell manager of Field Support for Telus. (Photo Submitted)
Rimbey Neighbourhood Place making big changes behind the scenes

Rimbey Neighbourhood Place recently recieved a $5,000 donation from Telus

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it's highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta confirmed 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Central zone active cases at 145

Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, receive flu shot. Photo via Government of Alberta
COVID-19: One more death in central zone

Ponoka County on province’s watchlist

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.	Kenney is isolating at home after one of his ministers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta premier isolating after minister tests positive for COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is isolating at home

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Alberta's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday, July 6, 2020. Advisers are reportedly recommending Alberta's kindergarten to Grade 4 arts and social studies curriculum remove all references to residential schools because it's "too sad" for young children. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Advisers suggest Alberta students not learn about residential schools before Grade 4

Documents suggest children younger than Grade 4 are too emotionally vulnerable to learn about residential schools

File photo
RCMP’s response to online discussions about anti-racism demonstrations

Ponoka RCMP Staff Sgt.’s comments misattributed online

Shaelynn Decock and her dog Taco, who has been missing since Aug. 26. Photo Submitted
Sylvan Lake woman looking for closure for her stolen dog

Shaelynn Decock says it has been two months since she last saw her dog Taco

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau and his family decide against trick-or-treating this year due to COVID

Adhering to local health authorities, Trudeau urges Canadians to do their part in following those guidelines

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday February 4, 2020 in Ottawa. The Alberta government is welcoming news that Ottawa has approved an expansion of the Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. gathering system in Alberta — while condemning federal delays that it says cost this summer’s construction season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta welcomes federal approval of gas pipeline expansion while criticizing delay

The project is expected to create up to 2,920 direct jobs during construction, the federal release said

Most Read