Summers are all about optimism in the NHL. As the pain and disappointment fades from the previous season, teams around the league start shifting their attention to the upcoming year with a new sense of hope. The Calgary Flames fall squarely into the “optimistic” category heading into 2017-18 and have gone as far as to make their team goal for the new season public.
The Flames believe they’re a 100-point team. That’s according to head coach Glen Gulutzan who spoke with the Calgary Sun about his expectations.
“The challenge, for sure, is managing expectations. We weren’t a 5-10-1 team to start last year, and we weren’t a 16-5 team to end. We finished with 94 points. I think, realistically, we can do better than that. But to make a jump from 77 to 94 to 118 isn’t realistic. So we have to manage that expectation. Our goal is we think we could be a 100-point club. That’s kind of what I think a lot about in the summer — trying to manage that expectation but also have something in mind that we think we could be.”
The Flames may not have made a big dent in the playoffs last year, but they did jump from 77 points to 94 points which is pretty awesome. Now, they have their sights set on crossing the 100-point barrier. Is that realistic?
It’s worth noting that the Flames have had a bit of an up-and-down stretch over the past few years. Their past four seasons saw point totals of 77, 94, 77 and 97 points. That trend suggests they’re due for another relapse, but their roster looks capable of bucking that trend.
The Flames overhauled their goaltending this summer, bringing in Mike Smith and Eddie Lack. Those moves should upgrade one of the team’s most notable weaknesses. Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson were mostly average last year and there was definitely room for improvement.
The club also brought in some help on defense, trading with the New York Islanders for Travis Hamonic. At the cost of a few draft picks, the Flames bolstered an area that was already a source of strength.
Of course, the NHL is a league of unpredictability. No one really knows with any degree of certainty what’s going to happen. Isn’t that why we all watch? On paper, the Flames look like they’re capable of 100 points, but we’ll have to look back on this article in 2018 to see just how realistic Gulutzan’s expectations were.