After a 1-0-2 start to the season, the Flames have surprised more than a few people out of the gate so far.
Despite blowing multi-goal leads in two games and nearly doing so in the game they won against the Blue Jackets, the Flames have generated more shots and more offence than expected with veterans Mike Cammalleri and Matt Stajan still out of the lineup.
On the back end, however, reality has been closer to pre-season expectations. Weaknesses on the Flames' blueline and in net have been masked, to some degree, by the team's 12 goals through three games so far, but they're still there, and the team is still getting out-scored. Special teams have also been perhaps one of the more obvious weaknesses through three games. The Flames have scored just once on the powerplay while allowing three goals against while shorthanded.
Today, the Flames take one Montreal Canadiens, who are 1-1 so far this season after an opening day loss to the Leafs and a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night. The Habs have also had a few day's rest coming into this contest, so there could be some sloppy play on both side through the opening minutes tonight.
Bob Hartley will be going back to Joey MacDonald in net tonight, despite the loss to the Canucks which produced this gem of a save from the Flames' netminder. Hartley has also done some line shuffling ahead of tonight's contest, as it appears Ben Street, who made the team out of training camp after spending the majority of last season with the Abbotsford Heat, will start the game centering the Flames' first line. Oy.
As per Habs EOTP, Carey Price will counter for the Canadiens. Price has not fared well against the Flames in his career thus far, with only one win in four tries and 13 goals against. Montreal's lineup will be bolstered by the return of Max Pacioretty, who has been sitting out with a wrist injury, while Brian Gionta remains away from the team attending to a family matter.
Here are some other game-day links for your perusing pleasure:
Flames prospects John Gaudreau, Kenneth Agostino and Jon Gillies could all be candidates for NCAA hockey's Hobey Baker Award this season. [Flames]
An evaluation of the Flames through the early going. [Flame for Thought]
A closer look at Sean Monahan, who has been impressing just about everyone with two goals and three points through three games thus far. After tonight, the Flames will have five games left to evaluate him before they are forced to make a decision about whether or not they will send him back to the Ottawa 67s. [Calgary Herald]
The Habs' line of Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher needs a new name. [National Post]
Team Canada's new jerseys for the Sochi winter games: Yay or Nay? [Habs EOTP]
Speaking of jerseys, has the Flames' new third jersey design been leaked by EA Sports? [Flames Nation]
Game time tonight is 6 p.m. mountain, 8 p.m. eastern on TSN. See you all then!