It’s not nearly as exciting as, say, getting your name engraved on the Stanley Cup. It doesn’t get any better than that in this business.
Still, Nazem Kadri seemed quite happy to see his name in the home lineup on Wednesday.
The esteemed signing of the Calgary Flames – fresh off a title run with the Colorado Avalanche – donned his new jersey for the first time in a 4-0 pre-season win over the Edmonton Oilers at the Saddledome.
“It’s always fun when it’s playtime,” Kadri beamed after morning skating. “It’s just an opportunity to recharge. The last game was a pretty memorable one for me, so it’s nice to just get back into the rhythm and tighten up the routine. It’s hockey season again.”
While the new man at number 91 really needs no introduction, Kadri seemed determined to make a positive impression against the provincial rivals – or at least against their farm clubbers.
During the opening shift of the evening, he intercepted an exhaust passage near the attacking blue line and gave Blake Coleman a one-timer. That shot sailed high. Too bad, because that would have been hell.
“I thought he really had it,” said Kadri, who signed a $49 million seven-year contract at Cowtown and will be a fixture as a second-line center this season. “I think if he had just hit it…I’d have to see it again, but we definitely wanted to be aggressive from the gate and we almost pocketed a first team.”
Though he had to wait a little bit longer, 31-year-old Kadri eventually earned an assist on a court from defender MacKenzie Weegar, another of Calgary’s prized off-season additions. Weegar scored on a blocker-side wrister in the third.
“I think we can definitely be a little bit sharper, but hey, it’s the preparation for the season. You have to get the cobwebs out,” said Kadri, who made four shots in 15:36 Ice Age. “You’re just used to summer skating and now you’re really trying to get into the details. You shake off some rust. Nobody expects to be halfway through the season in September, so we just keep working on it and getting better every day.”
AROUND THE SHELVES
Weegar on his (unofficial) first snipe in the Flaming C: “It’s all about building that confidence. It’s a new team and when you get one, even in an exhibition game, it’s a good feeling and you just have to keep building on that.”… Workhorse netminder Jacob Markstrom barely broke a sweat on his first start of the fall. He only made a dozen shots in 40 minutes of work, and stopped them all. Markstrom’s best save came from Jake Virtanen, who tried to hit Johnny Gaudreau’s favorite target – top shelf on the short side. “Good to give him a few bouts to get him to work again. He was solid,” said Markstrom’s Flames coach Darryl Sutter. “I think he worked really hard all camp. He’s out early, stays late, puts in a lot of work”…Puck-stopping prospect Dustin Wolf completed the shutout and kicked aside nine tries in the third… Michael Stone has a cannon of a shot.You already knew that, but Stone—who attended training camp during a tryout while trying to maintain his role as Calgary’s seventh defender—sent a reminder with a second period howitzer. The puck had hit the back of the net and bounced off before Stuart Skinner, or anyone else in the building, had time to respond. “This is not a new position for me, so I play here like I know I can play,” Stone said of his latest tryout with the locals… Sutter’s son, Brett, is two-for-two, with a couple of goals in a couple of pre-season games The 35-year-old attacker, who has a rebound past Calvin Pickar d, will spend this season with the AHL’s Calgary Wranglers… Brett Sutter also assisted in Stone’s offense, and vice versa, while minor league’s Ilya Solovyov amassed a few helpers… Jonathan Huberdeau added a stylish empty netter dangling around a diving Jason Demers and a forehand for roof… Wednesday gave a first glimpse of the Flames’ top power play unit – Rasmus Andersson on the point and Huberdeau, Kadri, Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli swinging it round as forward… Lindholm has carried an ‘A’ in both of his spins so far. How long does it take for that to be permanent?
OF THE GLASS
Thanks to Wednesday’s victory in what a so-called “beauty tech analysis” called a battle between the NHL’s two brightest coaches, the Flames are now halfway through their exhibition slate. Four up, four to go… As Kadri’s new teammates talk about bringing it all, perhaps the biggest compliment is this comment from Connor McDavid. During the NHL media tour, McDavid told Sportsnet’s dynamic duo of Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek: “(Kadri) is absolutely annoying to play against. Would have loved to see him go to other places but he chose Calgary and it’s something we’re going to have to deal with”… McDavid and Leon Draisaitl stuck to the pre-season tradition of leaving your stars at home and both skipped the trip to Calgary about. . Don’t expect many of the Flames’ big men to head to Edmonton for Friday’s rematch either… The Saddledome stalwarts showed their appreciation after Weegar rushed back to spoil Warren Foegele’s break, taking the puck off his stick. -blade poked before he could try anything. Sutter had high praise for the acclaimed trade acquisition. “He’s a really good student of the game. He’s a very coachable player,” Sutter said of Weegar, 28. “He’s learning how we play, stuff like that, and he’s making progress in that. He’s a good player.” .. The Flames have reassigned Lucas Ciona, a young forward, to the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League.