New sea­son, new goalies

Exit Brian El­liott and Chad John­son, en­ter Mike Smith and Ed­die Lack

Medicine Hat News - - SPORTS - DONNA SPENCER

CAL­GARY The Cal­gary Flames will spend train­ing camp ad­just­ing to new goal­tenders for a sec­ond year in a row.

De­fence­man Mike Stone is fa­mil­iar with one from their days as Ari­zona Coy­otes team­mates. He said the Flames will have to get their heads around Mike Smith’s propen­sity to leave the net and play the puck.

“We’re go­ing to have to un­der­stand he likes to get out and move the puck to you. Don’t go get it from him,” Stone ex­plained Thurs­day dur­ing phys­i­cal test­ing for train­ing camp.

“When I was in Ari­zona, I don’t think I went back and picked the puck up be­hind the net, ever. Go to the cor­ner. He’ll get it to you.”

Not only team­mates, but Flames fans will have to get used to an ac­tive start­ing goalie. “I’m sure there will be mo­ments when they’re not lik­ing what I’m do­ing out of my net, prob­a­bly yelling at me to get back in my net.” Smith said. Stone and Ed­die Lack re­place the tan­dem of Brian El­liott and Chad John­son, who spent just one sea­son in Cal­gary. In con­trast to last year’s train­ing camp, when the Flames jug­gled change and flux on mul­ti­ple fronts, adapt­ing to an­other duo in net is their one big chore to open 2017-18. The Flames aren’t deal­ing with a new coach­ing staff as they were in 2016, when head coach Glen Gu­lutzan and as­sis­tants Paul Jer­rard and Dave Cameron were in hurry-up mode im­ple­ment­ing sys­tems. All play­ers are signed and re­ported to camp in con­trast to a year ago when for­wards Johnny Gau­dreau, Michael Fro­lik and Mikael Back­lund were away for the World Cup of Hockey.

Gau­dreau also missed all of train­ing camp in a con­tract dis­pute.

Cap­tain Mark Gior­dano ex­pects a smooth tran­si­tion to Smith and Lack be­cause the Flames aren’t over­loaded with other changes.

“We know our sys­tem. We’ve got our sys­tem down,” the de­fence­man said. “Last year was sort of a com­bi­na­tion of ev­ery­thing new.

“With two, new great goalies com­ing in, we’ll game plan a lit­tle bit around Smitty be­ing able to play the puck so well.

“There’s a lot to learn, but we feel we’re ahead of last year for sure with know­ing the sys­tems, be­ing more fa­mil­iar with the coach­ing staff.”

El­liott was piv­otal in get­ting the Flames into last sea­son’s play­offs. But a few soft goals con­trib­uted to Cal­gary’s quick elim­i­na­tion in four straight games at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks.

So Flames gen­eral man­ager Brad Tre­liv­ing went shop­ping for yet an­other so­lu­tion in net.

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