SUN Hockey Pool

Pre-season win-win for Flames fans

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

A game in Winnipeg and clashes against the Phoenix Coyotes and Florida Panthers.

Not only will Calgary Flames fans see their division rivals less often in the regular season than they have in recent years, but that trend is carrying over into the pre-season, too.

The Flames' pre-season kicks off Sept. 23 when the Panthers come to town, then the team heads to Winnipeg for a game the next night against the Coyotes, the former Winnipeg Jets.

The Flames meet the Coyotes again Sept. 25 at the Saddledome and again face the Panthers the following night.

Their pre-season ends with games against division rivals in Edmonton Sept. 30 and Vancouver Oct. 1 before concluding with an Oct. 3 clash against the visiting Oilers.

It's something of a preview to the regular season.

This year, the Flames will meet their four divisional rivals, the Oilers, the Canucks, the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild, six times each -- down from eight as has been the case the last three seasons.

Now, teams will face all 15 clubs from the other conference and have three 'wildcard' games.

For the Flames, the Canucks and the Oilers, those wildcards are expected to be a second game every year against the Montreal Canadiens, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators.

For those who don't want to wait until September to get their hockey fix, the club's summer development camp will begin Monday at the Saddledome.

Thirty prospects, including first-round draft choices Leland Irving, Mikael Backlund and Greg Nemisz, are scheduled to be on hand.

The goalies are the only ones to hit the ice Monday, at 1:30 p.m., with sessions scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

All on-ice sessions are open to the public.


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