The Calgary Flames were one of the worst teams in the NHL last season, and thing don’t look like they will improve much in the near future. The Flames will kick off the 2013-14 season on Thursday against the Washington Capitals, and they need to be wary of a Capitals power play that converted three of six chances in a Tuesday night loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Flames were 14th in the league in penalty killing last season, but will feature a younger and less experienced roster than the one they started with when the lockout ended.
Karri Ramo is getting the start between the pipes, and it will be his first NHL game in more than four years. The Flames are hoping Ramo can help fill the void left by the retirement of Miikka Kiprusoff, and after a significant investment in him over the next two seasons ($5.8 million) they’ll see early on how he fares against one of the league’s best teams. Joey MacDonald will start the season as Ramo’s backup despite playing well last season when Kiprusoff was injured, and Reto Berra will start the season in the AHL but could be called up if injuries or poor performance open the door. Two goals from Mikhail Grabovski helped the Capitals power play on Tuesday, and captain Alex Ovechkin also converted with the man-advantage. Defenseman Mike Green quarterbacks this dangerous unit, and the Flames can help Ramo out big time in his debut by staying out of the box.