Former teammates who are now adversaries -- at least on the ice -- will be plentiful when the Calgary Flames play host to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.
When the Flames face off for their home opener, it will be with a trio of prominent former Canucks on their side, most notably starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom and defenseman Chris Tanev, but also forward Josh Leivo, who all joined Calgary as free agents in the offseason.
On the flipside, the Canucks have defenseman Travis Hamonic, who spent three seasons with Calgary before departing via free agency.
"It's going to be different, for sure, to see that jersey," Markstrom said. "But when the puck drops, it's my job to make sure the puck stays out of the net."
Tanev added, "I love all those guys, but I just want to win. I played with a lot of those guys for a long time."
The long-time rivals meet after dropping games in disappointing fashion Thursday night. The Flames opened the season with a 4-3 overtime loss at Winnipeg, a game in which they blew a 3-1 lead in the third period. The Canucks lost 5-2 in Edmonton one night after beating the Oilers 5-3 in their season opener.
Neither team was happy with the latest performance, so expect some extra oomph when the puck drops in the Saddledome.
For the Flames, it was how a game they dominated in the first period turned into a loss because they were outplayed by a wide margin after the opening frame.
"We got off our game," Calgary forward Elias Lindholm said. "The things that we did good in the first (period) were the things we didn't do in the second and third. We lost a lot of pucks at the (offensive) blue line and they're quick in transition. Overall, I don't think we played good enough to win."
The Canucks opened with a strong victory over the Oilers on Wednesday but were outclassed in the rematch by an Edmonton team much more focused and determined.
Then again, that may be a regular occurrence this season with teams playing so many two-game sets.
"Their team had a little bit more urgency in certain areas of the game that we talked about with our group," Canucks coach Travis Green said in the aftermath of the defeat. "There is going to be a lot of (that) this year when you play a team two or three times in a row. When you win, you can count on the other team raising their game the next game. We just didn't quite raise ours enough."
Not helping Vancouver's cause is being without J.T. Miller, who led the team in points last season while tying for the lead in goals. Elias Pettersson, who was Miller's linemate most of last season, has struggled to start the campaign, producing no goals and just one assist in two outings.
However, the Canucks know full well that those bumps in the road are to be expected over a season, even a shortened campaign, and good teams find ways to overcome and win consistently.
"The uniqueness of the same teams playing each other over and over again is it's going to be tough to make up points (in the standings)," Hamonic said. "You've got to ... be focused every night."
--Field Level Media
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