It can’t be easy for NHLers to come up with bold proclamations to better themselves, as the ones the rest of us make aren’t applicable. Eric Francis has come up with a few for a number of Flames as we turn the calendar to 2024.
CALGARY — Nazem Kadri didn’t hesitate when asked early Sunday what his New Year’s Resolution was.
“To win more, that’s it,” said the Calgary Flames veteran.
Several hours before midnight he got a head start on his annual aspirations by scoring late in a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.
In a wild finish that saw the Flyers score twice with their goalie pulled, Blake Coleman capped his 500th NHL outing with the game-winner into an empty net.
That was confirmed when the biggest roar of the night came following the announcement Huberdeau had snapped a 12-game pointless streak with a sweet setup of a Dennis Gilbert snipe.
Plenty of positive vibes to end a tumultuous 2023 for the club.
Which brings us back to resolutions for the year ahead.
It can’t be easy for NHLers to come up with bold proclamations to better themselves, as the ones the rest of us make (go to the gym more, eat better, quit smoking) aren’t applicable.
With that in mind, we’ve taken the liberty of coming up with a few for a number of Flames as we turn the calendar to 2024:
Jonathan Huberdeau: Leave the past behind.
Going 18 games without a goal would be hard for any top-six forward to swallow, let alone a former superstar being paid to be in his prime.
Somehow, some way, he needs to figure this out. Sunday’s game was a big step forward, but many more are required.
Connor Zary: Stick with what’s been working.
The poise and production this 22-year-old has exhibited a mere 26 games into his NHL career have made him the team’s biggest and most pleasant surprise so far this year. Keep it up young man and you’ll be in the conversation as a Calder finalist.
MacKenzie Weegar: Don’t change a thing.
Of the three principles in the Matthew Tkachuk trade, he’s having the best season by far, with eight goals and 20 points. He’s on pace to shatter career bests while playing great defensively. Keep in mind, it was on New Year’s Eve a year ago he celebrated his first of the season. If only he could teach his pal Huby how to get similarly assimilated.
Yegor Sharangovich: Focus on consistency.
Averaging a point a game over the last three weeks, the young man acquired for Tyler Toffoli has emerged as a significant offensive threat after a slow start.
Big question is whether he can keep it up.
Both are in a contract year and almost certainly destined to be traded in the next month or two. Best way to ensure they go to a top contender, who may also want to extend them, is to play the best hockey they can while awaiting their fate.
Dan Vladar: See above.
He needs to keep tuning out the noise involved in the inevitable trade rumours sure to emerge involving several contenders in search of goalies. His play of late has been encouraging, which is key to him being a desirable trade bait.
Chris Tanev: Stop blocking shots with your face.
Yes, his selfless, warrior-like approach to the game is what makes him such an enticing add for contenders. But if he’s not healthy before the trade deadline the organization won’t be able to cash in.
Craig Conroy: Steal a deal.
What better way to establish yourself as a GM than by being on the winning side of a whopper in your rookie season? With Lindholm, Hanifin and Tanev in demand, he certainly has the ammunition to land a handful of significant assets.
Matt Coronato: Be patient.
Understand that this stint in the minors, while not what he had envisioned, will make him a better player in the long run.
Dustin Wolf: (See Coronato.)
He’s proven throughout his NHL cameos he is ready to be an NHLer.
The hockey world knows it. The organization just has to decide when it’s best to make room for him to start a full-time gig in the bigs. The city can hardly wait.
Jakob Pelletier: (See Coronato and Wolf.)
Rehab isn’t much fun, especially when there’s so much opportunity and excitement awaiting his return from season-opening shoulder surgery. When he does get back in a month or so, he needs to continue bringing his energy and enthusiasm while building on the promise he showed last year.
Flames Fans: Brace for, and accept, change.
With the assets Conroy is likely to swap out in the name of youthful retooling, the organization is facing a once-in-decades opportunity to reshape the core on their own terms. It’s a good thing.
Oh, and one other message to the fans: Happy New Year!