The Calgary Flames are headed on a three-game roadie.
They’re travelling with three netminders.
Just before Thursday’s flight to Toronto, the Flames announced that prized puck-stopping prospect Dustin Wolf has been recalled from the AHL’s Calgary Wranglers. That transaction raised eyebrows, especially since goaltending has arguably been the least of the Flames’ worries so far this season.
It’s important to note Jacob Markstrom missed Wednesday’s practice for what was described by the team as ‘maintenance,’ a hint that the usual starter could be dealing with an injury of some sort. That would certainly explain the high goalies-to-games ratio for this trip.
Markstrom delivered another strong showing in Tuesday’s come-from-behind victory over the Nashville Predators. As long as he’s healthy, the 33-year-old seems like the obvious choice to be between the pipes for Friday’s matchup against Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and the Maple Leafs (5 p.m. MT, Sportsnet West/Sportsnet 960 The Fan).
However, if Markstrom would benefit from a couple of nights off, Dan Vladar and Wolf could wind up splitting a back-to-back set that continues with Saturday’s showdown with the Senators in Ottawa. If Wolf is tapped, it would mark his second career start at the highest level. He is 1-0 so far.
The 22-year-old Wolf has been waiting for another opportunity to prove that he is ready for primetime, that he deserves to graduate from goalie-of-the-future to part-of-the-present-plan. As he told Postmedia in early October: “I personally believe I’m ready to take on a role in the NHL, and I know that opportunity is going to come as long as I just keep doing my thing and playing the way I know how to play.”
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Wolf, the AHL’s reigning MVP, has picked up where he left off this fall, posting a 5-1-0 record, a 2.34 goals-against average and a. 924 save percentage in six starts with the Wranglers. He pitched a 27-save shutout last Friday against the San Jose Barracuda.
“He’s been great for us,” said Wranglers head coach Trent Cull after that 1-0 victory. “When we’ve needed him, he has always stood tall.”
Wolf would love to follow the lead of forwards Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil and defenceman Nick DeSimone, a trio of recent call-ups who have made a positive impact since joining the Flames. Zary and Pospisil both scored in their NHL debuts, while DeSimone is coming off his first multi-point performance on the biggest stage.
Wes Gilbertson and Danny Austin have been covering the Flames for years and know what makes the team tick. Have questions? They have the answers – or the contacts to track them down. Send your questions to email@example.com