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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 2:44 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Czech mates set for Calgary debut

CALGARY, Alberta – Jiri Hudler and Roman Cervenka will both make their debut with the Calgary Flames Saturday in this season's first installment of the "Battle Of Alberta."

Hudler left training camp and missed the opening three games of the season for Calgary after tending to the passing of his father, Jiri Hudler Sr., in the Czech Republic.

Cervenka missed training camp with issues relating to a blood clot. After seeing a hematology expert at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, the Czech forward has been cleared to play and is ready to be inserted in the lineup against the Oilers for his first career National Hockey League game.

"He’s confident and good for him," Hudler said of his teammate and countryman. "He’s got his big day. We took a picture having breakfast this morning, his first game-day breakfast. It’s nice."

Though he's no stranger to NHL action, the game will hold special significance for Hudler, too. Saturday's match will mark the 29-year-old’s first in a Flames uniform after signing a four-year, $16-million contract in July.

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Posted On Monday, 01.21.2013 / 4:15 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Fowler makes debut for Ducks in Calgary

CALGARY -- Fresh off a 7-3 season-opening win against the Vancouver Canucks, the Anaheim Ducks aren't expected to make many changes to their lineup for Monday's game against the Calgary Flames.

"You win and coaches have a tendency to keep the same lineup," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said.

The only expected change to Anaheim's roster will feature Cam Fowler joining the lineup after missing Saturday's game with the flu. He is expected to take the place of Jordan Hendry.

Here is the lineup the Ducks likely will use Monday night:

Kyle Palmieri - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Bobby Ryan - Nick Bonino - Teemu Selanne

Andrew Cogliano - Saku Koivu - Daniel Winnik

Matt Beleskey - Rickard Rakell - Devante Smith-Pelly

Francois Beauchemin - Toni Lydman

Cam Fowler - Bryan Allen

Luca Sbisa - Sheldon Souray

Jonas Hiller

Viktor Fasth

Injured: Sami Vatanen

Scratched: Jordan Hendry, Peter Holland, Brad Staubitz

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Posted On Monday, 01.21.2013 / 4:07 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Jones, Brodie expected to make season debut

CALGARY -- Blair Jones and TJ Brodie are expected to make their season debut as the Calgary Flames host the Anaheim Ducks Monday.

Both players were healthy scratches in Calgary's home opener, a 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

"I've been looking forward to the start of the season for a long time so for me, personally, it's a big deal," Jones said.

Jones, who had four points in 21 games for the Flames after being acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning in a trade in January, was disappointed to sit out Sunday.

"It's a pretty tough pill to swallow but it's really out of my control," he said. "I'm just going to worry about what I can do and that's play a hard game tonight."

Here’s how the Flames' lineup will likely look Monday night:

Curtis Glencross - Alex Tanguay - Jarome Iginla

Sven Baertschi - Mikael Backlund - Mike Cammalleri

Roman Horak - Matt Stajan - Lee Stempniak

Blake Comeau - Blair Jones - Tim Jackman

Mark Giordano - Jay Bouwmeester

Chris Butler - Dennis Wideman

TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff

Leland Irving

Injured: Anton Babchuk, Roman Cervenka

Scratched: Steve Begin, Derek Smith

Bereavement: Jiri Hudler

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Posted On Sunday, 01.20.2013 / 1:41 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Flames to start without two key forwards

CALGARY – The Calgary Flames are expected to start the season without two key offseason acquisitions.

Forwards Jiri Hudler and Roman Cervenka will both miss Calgary’s season opener.

Hudler, whose father passed away earlier this week, is attending to family matters in the Czech Republic. There is no scheduled return for his timetable. The 29-year-old was signed to a four-year, $16-million deal last July.

The 27-year-old Cervenka is out indefinitely because of anticoagulant medication he’s taking after the presence of a blood clot. While the clot is no longer an issue, Cervenka will see a hematology specialist before making his debut. When he’s deemed able to come off the medication, Cervenka will be cleared to skate.

When he does return, Cervenka will make his North American introduction after spending his entire career in Europe. The 5-foot-11 forward is expected to slot into a top-six role when he is cleared.

The team will also be without defenseman Anton Babchuk, who missed training camp with an injured shoulder.

Curtis GlencrossAlex TanguayJarome Iginla

Sven BaertschiMikael Backlund – Michael Cammalleri

Roman HorakMatt StajanLee Stempniak

Tim JackmanSteve BeginBlake Comeau

Mark GiordanoJay Bouwmeester

Chris ButlerDennis Wideman

Derek SmithCory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff

Leland Irving

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Posted On Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 2:48 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Canucks playing for top seed, Flames for pride

CALGARY -- It's pride versus the Presidents' Trophy when the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks collide at the Scotiabank Saddleomde Thursday.
 
While the Canucks staring down the League lead, the Flames are simply left to play out their remaining two games of the season.
 
But there is something left on the line for Calgary, according to coach Brent Sutter.
 
"There is, plain and simple, it is something you better have inside of you to have the pride to go out there for the front of the jersey and for our fans, for our ownership group, for the people that support this team so loyal and for themselves," Sutter said. "You shouldn't have to beg individuals to do that. You should have it internally inside you."
 
Alex Tanguay and David Moss may have already had their last opportunity to display that pride.
 
After missing practice earlier in the week, neither will skate in the game with the Canucks. With another game Saturday afternoon against the Anaheim Ducks, Sutter suggested the pair have already played their last games of the season.
 
"Neither of them are playing [tonight]," Sutter said. "Again, it’s day-to-day but you've got to assume that with it being less than 48 hours until the next game after tonight, if they're not playing tonight there's a chance neither one of them will be playing Saturday either."
 
Instead of Tanguay and Moss, the Flames will showcase Akim Aliu, who is set to make his National Hockey League debut 19 days shy of his 23rd birthday.
 
"It's unbelievable," Aliu said. "It's a dream come true. I'm really exited. Sometimes you think this day will never come, but when it does come it's that much more special."
 
The Canucks do not have any players making their debut, but there's still plenty to play for throughout the lineup.
 
Vancouver is tied with the New York Rangers heading into Game 81 with 109 points with home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs on the line. The Canucks are also just two points up on the St. Louis Blues for the Western Conference lead.

"It's hugely important," said Cory Schneider, who will start against the Flames. "You look at some of those teams and their home records, teams like St. Louis, Detroit, Nashville, Chicago, they're pretty unbeatable at home. If it comes down to a Game 7 in your building, that makes a huge difference.
 
"We still have something to play for. We're not taking anything lightly."
 
Byron Bitz, recalled yesterday to replace Zack Kassian, knows the importance of the two points.
 
"The team does have a lot of expectations and playoffs are right around the corner," he said. "It's an exciting time of year and I'm very happy to get a chance here."
 
Here are tonight's projected lineups:
 
FLAMES

Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Michael Cammalleri - Matt Stajan - Akim Aliu
Blake Comeau - Blair Jones - Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos - Lance Bouma - Tim Jackman
 
Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Cory Sarich
Scott Hannan - Anton Babchuk
 
Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson

CANUCKS
Alexandre Burrows - Henrik Sedin - Maxim Lapierre
Mason Raymond - Ryan Kesler - David Booth
Chris Higgins - Samuel Pahlsson - Jannik Hansen
Andrew Ebbett - Manny Malhotra - Byron Bitz
 
Alexander Edler - Dan Hamhuis
Marc-Andre Gragnani - Christopher Tanev
Aaron Rome - Sami Salo
 
Cory Schneider
Roberto Luongo
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Posted On Friday, 03.30.2012 / 2:48 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

College-style elimination faces Flames, Avalanche

CALGARY -- The Western Conference playoff race has been nothing short of madness in March.
 
For a few teams, it's starting have the feel of the Frozen Four, too.
 
With the collective lives of the Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames on the line in Friday's meeting, the game has the feel of the collegiate-style one-and-done tournament format. A win keeps either club alive. A loss buries any hope of an extended season.
 
The concept is all too familiar to former college players in both locker rooms.
 
"It's kind of that scenario," said David Moss, who spent four years at the University of Michigan. "Right now we have to win our games and Colorado is in the same situation. It's pretty easy to see that if either of us lose a game here that's the end of it."
 
Michael Cammalleri, a Michigan teammate of Moss in 2001-02, felt the same.
 
"For the college guys it was like that," Cammalleri said. "Our NCAA experience is one and done. I guess it makes it more tournament-style that way, for sure."
 
Though it's Boston College, Minnesota, Union and Ferris State competing in the 2012 Frozen Four in Tampa Bay next week, the Colorado Avalanche feel as though they're a part of it already.
 
With 86 points and just three games remaining, the Avalanche can ill afford to come away with anything but six points, according to Chuck Kobasew.
 
"It's do-or-die for us," the Boston College alum said. "Both teams know they're in a tough situation either way and we have no choice but to win out from here."
 
Flames defenseman Chris Butler is hoping to help Calgary avoid the latter portion of Kobasew's assessment, something he wasn't able to do at the University of Denver.
 
"We never had a lot of success in college tournaments," he said. "We only made the tournament one year and we lost the first game to Wisconsin. I hope it's not a similar outcome."
 
The Flames, 11th in the Western Conference, must win all four of their remaining games to have a hope at the playoffs. They've accomplished that feat just twice through 78 games this season -- meaning they'll be facing four consecutive elimination games starting with Friday's contest against Colorado.
 
"It's more or less a do-or-die situation," Butler said. "We know that realistically we need to win every game, but you can't look at it as you have to string four games together because that's extremely difficult in the League.
 
"We have four one-game series that we need to win. Our mindset is one at a time."
 
Any losses along the way for either club will leave both teams out in the cold, on the outside looking in when the Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway.
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Posted On Friday, 03.30.2012 / 2:34 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Avalanche rookie Barrie ready for key role vs. Flames

CALGARY -- Tyson Barrie is getting some serious on-the-job training.
 
The 20-year-old Colorado Avalanche defenseman will suit up for just his eighth game of the season Friday night against the Calgary Flames in a do-or-die game that will either end or prolong the hopes of making the playoffs in a wild Western Conference race.
 
"It's pretty crazy," said Barrie, who is still searching for his first NHL point. "It's definitely exciting. I haven't played too many games, but I'm feeling more comfortable as we go. It's exciting stuff."
 
Avalanche coach Joe Sacco is hoping Barrie can provide some punch to an offense that has produced just eight goals in its last five games. Four of those contests have been losses. He's opted to insert Barrie to jump start production in place of Ryan Wilson.
 
"He's really played on his toes when he's been in our lineup," Sacco said. "He's been a difference-maker creating a lot of scoring chances for our team, and I'll expect the same thing here tonight. Just give us some good energy and help us offensively from the back end."
 
In his first professional season after spending four years with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL, Barrie could be settling in when Colorado needs the rookie the most.
 
"It's cool, but I'm settling down a little bit," Barrie said. "I know the first few games I couldn't even stickhandle I was so nervous. Now I'm settling in and feel good.
 
"It is tough, but all the guys are good. They keep me loose in the room. My d-partner Shane O'Brien, he's real good at that stuff. He keeps me loose. He's a great guy and he makes it easy for me out there."
 
The confines of the Scotiabank Saddledome have been kind to Barrie. As a member of the Rockets, Barrie's work in Calgary's rink helped earn a WHL Championship.
 
"We played the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL final and we beat them," Barrie said. "I've played here a few times and I have some great memories in this barn."
 
Barrie is hoping to help the Avalanche build a few more.
 
Here's tonight's projected lineup:
 
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Steve Downy
Jamie McGinn - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Peter Mueller - Matt Duchene - Mark Olver
Cody McLeod - Jay McClemment - Milan Hejduk
 
Matt Hunwick - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Shane O'Brien - Tyson Barrie
 
Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere
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Posted On Friday, 03.30.2012 / 1:44 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Flames will have Sarich for must-win against Avs

CALGARY -- In what Brent Sutter called the Calgary Flames' most important game of the season to date, the coach will have one of his most veteran defenders back in the lineup Friday night.
 
Cory Sarich, who missed four games with an upper-body injury after a collision with David Jones of the Colorado Avalanche, will return to the lineup against the same team he last played against.
 
"I'm feeling really good," Sarich said. "The last three days I've felt like myself. I've felt normal. Skates have been normal. I'm excited to go out there and play."
 
With the Flames currently sitting 11th in a wild Western Conference race and their season hanging in the balance, Sutter is happy to have Sarich at his disposal.
 
"It's huge," Sutter said. "The way Cory had been playing, taking a presence like that out of your back end has definitely affected us in certain areas, so it's nice to have him back in our lineup."
 
The magnitude of the game isn't lost on Sarich, who watched his team win just one game in his absence, pushing Calgary's season to the brink.
 
"They've all been important here the last who knows how long," he said. "It makes it easy for myself to get up for this game, and you just try to go out there and fit right in."
 
In order to accommodate Sarich, the club had to return defenseman Clay Wilson to the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League. Wilson was up on an emergency basis to fill in for Sarich.
 
Here's the projected lineup tonight for the Flames:

Alex Tanguay - Michael Cammalleri - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - David Moss
Lee Stempniak - Matt Stajan - Blake Comeau
Tom Kostopoulos - Blair Jones - Tim Jackman
 
Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
Anton Babchuk - Cory Sarich
 
Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson
 
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Posted On Wednesday, 03.28.2012 / 3:30 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sutter vs. Sutter takes back seat to playoff race

CALGARY -- With both the Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames fighting for their respective playoff lives, the brothers become a mere footnote.
 
Though Darryl Sutter is manning the Kings' bench opposite Brent Sutter's Flames, the siblings aren't the focal point with both clubs just a point apart in the highly-contested Western Conference playoff chase.
 
"They're intense, they're physical, they're brothers," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. "Now it's beyond that. The season is coming down to this. We've played 77 games up to now. This is a very, very important game. No one has even talked about Darryl being on the other side. This is just about beating the Kings tonight and jumping them in the standings."
 
Los Angeles has a one-point advantage over Calgary and holds a game at hand. A win for either team significantly increases their chances in surviving the wild West playoff hunt.
 
"This is just about winning and trying to get into the playoffs and trying to jump them in the standings," Iginla said. "It's nothing personal. This is just about the game and us working to get a win."
 
The contest is as much a must-win as it can get without mathematically eliminating either team. That fact isn't lost on Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.
 
"I think we obviously want to win that game for Darryl because it's the battle of the brothers, but we're looking at it as a must-win game," he said. "We're battling for a playoff spot right now, and that's all that matters."
 
Meaning the Sutter brothers will have to take a back seat with a critical two points on the line for both the Kings and Flames.
 
"It is what it is and we understand that, but that being said, they're fighting for the same thing we want and that's the magnitude of the game," Brent said.
 
"This is Kings and Flames. It's not about Darryl and I at all. Neither of us looks at it that way and never have."
 
Even though one Sutter has the opportunity to put the other's playoff chances on life support.
 
 
 
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Posted On Wednesday, 03.28.2012 / 3:10 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Kings focused on regaining playoff seed with win

CALGARY -- The Los Angeles Kings are well aware of their position in the Western Conference playoff race.
 
But they're not willing to look behind them when they face the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome -- a team the Kings hold a one-point advantage over with a game at hand in the wild West.
 
"We're fully aware of that," defenseman Drew Doughty said. "We're not too worried about where they are. We just have to worry about ourselves. No matter who we're playing, we have to win every night at this point of the season. Tonight's pretty much a four-point game. It's a must-win game."
 
Anze Kopitar couldn't disagree with Doughty.
 
"It's not just the damage we can do, it can set ourselves up for a good finish," he said. "It's obviously a big game for both clubs. It's going to be an emotional, high intensity game."
 
Coach Darryl Sutter isn't worried so much about the team across the ice as earning the victory and the two points that come with it.
 
"It's two points," Sutter said. "Again, it's really important for everybody. There's the top teams, then there's the teams that have a chance of winning a division, then there's a bunch of guys fighting for seventh and eighth place. Either you're seventh or eighth, or you're not. It's pretty simple."
 
Though the Flames are nipping at their heels, Kopitar said there is no extra motivation to all but bury the Flames by handing them a loss this late in the season.
 
"This time of the year, you really don't need it," he said. "Every game is like a playoff game. It's obviously really nice if you can separate yourself from the other teams, and that's what we're trying to do tonight."
 
Doughty hopes the Kings can show a little more.
 
"There's no doubt in our minds that we're a better team than them and we just have to show that," he said. "We have to come out hard in the first period, take it to them and let them know we're going to be the hardest-working team out there."
 
And if they're successful, the ninth-place Kings will find themselves back in a playoff position.

Here's the projected lineup for the Kings:
 
Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Dustin Penner - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Jordan Nolan
 
Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene
 
Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
 
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