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POSTED ON Friday, 03.09.2012 / 3:03 PM

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

Flames get first look at Jets

CALGARY -- It's been nearly 16 years since the old Winnipeg Jets made their last visit to the Scotiabank Saddledome.
 
So understandably, when the Calgary Flames host the new version of the Jets on Friday night, tickets are at a premium -- even for players, according to Olli Jokinen.
 
"Team service guy Sean (O'Brien) sent us a text message last night that we have to put our ticket orders in today at 10 o'clock," Jokinen said. "That never happens. I guess it's a pretty hot ticket tonight."
 
Which means the 'Dome could be rocking, and not necessarily in favor of the Flames. With that in mind, defenseman Cory Sarich isn't about to give Winnipeg any help.
 
"I had a few Jets fans coming out of the woodworks seeing if I can get them a couple tickets," Sarich said. "Well, if they're cheering for that team then they're paying for tickets."
 
All joking aside, the Flames universally agree it's great to see the storied city get a team back in the National Hockey League.
 
"It's great," Jokinen said. "It's good to see them back on the hockey map and it's good to see them do well. They're playing in a market where people actually know about hockey and care about hockey."
 
But Jokinen warned that the Flames, who are in the thick of the Western Conference playoff chase, aren't about to give the Jets a warm welcome in Calgary.
 
"This is just a game for us at the end of the day," he said. "All that matters is to get two points. We're at the point of the season we can't really worry about who we play against. The biggest thing for us is to play our game and do things right and stick with our team structure and get two points and move on."
 
Here's the Flames projected lineup:
 
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - David Moss
Alex Tanguay - Matt Stajan - Jarome Iginla
Sven Baertschi - Greg Nemisz - Tom Kostopoulos
Guillaume Desbiens - Roman Horak - Krys Kolanos
 
Derek Smith - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich
 
Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson
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POSTED ON Friday, 03.09.2012 / 2:37 PM

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

Jets hoping for home-ice advantage in Calgary

CALGARY -- At home, they're nearly unbeatable.
 
But on the road, the Winnipeg Jets have failed to find the winning formula.
 
One of the reasons the Jets have compiled a 21-10-4 record at the MTS Centre is the boisterous crowd that has pushed them to be one of hockey’s best home teams.
 
Facing the Calgary Flames on the second half of a two-game road swing, the Jets are hoping they can use crowds on the road to their advantage as well as they push for a playoff berth.
 
"Our fans are a passionate bunch and they seem to be in all the Canadian rinks and a few of the American rinks, too, and you can definitely hear it when they're there," Tanner Glass said. "I think they're trying to get our road record up a bit, because they sure help us at home."
 
Just 11-18-4 on the road, the Jets will rely on a boisterous bunch in Calgary to simulate a home atmosphere. They may just find it in Alberta.
 
"My understanding is that some people have left Winnipeg to come west and we've run into them in Vancouver and now we're in Calgary, so the support seems to be everywhere, we just have to visualize we're at home," coach Claude Noel said.
 
With eight of their remaining 14 games away from Winnipeg, the ninth-place Jets need to remedy their road woes in a hurry.
 
"We have more road games than home, so we're going to have to find a way to do it," said goaltender Chris Mason, who confirmed he will be backing up Ondrej Pavelec in Calgary.
 
"It's definitely been tough on the road for us," he said. "At home we've done well and really fed off the crowd. We get that support on the road as well. It's harder to win on the road, and that means details are that much more important. That's something going down the stretch we're going to have to pay huge attention to."
 
Upping the road record could be the difference between playing in the playoffs and ending the season early.
 
"For us, we're looking at it as a new time," Noel said. "Closing down the end of these last eight games, if we can get to .500 or a game over that I think we'll be happy with that."
 
Here's the Jets' projected lineup:

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Tim Stapleton - Nik Antropov - Antti Miettinen
 
Dustin Byfuglien - Tobias Enstrom
Ron Hainsey - Grant Clitsome
Mark Stuart - Randy Jones
 
Ondrej Pavalec
Chris Mason
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 5:26 PM

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

Flames recall junior Baertschi on emergency basis

CALGARY -- It's been a sensational week for Calgary Flames prospect Sven Baertschi.

Two days removed from earning Western Hockey League player of the week honors after collecting 8 goals and 10 points in four games, the Flames' first-round pick was summoned to the big club on Wednesday.

With injuries piling up -- most recently to Tim Jackman in Tuesday's 5-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens -- the Flames summoned Baertschi, the 13th pick in 2011, on an emergency recall from the Portland Winterhawks.

"Sven had an impressive training camp with us this year and legitimately could have been part of our opening night roster," Flames general manager Jay Feaster said in a statement. "We elected to send him back to Portland prior to the start of the season because we did not project him spending the entire season in Calgary. In light of the way Sven has performed this season in the WHL, and given our current injury situation, we feel Sven is the right player to be recalled to Calgary at this time."

The Flames were able to recall Baertschi from junior based on an agreement between the NHL and CHL that states if a team is on its third emergency situation, the club can recall a player from major junior.

With a trio already recalled from the AHL's Abbotsford Heat in Greg Nemisz, Krys Kolanos and Guillaume Desbiens, Featser opted with the 19-year-old Baertschi.

"It's a honor," Baertschi told the Flames' website. "I'm really grateful."

Baertschi is expected to make his NHL debut Friday when the Flames host the Winnipeg Jets. He has 33 goals and 94 points in 47 games this season to lead the WHL in points-per-game. In 113 career games at the junior level, Baertschi has 179 points.
 
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 3:20 PM

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

Cammalleri sidelined; Flames call up three from Heat

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames believed they were getting the right guys back from injury just in the nick of time for a playoff push.

It turns out the sick bay at the Scotiabank Saddledome was just going through a reorganization.

After seeing Curtis Glencross, Derek Smith and David Moss all return to the club in a span of a week in late February, the injured reserve list quickly filled back up in March with the likes of Blake Comeau and Lance Bouma. Though not listed on IR, the Flames added Michael Cammalleri to the list of walking wounded.

Diagnosed with what the team is calling an upper-body injury, Cammalleri will not be at Calgary's disposal Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens.

"It's amazing how many injuries we have had this year, but there's nothing you can do about it," captain Jarome Iginla said. "We've hung in there, and we plan on doing that and plan on making it. Unfortunately, we've had our share but we keep going. We need to win games, 16 left."

The rash of injuries has prompted the Flames to call up three members of the Abbotsford Heat in one dramatic swoop. Krys Kolanos, Greg Nemisz and Guillaume Desbiens, who have combined for 14 games with the Flames already this season, will comprise a line as Calgary hopes to end a five-game losing streak on home ice.

"That's why you have to have depth in your organization where can come in and step up and play," Glencross said.

The Abbotsford three are poised to do just that.

"The stakes are super high, and we know that," Desbiens said. "We can't afford to lose any points for the playoff race. It makes it a little more stressful, but it makes it so much more fun. It's the time of year you want to play."

Kolanos agreed.

"It's a critical situation and it makes me take it to another level and makes me that much more ready to embrace the challenge," he said.

The urgency isn’t lost on Nemisz, either.

"There's no time for us to feel it out," he said. "We've all been up here already, so we have to go out there and play our game."

All Flames coach Brent Sutter can ask of the three, who were summoned from the American Hockey League yesterday, is to simply bring it.

"They've been here before," Sutter said. "They've been through the situation and the importance of the games. I just want them to go out there and play like they can and give us what they can give us. We need them to be good for us."

Here's the projected lineup for the Flames:

Alex Tanguay - Matt Stajan - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - David Moss
Tom Kostopoulos - Roman Horak - Tim Jackman
Greg Nemisz - Krys Kolanos - Guillaume Desbiens

Mark Giordano - Derek Smith
Jay Bouwmeester - Cory Sarich
Cory Sarich - TJ Brodie

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 3:12 PM

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

Bourque faces Flames for first time since trade

CALGARY -- Forgive Rene Bourque if it feels a little weird to be in the visitor's dressing room at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The longtime Calgary Flames forward makes his long-anticipated return to the rink for the first time since being dealt to the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 12.

"It's different," Bourque said in advance of Tuesday's game against his former club. "You come to the rink, and getting dressed in the visitor locker room for the first time in four years, it's a different feeling, but I'm excited to play tonight."

Bourque was part of a swap that brought Michael Cammalleri to the Flames. Though admitting to not being fluent in French at the time of the trade, adjusting to life in Montreal hasn't been too stressful.

"I haven't been playing as good as I'd like to be, but as far as fitting in with the team and getting used to the city -- I love living there. It's been a good change so far," he said.

And how has Bourque's French progressed?

"Not as much as I'd like, but it's coming slowly," he said, leaving the biggest change he's encountered to on-ice activities.
 
"It's Montreal," he said. "It's the Mecca of hockey. The fans are crazy."

While he’s still learning what to expect out of Habs fans back in Montreal, Bourque is a little more uncertain the reception he’ll get from the Flames faithful in his first tour of duty back in Alberta.

"I don't think it'll be anything crazy," he said. "I don't think I'll be booed, hopefully not. It happens all the time, fans are used to it. We'll see what happens."

The 6-foot-2 product of Lac La Biche, Alberta, might find it stranger lining up against his friends for the first time.

"I talk to a lot of guys. Mostly texting," Bourque said. "I have a lot of good friends on the other side, so I hope they do well."

But not well enough to beat the Canadiens.

"There's nothing better that I'd like to do than beat my old team," Bourque said.

Jarome Iginla, who captained Bourque for his 249 games in a Flames jersey, is looking forward to catching up with his former teammate on the ice.

"It's always unique and a little bit different, especially the first time you face ex-teammates and friends you've played with for a while," Iginla said. "I imagine it'll be different for him. It is different seeing a guy you've played with for a long time and battled with; now you're battling against."

Which may have Bourque feeling a little strange in the Saddledome for the first time in his career.

Here's the projected lineup for the Canadiens:

Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Louis Leblanc - Tomas Plekanec - Rene Bourque
Blake Geoffrion - Lars Eller - Ryan White
Andreas Engqvist - Petteri Nokelainen - Brad Staubitz

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin - Yannick Weber
Tomas Kaberle - Chris Campoli

Carey Price
Peter Budaj


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POSTED ON Sunday, 03.04.2012 / 4:44 PM

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

Flames' Comeau out with upper-body injury

CALGARY -- Though the Calgary Flames have welcomed back Curtis Glencross, David Moss and Derek Smith to the lineup, their injury woes continue.

Forward Blake Comeau is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Comeau originally suffered the injury in Calgary's 3-2 loss against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.

As a result of Comeau's injury, the Flames are expected to go with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen, meaning Anton Babchuk will see his first action since Jan. 17. Babchuk has been a healthy scratch for 18 consecutive games.

Here is the Flames' projected lineup:

Alex Tanguay - Michael Cammalleri - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - David Moss
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman
Lance Bouma - Roman Horak

Derek Smith - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich
Anton Babchuk

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson

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POSTED ON Sunday, 03.04.2012 / 1:36 PM

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

Finns clash in key game for Dallas, Flames

Trailing the Dallas Stars by just four points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Calgary Flames will turn to Miikka Kiprusoff when the two teams meet Sunday afternoon.

In a rare day off, Kiprusoff watched from the bench as the Flames dropped a 3-2 contest to the Anaheim Ducks Friday.

Kiprusoff is enjoying one of his best seasons on record, posting a 28-19-7 with a 2.35 goals against average and .921 save percentage in 56 games.

He'll have to be at his best to counter Kari Lehtonen. The Dallas goaltender has an identical save percentage to Kiprusoff, while his 2.30 goals-against edges his Finnish counterpart.

With points at a premium as teams enter the playoff push, both will be at their best.

CALGARY FLAMES

Alex Tanguay - Michael Cammalleri - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - David Moss
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Blake Comeau
Lance Bouma - Roman Horak - Tim Jackman

Derek Smith - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson

DALLAS STARS

Loui Eriksson - Mike Ribiero - Michael Ryder
Steve Ott - Jamie Benn - Adam Burish
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Ryan Garbutt - Tom Wandell - Tomas Vincour

Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Alex Goligoski - Philip Larsen
Mark Fistric - Trevor Daley

Kari Lehtonen
Richard Bachman
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POSTED ON Monday, 02.27.2012 / 8:43 PM

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

No trades by Flames, but Jackman signs


CALGARY -- Though he didn't make a trade on deadline day, Jay Feaster wasn't idle.

Instead, the Calgary Flames general manager took the opportunity to sign rugged forward Tim Jackman to a two-year contract despite inquiries on his status from other teams.

"It's a big relief," said Jackman, who will earn $612,500 for each of the next two seasons. "It's good to know that they want me around and that I get to stay in Calgary for two more years. I love playing here, so it's a great honor and I'm excited."

Signing just before the deadline, Jackman admitted he was worried he could be moved before Monday's 3 p.m. ET deadline.

"It was a stressful day," he said. "I had a few phone calls, talking to my agent. I talked to Jay. I finally figured out how everything was going to work out. It was a little stressful, but now we get to get ready for tonight (against St. Louis).

"It is a boost of confidence for me. For one, for them to say that they want me and to keep me around for two years and then the other that teams were interested in me. It feels good and I'm excited about it."

Moving him was a possibility Feaster said, adding Jackman's greater value comes with him wearing a Flames' jersey.

"There were enough teams that were nibbling at that," Feaster said. "Candidly, we didn't feel that anyone offered us something that was of a greater value to us – whether it's now or in the future – compared to his value to us down the stretch."

In the end, Feaster was pleased with his only transaction of the day.

"Getting him signed, we're happy about that. We think it's a good deal for both of us and he's an important guy in that room and a very popular teammate."
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POSTED ON Monday, 02.27.2012 / 4:22 PM

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

Projected lineups for Blues, Flames

CALGARY -- The St. Louis Blues aren't about to mess with success.

Fourth in the NHL with 83 points, the Blues were inactive during the trade deadline and will have their roster intact for tonight’s contest against the Calgary Flames.

Meanwhile, the Calgary Flames remained idle as well, and so this is how the lineups project for tonight's meeting at the Scotiabank Saddledome:

BLUES
Andy McDonaldDavid BackesT.J. Oshie
Vladimir Sobotka - Patrik Berglund - David Perron
Chris Porter - Jason Arnott - Chris Stewart
B.J. Crombeen - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kent Huskins - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott

FLAMES

Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Alex Tanguay - Michael Cammalleri - Blake Comeau
Lance Bouma - Matt Stajan - Tom Kostopoulos
Guillaume Desbiens - Roman Horak - Tim Jackman

Derek Smith - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson

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POSTED ON Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 3:14 PM

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

New Flyers working on fitting in

Though the trade deadline looms Monday, the Philadelphia Flyers have already worked on assimilating their newest additions into the lineup.

Defensemen Pavel Kubina and Nicklas Grossman have been forced to adapt quickly after being recently acquired by the Flyers, who are in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference.

“Everything is new,” said Kubina, who will protect projected starter Ilya Bryzgalov Saturday night against Calgary. “New team, new system. You’ve just got to work on it. It’s a little different style then we’ve played in Tampa. You’ve got to learn quick.”

The biggest adjustment may be mental for Kubina. Previously a member of the 12th-place Tampa Bay Lightning, the 6-foot-4 defenseman now has the playoffs directly in his crosshairs.

“It’s always good to have a chance and be in the playoffs,” Kubina said. “I remember we won a Stanley Cup in Tampa, we made it to the playoffs the next year after that but I wasn’t in for five, six years after. It’s always special to have a chance to be in the playoffs.”

Adjusting to new partners won't be a problem for current Flyers defensemen. They’ve been forced to do it all season, Matt Carle said.

“With all the injuries we’ve had this year it seems like you’re always playing with a new partner,” Carle said. “That’s the one positive. It’s helped to make these adjustments when bringing new guys in. We’ve had our fair share of new faces on the back end so it’s nothing new for us to bring someone new into our d-core.”

Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette likes what he sees out of his two newest additions that combine for almost 13 feet and nearly 500 pounds between them.

“They’ve been good,” he said. “They’re big units back there – both of them. They’ve done a pretty good job since being here trying to put some size back there behind our forwards and in front of our goaltender and clear things out in front of our net.”

Here's the Flyers' projected lineup:

Scott HartnellClaude GirouxWayne Simmonds
Danny BriereMatt ReadJaromir Jagr
James van RiemsdykBrayden SchennJakub Voracek
Eric Wellwood – Max Talbot – Jody Shelley

Kimmo TimonenBraydon Coburn
Matt CarlePavel Kubina
Nicklas GrossmanAndrej Meszaros

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky
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Playing for my favorite team growing up, I've probably scored that goal a million times in my driveway. It feels good to actually do it in real life.

— Dale Weise, who grew up a Canadiens fan, on scoring the overtime winner in Montreal's 5-4 victory against Tampa Bay in Game 1