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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 4:35 PM

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

Iginla honored to have another All-Star opportunity

CALGARY – Less than a week after accomplishing the feat of 500 career goals, Jarome Iginla received yet another honor Thursday.

Iginla was announced as Calgary’s lone representative for the 2012 Tim Horton’s NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa on Jan. 29 at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.

It’s another achievement in the storied career of the Flames captain, who was excited to learn about his nomination.

“It feels good to be selected,” Iginla said, who has made five previous trips to the event. “I plan to be there. I look forward to it. I’ve been very fortunate and it’s been a fun year in some ways.”

With a team-leading 36 points and 501 career goals on his resume, Iginla may have seemed like a lock to represent the Flames at the event.

But Iginla noted he might not have been the only choice to represent Calgary, identifying teammates Curtis Glencross, Olli Jokinen and Miikka Kiprusoff as worthy nominees for the event as well.

Glencross has a team-leading 18 goals, while Jokinen’s 35 points are just one fewer than Iginla’s team lead. In net, Kiprusoff has put together 19 wins, a 2.49 goals against average and .915 save percentage.

“There definitely were other options,” Iginla said, who got the news minutes before meeting with the media Thursday. “[Glencross] is having a great year. Kipper is having another outstanding year for us. Olli’s been really good for us. I definitely wouldn’t have been offended at all. They could’ve easily have been there.”

The vote might have been swayed a little after Iginla scored his 500th goal on Jan. 7, becoming the 42nd player in league history to accomplish the feat and only one of three active players alongside Teemu Selanne and Jaromir Jagr to hit the milestone.

“It’s probably the highlight so far (this season), reaching 500 and being able to do it at home and I’m really appreciative of the fans and support,” Iginla said. “It was something that was pretty cool and I’ll remember.”

Iginla could receive the same support when he travels to Ottawa to skate alongside the NHL’s elite. Flames coach Brent Sutter was quick to point out that Iginla – the captain of a Canadian franchise – is set to travel to the nation’s capital for the spectacle.

“It’s obviously a tremendous honor for him,” Sutter said. “Just the fact having the opportunity to play and being hosted in Canada and Jarome playing on a Canadian team, it’s all a great fit.”

The thought of passing on the event never entered the mind of the 34-year-old.

Despite a hectic schedule, Iginla wasn’t about to skip on the opportunity of becoming an All-Star again. In fact, the face of the Flames franchise is planning on making it a family affair.

“At times, you say ‘oh if you could take a break’ but looking back, one day I’m going to be done, I’ll have lots of time to travel,” Iginla said. “They’re neat experiences and I’ll be able to take my family. The kids are getting bigger and know a little more what’s going on and we’ll have some fun. I’ve never taken them before.”
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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 2:42 PM

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

Boudreau mulls goalie options as Ducks visit Flames

With starting goaltender Jonas Hiller unlikely to start tonight's game against the Flames, Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said he has options.

Boudreau could opt with Jeff Deslauries, who was recalled Tuesday and stopped 26 shots in a 5-2 win over the Dallas Stars, his first victory since April 7, 2010.

Playing coy, Boudreau wouldn't announce his goaltending plans. Though he said it's possible Deslauries gets the nod, the Ducks coach reminded he still has Iiro Tarkki at his disposal as well.

"I probably would imagine but we'll see," Boudreau said. "We've got three of them. If Hiller's not playing I have the choice of the other two."

Boudreau's decision could come down to how Hiller responds to his lower-body injury in today's morning skate.

"I'm waiting for the report myself to see how he handles it out there today," Boudreau said. "If he handles it well he’ll probably back up tonight."

Boudreau will have Niklas Hagman in the lineup though. Hagman is making his return to Calgary after being placed on waivers and picked up by Anaheim in November.

"He's brought a lot of energy," Boudreau said. "He's played really hard. In the last 10 games especially he's starting to get rewarded for his efforts. He's really fit in well with the other two Finns and they've found chemistry. He's made some really, really good plays. He's a really good fit for our team."

Here's the projected lineup for the Ducks:
 
Bobby Ryan - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Niklas Hagman - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Jason Blake - Nick Bonino - Andrew Cogliano
Matt Beleskey - Rod Pelley - Kyle Palmieri

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Luca Sbisa - Lubomir Visnovsky
Toni Lydman - Sheldon Brookbank

Jeff Deslauriers
Iiro Tarkki
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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 2:24 PM

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

Giordano says he's ready to return to Flames' lineup

CALGARY -- After being sidelined for 21 consecutive games, Flames defenseman Mark Giordano will be a game-time decision for coach Brent Sutter as Calgary welcomes the Anaheim Ducks to the Scotiabank Saddledome.

But if you ask Giordano, he's ready to go.

"Hopefully I get in tonight and go from there," said Giordano, who has been on the injured reserve list since suffering a torn hamstring in a home contest against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 29. "I've been excited here the last week skating with the team and getting closer and closer."

Giordano isn't concerned about aggravating the hamstring he injured while catching a rut in the ice. In fact, he insists that if he does get back into the lineup, he'll be pain free.

"Right now, so far so good," Giordano said. "I haven't had any setbacks. I'm looking forward to getting into the game.

"There's no pain. The last three weeks have been pain-free, really, and it's just a matter getting back to game-type speed and getting my strength back."

The Flames could use Giordano's presence on the blue line. The team is already without defensemen Scott Hannan and Derek Smith. Both have played integral parts on the back end this season.

Hannan, who suffered an upper-body injury in a game against Boston on Jan. 5, has resumed skating as well and is considered day-to-day. Derek Smith has missed Calgary's last six games with a lower-body injury.

Tonight's projected lineup:

FLAMES

Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Lance Bouma - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak
Paul Byron - Blair Jones - Blake Comeau
Tom Kostopoulos - Roman Horak - Tim Jackman

T.J. Brodie - Cory Sarich
Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Anton Babchuk

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 2:38 PM

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

Volchenkov set to return for Devils

CALGARY -- The New Jersey Devils will get a boost on the back end, as injured defenseman Anton Volchenkov will be in the lineup tonight against the Calgary Flames.

Volchenkov, who left the first period of New Jersey's New Years Eve tilt against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a lower-body injury, said he is primed to get back on the ice.

"I'm ready to go, ready to play tonight," said Volchenkov, who has missed New Jersey's previous four games. "It feels pretty good. It's been one week. I feel it's been better. It's ready to go."

The Devils were expected to activate Volchenkov from injured reserve Tuesday afternoon. He was originally placed on the list Jan. 7, retroactive to Dec. 31. Volchenkov also missed three games from Dec. 10-13 with a hand injury and has played in 34 of the Devils' 41 games this season.

Travis Zajac, who is battling soreness to his left Achilles, will miss his fourth consecutive game. 

Here is the Devils' expected lineup:

Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Mattias Tedenby - Steven Zalewski - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - Nick Palmieri

Bryce Salvador - Adam Larsson
Mark Fayne - Henrik Tallinder
Kurtis Foster - Anton Volchenkov

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 1:40 PM

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

No 'Mo' as Flames set to battle Devils

CALGARY -- The infirmary is still full for the Calgary Flames.

With seven players still on the injured reserve list and forward Brendan Morrison not quite ready for a return, Calgary will roll with the same lineup from Saturday's 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.

"Status quo," Calgary coach Brent Sutter said.

Morrison originally thought he'd be ready to go for tonight's matchup against the New Jersey Devils, who drafted him in 1993 and with whom he broke into the League.

"I thought tonight might be a good chance, it's not quite there," Morrison said. "No, I won't play tonight, no. Maybe Thursday, we'll see."

Morrison is out with what the team is describing as an upper-body injury.

"It's progressing but it's not at the point where I can really battle yet, so there's no point in playing if you can't even engage guys," said a disappointed Morrison.

Frustration is mounting in the veteran of 921 career NHL games. Morrison has missed over a dozen of Calgary's 43 games this season between this injury and the lingering effects of knee surgery last year.

"Watching games? I'm sick of it, yeah, it's brutal," Morrison said. "You think it's such a small thing, but it just kind of lingers. You have to deal with it. What do you do? When you're watching you kind of feel helpless."

Tonight's projected lineup:

Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Lance Bouma - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak
Paul Byron - Blair Jones - Blake Comeau
Tom Kostopoulos - Roman Horak - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich
Clay Wilson - Anton Babchuk

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving
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Posted On Saturday, 01.07.2012 / 3:21 PM

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

Jones has fresh start in Calgary

It’s been a crazy 24 hours for Blair Jones.

Woken up by a call from Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman indicated he’d been traded to the Flames on Friday, Jones was on a plane bound for Calgary just two hours later.

Twenty-four hours after that, Jones was skating in his first game day skate with the ‘Flaming C’ on his chest.

“It was kind of weird yesterday morning,” said Jones, who will make his Flames debut Saturday against Minnesota. “I was sleeping in and woke up, Stevie was calling me and that was that. I woke up a little foggy and was like, ‘Oh.’ I didn’t know what to say. He said Calgary would be in touch with me shortly and two hours later I was on a plane.”

Flames captain Jarome Iginla did his best to welcome Jones into the Calgary locker room.

“We all introduced ourselves, go over everything as quickly as you can and it’s game time,” Iginla said. “It’s definitely a little different transition being in the middle of the season.”

Even the climate is changing on Jones, but going from the heat of Florida to the bitter winter of Alberta hasn’t soured Jones. In fact, he’s welcoming the change.

“This is a bit of a different look than in Tampa,” said Jones, who was acquired in exchange for defenseman Brendan Mikkelson. “I’m definitely excited being back in Canada where hockey is the No. 1 game.”

With Tampa Bay sitting 12th in the Eastern Conference sporting a 17-19-3 record, Jones knew something was going to happen soon. He just didn’t realize it would involve him.

“I thought with the way things were going there something was probably going to happen sooner or later but you never think it might be you,” Jones said. “It’s part of the game and I’m excited to be in Calgary.”

Though it’s an entirely new organization, Jones isn’t tasked with a new coach. The Central Butte, Saskatchewan native played under Flames coach Brent Sutter for three seasons as a member of the Western Hockey League’s Red Deer Rebels.

“He’s a big guy that was a good center iceman in junior hockey,” Sutter said of the team’s newest member. “He’s a big center iceman and we could use some size down the middle.”

That’s not all he brings, said Sutter, who faced Jones and the Lightning back on Dec. 15. Jones left an impression.

“When we played him in Tampa Bay here recently, the first five-to-10 minutes he had five big checks,” Sutter said. “He uses his size to his ability. It’s something we can use down the middle. He’s got good skills and good hands and a really good shot.”

He’s also got an opportunity.

With three forwards – David Moss, Matt Stajan and Alex Tanguay - on Calgary’s injured reserve list and Brendan Morrison out with an upper-body injury, Jones will get the chance to jump head-first into some playing time with Calgary.

“I’m excited,” Jones said. “Nervous too.”
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Posted On Saturday, 01.07.2012 / 3:13 PM

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

Wild lose Bouchard but welcome back Stoner

The Minnesota Wild will be without Pierre-Marc Bouchard as they look to right the ship Saturday night against the Flames in Calgary.

Bouchard suffered a lower-body injury in a 3-0 loss Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks.

“He’s not in, he’s going to be out today,” Wild coach Mike Yeo confirmed. “He’ll get re-evaluated when we get back to Minny.”

The loss is a big one for Minnesota. Bouchard sits fourth in team scoring with nine goals and 22 points this season.

Hoping to ease the pain of Bouchard’s absence is the return of defenseman Clayton Stoner, who was activated off injured reserve Friday and will be in the lineup against Calgary.

“The body is feeling good and I’m excited to get back up in the lineup,” Stoner said.

Stoner rejoins a Wild team that has won just once in its last 11 games after winning seven in a row.

“We’ve had a tough stretch where we’re not playing our best every night,” Stoner said. “If I can come in and be consistent and do whatever I can it’ll help the team.”

Though he’s been out of the lineup since Dec. 22, Stoner feels just as much a part of the losses as his teammates.

“It’s tough,” Stoner said. “You feel for them. You know what you’re going through. I still feel a part of it. Obviously it’d be nice if we won all those games but we didn’t and we’re just trying to build as a team.”

Here is the projected lineup for the Wild:

Dany HeatleyMikko KoivuDevin Setoguchi
Darroll PoweKyle BrodziakCal Clutterbuck
Casey WellmanMatt CullenNick Johnson
Colton GilliesWarren PetersBrad Staubitz

Marek ZidlickyNick Schultz
Jared SpurgeonMarco Scandella
Clayton StonerJustin Falk

Niklas Backstrom
Josh Harding
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Posted On Saturday, 01.07.2012 / 2:49 PM

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

More key players out for Flames against Wild

CALGARY -- If getting beat  9-0 by the Boston Bruins on Thursday wasn’t enough, the Calgary Flames also lost two key contributors.

Both Scott Hannan and Brendan Morrison will not be in the lineup for Calgary as the Flames take on the Minnesota Wild in their first home game since Dec. 22.

“They’re both dealing with upper-body injuries,” coach Brent Sutter said. “They are going to need some time. How long each guy will be will determine by how quickly they heal. You take two guys out of your lineup, but it gives two other guys opportunities. It is just part of it. You can’t do anything about it.”

Lance Bouma and newly acquired Blair Jones will have the opportunity to step into the lineup. Bouma was recalled Saturday morning, while Jones was acquired Friday in exchange for defenseman Brendan Mikkelson. Defenseman Clay Wilson will also make his season debut on the blue line.

Hannan joins Mark Giordano (hamstring), Matt Stajan (ankle), David Moss (ankle), Derek Smith (lower body), Henrik Karlsson (knee) and Alex Tanguay (upper body) on the injured reserve list.

“It’s definitely difficult, we have some key guys out,” captain Jarome Iginla said. “Teams go through that. We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves or make excuses. We have to win games. We just keep moving forward. Teams go through things they can’t control and injuries at different times. Hopefully some of the guys will get back sooner than later.”

Here is the projected lineup for the Flames:

Curtis GlencrossOlli JokinenJarome Iginla
Lee StempniakMikael BacklundLance Bouma
Paul ByronBlair JonesBlake Comeau
Tom KostopoulosRoman HorakTim Jackman

Jay BouwmeesterChris Butler
T.J. Brodie – Anton Babchuk
Clay WilsonCory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving
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Posted On Friday, 01.06.2012 / 12:40 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Zibanejad calls his own shot

CALGARY -- Mika Zibanejad had a feeling when he woke up this morning that today was going to be a big day for him. He was right.

Zibanejad scored the only goal of the gold medal game 10:09 into overtime, giving Sweden a 1-0 victory against Russian for its first World Junior Championship in 31 years.

The Ottawa Senators prospect picked up a loose puck near the red line, busted down right wing, cut in front of Russian goaltender Andrei Makarov and went forehand-to-backhand to lift Sweden to the win and 18,722 spectators at the Scotiabank Saddledome to their feet.

It was a proclamation he made to teammate Jeremy Boyce Rotevall -- twice.

"He told me this morning he was going to finish this game off," Boyce Rotevall said.

Zibanejad, the sixth player taken in the 2011 NHL Draft, confirmed that fact with a gold medal around his neck and a big smile on his face.

"I told him before the overtime, too," he said. "This morning was a joke, but it's not a joke anymore. It was good to get that goal. You have to decide you want to win this."

Sweden's last title came in 1981, 12 years before Zibanejad was born.

"We haven't won in 31 years so I mean, it's wonderful to win now," he said.

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Posted On Friday, 01.06.2012 / 12:34 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Friberg leads WJC All-Star team

CALGARY -- Max Friberg of Sweden will head home with a little something extra to go along with his gold medal.

Friberg was one of six players named to the World Junior Championship All-Star Team as selected by the media.

Too busy celebrating Sweden's first gold medal at the event since 1981, Friberg wasn't even aware of the honor. During interviews after Sweden's 1-0 OT win against Russia in Thursday's gold medal game, he was more enamored with the reward dangling around his neck.

"Thank you very much, but this is what's really important, this is what matters the most," Friberg said, pointing to his gold medal. "Of course, I'm happy that (the media) liked my game. "But (gold) is what really matters."

Russia's Yevgeni Kuznetsov was also named to the team along with Finland's Mikael Granlund. Defensemen Oscar Klefbom (Sweden) and Brandon Gormley (Canada) and goaltender Petr Mrazek (Czech Republic) rounded out the team.

Though Russia came up a goal short in the gold medal game, the media named Kuznetsov as the tournament's most valuable player.

Kuznetsov was also named the tournament's best forward as selected by the championship directorate. Gormley and Mrazek were cited as the top defenseman and goalie, respectively.

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Quote of the Day

Because of the way they play and their skill set I don't think they're fourth-line players, so in my mind I'm looking at one of those guys I'll have to move over to the wing.

— Capitals coach Barry Trotz on his four-player battle for second-line center