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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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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 1:54 PM

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

Flames turn to Desbiens for energy boost

In order to inject a little life into their club against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night, the Calgary Flames have turned to Guillaume Desbiens.

A rough-and-tumble forward recalled yesterday from the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat, Desbiens will make his Flames debut against the Broad Street Bullies.

It’s the perfect situation for his debut.

“They’re a physical team and I’m a physical player,” said Desbiens, who has 13 points with the Heat this season. “It’s going to be a good match for me and the kind of game I like to play in. I’m not going to change anything. I’m going to forecheck, be physical and try to bring some energy and try to spend some time in the offensive zone. If I can do that, I’ll be happy with my game.”

Lance Bouma, a fellow call-up from Abbotsford, thinks it’s the right situation for his teammate.

“That’s the type of player he is,” Bouma said. “He’s a big, strong guy who uses his body well. He’s not afraid to drop the gloves. He’s not shy with that at all. It’s a big game for him coming in.”

Coach Brent Sutter, whose Flames have shown little in the way of emotion in back-to-back losses to the Edmonton Oilers and Phoenix Coyotes earlier in the week, hopes Desbiens can provide that spark.

“He’s a big, strong guy who plays with emotion, plays with his heart on his sleeve,” Sutter said. “He’s going to bang, crash, go hard to the net. He’s not a real high-end skilled guy. It gives him an opportunity and gives us an opportunity to see where he’s at.”

Emotion shouldn’t be difficult to find for Desbiens, who has 102 penalty minutes in 51 games this season in the AHL.

“It’s a good time of the year,” he said. “Stakes are high. The team is doing pretty good so we’re hoping to make a final push for the playoffs. The stakes are really high. When you’re younger you dream about these games.

Here's the Flames' projected lineup:

Jarome IginlaOlli JokinenCurtis Glencross
Alex TanguayMichael CammalleriBlake Comeau
Guillaume DesbiensRoman HorakTim Jackman
Lance BoumaMatt StajanTom Kostopoulos

Jay BouwmeesterDerek Smith
Mark GiordanoScott Hannan
TJ BrodieCory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson
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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 2:49 PM

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

Vermette excited for Phoenix debut

It won’t take long for Antoine Vermette to get acquainted with his new teammates.

One day after being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a pair of draft picks and goaltender Curtis McElhinney, Vermette is expected to be in the lineup Thursday night against the Calgary Flames

It has been a whirlwind 24 hours to say the least.

“It’s been crazy,” Vermette said. “I got the phone call and since then, I’ve been running around. I grabbed my stuff, my equipment, my luggage. I lost my luggage so I didn’t know if I’d have my stuff today. I’m glad I have everything back. It was one of those days running around.”

Lost luggage would have been a small price to pay for Vermette’s move. With the trade, he jumps from a last-place Blue Jackets squad to a Coyotes team in the thick of a playoff chase. Phoenix currently holds down the seventh spot in the Western Conference.

“This is really an exciting moment for me, being a part of a team in this position that is playing for a real purpose like that,” Vermette said. “It’s a great situation. You want to be in those situations and play in those important games. Here I have a chance to do it.”

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett likes the enthusiasm he’s seen out of his newest recruit.

“It’s the identity of our group,” Tippett said. “`We’re a group that has to play well together, has to depend on everyone to contribute for us to have success. We felt like he’d be a good fit on our team.
“I think he’ll fit in our group very well.”

Vermette hopes so too, and figures the change to Tippett’s system shouldn’t be too troubling.

“It’s a pretty simple game at the end of the day,” Vermette said. “From team-to-team, there are a few tweaks here and there, but for the most part you’re playing with good players and guys at this level know what to do.”

The bigger adjustment for Vermette might come with getting used to passing the puck to players in Phoenix’s brick red, as well as breaking in some new equipment.

“My pants feel a little tight,” Vermette said. “They’re brand new. I’m going to have to break them in.”

Here are the projected lineup for the Coyotes:

Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Lauri Korpikoski - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan
Raffi Torres - Daymond Langkow - Mikkel Boedker
Paul Bissonnette - Matt Watkins - Boyd Gordon

Keith Yandle - Adrian Aucoin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michal Rozsival
Michael Stone - Chris Summers

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 1:38 PM

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

Flames to add offense with return of Glencross

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames are expected to welcome back a big piece of their offense Thursday night when they host the Phoenix Coyotes.

Forward Curtis Glencross, who has missed 13 games with a knee injury, could return alongside Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginla as the Flames make their playoff push.

"I feel pretty good and hopefully I get the nod," Glencross said. "The biggest thing is we don't know for sure what's going on. It's a game-time decision for the coaches. For me, it's just keeping it simple and get the feet back underneath me and try not to do anything out of the ordinary and get pucks on the net."

Only Iginla's 23 goals are more than what Glencross has contributed to the Flames this season despite missing the last five weeks of action. Both he and Jokinen have found the back of the net 18 times this year.

"Offensively, until he got hurt, he was having a career year," coach Brent Sutter said. "(But) it's the other things -- speed, killing penalties, we can use him on the power play -- there are different variables in Glennie's game that helps the team and helps the team have success."

Defenseman Derek Smith could also return to the lineup tonight after missing 22 games with a high ankle sprain. Smith, like Glencross, will be a game-time decision.

"It's definitely something I've been looking forward to the last eight weeks," Smith said. "I feel good. It's a coaches decision, it's a game-time decision, but as of right now I feel ready to go."

It's not all good news for the Flames.

Though they were handed an embarrassing 6-1 defeat at the hands of the provincial-rival Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, the bigger loss might have come with defenseman Chris Butler.

Racing back to cover an odd-man rush, Butler plowed into goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, cutting his leg in the process. He’s expected out three weeks.

Here's the Flames' projected lineup for tonight:

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

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

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 2:44 PM

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

Nugent-Hopkins will miss latest Battle of Alberta

CALGARY -- If the Edmonton Oilers hope to put an end to a pair of lengthy losing streaks at the hands of the Calgary Flames, they'll do so without Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Still bothered by a shoulder injury suffered Feb. 6 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nugent-Hopkins isn't ready to return.

"There's no discussion on that right now," associate coach Ralph Krueger said. "He's not 100 percent and he will not play unless he is 100 percent."

The Flames have won nine straight 'Battle of Alberta' contests and 10 consecutive on home ice. Calgary's winning streak over the Oilers at the Scotiabank Saddledome is the longest home streak against any opponent for the Flames.

"Lately they've really taken it to us," Krueger said. "They've played well of late. They're really looking like a playoff team at the moment, so we know we need to bring our 'A' game today irrelevant of the series so far. It's Calgary playing probably its best hockey.

"They have to win and we want to win. The pressure is definitely in their court."

In the crease, Devan Dubnyk is expected to get the start. Nikolai Khabibulan suffered a groin injury in Edmonton's 5-2 loss against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday and is expected to be out for 7-10 days. The Oilers have called up Yann Danis to serve as Dubnyk's backup.

Here's the projected lineup for the Oilers:

Taylor Hall - Sam Gagner - Jordan Eberle
Magnus Paajarvi - Shawn Horcoff - Ales Hemsky
Ryan Smyth - Eric Belanger - Ben Eager
Darcy Hordichuk - Anton Lander - Lennart Petrell

Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Ryan Whitney - Tom Gilbert
Corey Potter - Andy Sutton

Devan Dubnyk
Yann Danis
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 2:14 PM

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

Help on the way for Flames

CALGARY -- With the Calgary Flames holding the slightest of edges in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, help is on the way.

While forward Curtis Glencross and defenseman Derek Smith will not be at coach Brent Sutter's disposal tonight against the Edmonton Oilers, their returns are nearing. Both took part in Calgary's morning skate.

"Whenever you can start getting your group of guys that have been on your team for a while and a big part of your success, getting these guys back on the ice and skating with the group is huge," Sutter said.

Glencross, who hopes to be back in the lineup sometime next week, said it was a relief to be back amongst his teammates on the ice.

"It not only feels better to just go skate with the guys, but better on your mind, too," he said.

The two remain on the injured reserve list alongside Mikael Backlund, Blair Jones, Lee Stempniak and David Moss. Most are expected back in early March -- just after the trade deadline.

"Any team out there that has injuries that haven't been participating with the team for a while and you're getting them back around the trade deadline or shortly thereafter, those are some of the best trades you can make," Sutter said. "It's cliché but it's true."

Here's the projected lineup for the Flames:

Alex Tanguay - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Tom Kostopoulos - Michael Cammalleri - Blake Comeau
Lance Bouma - Roman Horak - Krys Kolanos
Paul Byron - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 3:00 PM

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

Ankle injury lands Gunnarsson on injured reserve

CALGARY -- The news isn't as bad as coach Ron Wilson feared, but that doesn't mean the Toronto Maple Leafs will have the services of defenseman Carl Gunnarsson against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night.

Expected out for about a week, Gunnarsson was placed on injured reserve.

"He's got a slightly sprained ankle," Wilson said. "We figure he'll miss about a week, so we put him on IR. It's not bad, it's not a high ankle sprain like we feared. It's in the lower part of his foot. Today he feels much better, so we brought up Keith Aulie as a recall while he recuperates."

Aulie was summoned from the Toronto Marlies, but it is expected that Mike Komisarek will draw into the lineup. Komisarek has been scratched for Toronto's last six games.

"We're fortunate that we have a player like Mike, and hopefully he can shake off the rust because he hasn't played in a couple weeks and get the job done for us," Wilson said.

Komisarek will be playing in front of Jonas Gustavsson, who came on in relief of James Reimer in the Maple Leafs 5-0 defeat at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens Saturday. After three straight losses, Gustavsson is hoping he can put Toronto back in the win column.

"We lost a few in a row here and we need to get back to winning, and the sooner we can do that the better," he said.

Wilson said he only needs one thing out of his starting goaltender.

"Saves, simple as that," Wilson said. "That's what I expect. Any coach will tell you that is what you need. You need saves, timely saves, a save or two that can rob the other team and can build confidence for your team."

Here is the projected lineup for the Maple Leafs:

Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Tim Connolly
Nikolai Kulemin - Matthew Lombardi - Joey Crabb
Mike Brown - David Steckel - Darryl Boyce

Dion Phaneuf - Jake Gardiner
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
Luke Schenn - Mike Komisarek

Jonas Gustavsson
James Reimer
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Quote of the Day

I watched many times this year the series between the Russians and Canada in 1972, and he was a dominating player there. After I watched the tapes, I respect him a lot more because he turned the series around. He was the guy. In that time, he was the best in the world. It’s a big honor for me to tie him.

— Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr on scoring the 717th goal of his career to tie Phil Esposito for fifth on the NHL's all-time goals list after a 4-3 win vs. the Lightning on Sunday