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Posted On Friday, 04.11.2014 / 2:56 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames proud of recent accomplishments on home ice

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames hope to finish above .500 on home ice when hosting the Winnipeg Jets in their Scotiabank Saddledome finale on Friday.

"I think that would be a huge testament to the identity we've been working to create all year," said forward Kevin Westgarth, whose Flames sit 26th overall in the NHL and have long been out of the Stanley Cup Playoff picture. "Obviously we've had a lot of downs but a lot of ups as well, and to finish the season the way we have I think would be a huge plus going forward for next year."

The Flames, who conclude their 2013-14 season Sunday in Vancouver, have gone 12-4-0 at home since dropping a franchise record seven straight games at the Saddledome from Dec. 27-Jan. 16. They've outscored opponents 58-42 during their recent run.

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 3:20 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Kings trying to stay sharp heading into postseason

CALGARY -- With three games remaining in the regular-season schedule, the Los Angeles Kings are in limbo.

Having clinched third place in the Pacific Division and unable to move up or down regardless of the outcome of their final games, the Kings await their first-round opponent when the puck drops on the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But there are still plenty of reasons to play, according to forward Justin Williams.

"It's where you learn how to be a professional," said Williams, whose Kings open a set of back-to-back games in Alberta against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday. "It's all about professionalism and finishing off the right way. You have to be playing good hockey coming into the postseason. It's not a switch as many like to think that you can just flip on come playoff time. You have to be trending in the right direction, and these last three games are important for us."

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Posted On Friday, 03.28.2014 / 3:28 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Rangers trying to maintain focus against Flames

CALGARY -- With an eye on the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference standings, the New York Rangers kick off a four-game road trip against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday.

The Rangers, riding a five-game winning streak, sit second in the division, three points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers hold two games in hand.

"We need to push each other and we need to continue playing well because teams are winning around us," Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. "Everyone is playing desperate hockey right now, and now is the time to just put it all out there. We only have eight games to go. It was a challenging start for us at the start of the year, but I think the second half we've been playing a lot better and the results have been there."

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.26.2014 / 2:55 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Ducks aiming higher after clinching playoff spot

CALGARY -- The Anaheim Ducks clinched a second consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff appearance to little fanfare.

Their sights are set higher.

The Ducks, who kick off a three-game Western Canadian road trip against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, trail the San Jose Sharks by four points but hold three games at hand in the race for a Pacific Division title.

"We're disappointed we didn't clinch it sooner," said Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, whose Ducks clinched after the Dallas Stars lost 4-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. "We haven't played well the last 15 games. You take the previous 55 games and you'd think that we would've clinched it sooner. Nobody said anything today [about clinching].

"I don't want to sound like we're bragging, but we should be in the playoffs from what our first 55 games were. Hopefully we're just not going to get into the playoffs. Hopefully we're going to win the division and do some damage."

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Posted On Monday, 03.24.2014 / 3:25 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sharks can clinch; McLellan wants focus on Flames

CALGARY -- The San Jose Sharks hope to clinch a 10th consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff berth when they play the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday.

The Sharks need a single point against the Flames to earn their way in.

San Jose would also clinch if: the Phoenix Coyotes lose to the New York Rangers in regulation; the Winnipeg Jets defeat the Dallas Stars in regulation; or both the Coyotes and Stars lose in overtime or a shootout.

"You like to see that little 'x' beside your name in the standings," Sharks forward Patrick Marleau said. "We need to play well, but we also need to get that next win to get that."

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Posted On Friday, 03.21.2014 / 3:45 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames' Agostino, Predators' Jarnkrok set for debuts

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators will get a chance to glimpse parts of their respective futures when Flames forward Kenny Agostino and Predators forward Calle Jarnkrok make their NHL debuts Friday at Scotiabank Saddledome.

"I'm feeling great. I'm excited," said Agostino, who capped his career at Yale University with 14 goals and 32 points in 33 games. "I'd be lying if I said I probably won't have some nerves that first shift. Everyone's been telling me, the coaches, players, it's just hockey. Have fun. Enjoy it."

After his four-year collegiate career with Yale ended last week, Agostino signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Flames on Monday.

He joined the team Tuesday and has spent the week practicing with the club in an attempt to bring the 22-year-old up to speed to face the Predators.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.18.2014 / 3:39 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sabres' Lieuwen makes first start in familiar territory

CALGARY -- Buffalo Sabres goaltender Nathan Lieuwen should feel right at home at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Lieuwen will make his first NHL start Tuesday against the Calgary Flames in the same building he made his junior debut for the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League as a 16-year-old almost seven years ago. The 6-foot-5, 186-pound goalie played his first junior game with the Ice against the Calgary Hitmen, stopping 28 of 33 shots in a 5-1 loss Sept. 24, 2007.

He'll look for a more favorable first start with the Sabres.

"This is a great place [for him]," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "He sees the Hitmen here. He's played in this rink before. He's played in the West before. It's a good place to have his NHL debut as a starter."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.18.2014 / 3:17 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames' Stajan eager to return after personal tragedy

CALGARY -- Calgary Flames center Matt Stajan is ready to take a step forward.

The Flames will welcome Stajan back into the lineup Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres after he missed the past eight games to be with his wife, Katie, following the loss of newborn son Emerson on March 3.

"Obviously you realize what the most important things are in life, and that's family," Stajan said following practice Monday, his first with teammates since leaving the club. "This is like my second family coming here. Everybody's been so great and helpful.

"Going on the ice, it's a nice place for any player to get skating and clear the mind. It's been refreshing the last couple days on my own skating. And to get back on the ice skating, it's another step. It's exciting for me to move forward here.

"I want to play. You've got to keep taking steps forward. I want to get right back into game action. That's what hockey players want to do. That's the plan and I'm excited to get right back at it."

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.12.2014 / 3:44 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames' Glencross to return against Ducks

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames will have forward Curtis Glencross in the lineup when they play the Anaheim Ducks at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday.

Glencross hasn't played since sustaining a high ankle sprain in the first minute of a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 21, a span of 29 games.

"Anytime you come back you want to start right back up where you left off," Glencross said. "Things were just starting to get rolling again when I got hurt there in Pittsburgh. Hopefully it doesn't take too long to get back the timing. Hopefully we can get the bugs out of the way early and hopefully get better and better as we go on."

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Posted On Monday, 03.10.2014 / 3:39 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Kings hope to keep momentum going in Calgary

CALGARY -- The Los Angeles Kings hope to keep their post-Olympic roll going when they visit the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday.

The Kings have won seven straight dating to their final game prior to the Olympic break, the fourth-longest stretch in club history and longest since establishing a new franchise mark at nine from Jan. 21-Feb. 6, 2010.

"I think we're just back playing with confidence," said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. "We had a little bit of a down slope right before the Olympics. The guys really took it upon themselves to turn things around. We were drifting out of a playoff spot. We need to get back into that. We know how good this team can be when we do get into the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs."

The stingy Kings have allowed 10 goals during the streak. More surprisingly, Los Angeles has had an offensive outburst, finding the back of the net 22 times during the run.

The spike in offense, much like the Kings' turnaround, isn't much of a surprise to coach Darryl Sutter.

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Posted On Friday, 03.07.2014 / 2:56 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wotherspoon latest Flames player to make NHL debut

CALGARY -- As Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley said, one's misfortune is another's opportunity.

With injuries plaguing his roster, Hartley will ice a lineup Friday against the New York Islanders that will feature eight rookies, the most first-year players to skate in a single game for the Flames since Dec. 10, 1996.

"Injuries, we can talk about them all day," Hartley said. "There's nothing we can do about this. We don't like it. You never want to see guys laying down on the table in the medical room. But at the same time we're playing a contact sport. It [injuries] opens doors to younger players to come in and grab ice time, grab roles, grab responsibility and fulfill their childhood dreams. I think it's great."

Hartley has had to juggle his lineup substantially of late with Kevin Westgarth, David Jones, Jiri Hudler and Dennis Wideman all sustaining injuries in the past week. He hasn't had Matt Stajan either due to personal reasons.

It's bred plenty of opportunity for Calgary's prospects.

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.05.2014 / 5:25 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Hemsky debuts with Senators; Knight up for Flames

CALGARY -- Two new faces will be featured as the Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators get set to meet at Scotiabank Saddledome following Wednesday's NHL Trade Deadline.

Ales Hemsky is expected to make his Senators debut while Corban Knight, summoned by the Flames from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League, will play in his first career NHL game. Hemsky, acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a third-round and fifth-round draft pick, scored two goals and was named the first star Tuesday in a 3-2 win against the Senators.

Jason Spezza, who could center the 30-year-old against the Flames, was pleased to hear about the addition and what it means for the direction of his team as they try to chase down a third consecutive playoff appearance.

"You're never sure who's going to play with who, but if he does, he's a guy that has excellent individual skills and passes the puck really well and he skates well and has good hockey sense," Spezza said. "You obviously hope that he fits in well with our group.

"We know as the games tick by we can't afford to lose hockey games and it's encouraging to see [general manager] Bryan [Murray] trying to add somebody to help us get that push towards the playoffs. We're right in the thick of things right now."

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Posted On Thursday, 02.27.2014 / 2:51 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Finnish Flames set to mark debuts against Kings

CALGARY -- Sleep, Joni Ortio admitted, wasn't a problem.

Set to make his first career NHL start against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, the Calgary Flames goaltender admitted he had no problem getting in a good snooze on the eve of the game.

"Good (sleep)," Ortio said. "Excited. I can't wait for tonight."

If the 22-year-old is nervous about marking his debut against Los Angeles, he's doing an exceptional job of masking it.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.25.2014 / 4:45 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014 Trade Deadline blog

Flames offer Cammalleri contract extension

CALGARY -- Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke might take his biggest bargaining chip off the table.

Burke, doubling as general manager of the Flames, told Sportsnet 960 The Fan on Tuesday that the club has offered pending unrestricted free agent forward Mike Cammalleri a new contract in advance of the NHL Trade Deadline.

"We've offered him an extension," Burke told the radio station. "We have not gotten a deal done. We will continue to talk and a trade is a possibility, no question about that, but re-signing him is a possibility too. I would not predict how that will come out. We'll see.

"We have not set a drop-dead date. We have not set that date. We have had discussions with Mike and with his agent, both in person. The last meeting I had was with Mike and his agent. Mike has been great for us. He's been a disciple of what we're trying to do. He's been good with the young kids. He's worked his tail off."

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Posted On Saturday, 02.01.2014 / 3:20 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wild's Parise, Suter avoiding Olympic distractions

CALGARY -- Though there's plenty of pre-Olympic attention focused on Zach Parise and Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild, both players have their attention focused solely on the Calgary Flames.

The Wild will wrap up the road portion of their pre-Olympic schedule against the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday. Once the break starts, Parise and Suter will both play prominent roles on an American team looking to win gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. But until that break begins, neither player is thinking about Sochi.

"Of course, I'm looking forward to it, but there's a few more games before the break and then we'll head over there," Parise said. "There's a lot to do before we get to go."

Calgary is the first of three remaining games for the Wild, who will also host the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins before breaking for the Games.

For now, Parise's eyes are on the Flames, who have scored 16 goals over their four-game winning streak. Calgary will welcome Mike Cammalleri back to the lineup. The wing missed nine straight with a concussion and ranks third on the Flames with 13 goals despite missing 17 games this season.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.30.2014 / 2:22 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Cammalleri return pushed back by Flames

CALGARY -- Calgary Flames forward Mike Cammalleri will wait an extra 48 hours to make his return from a concussion.

Originally scheduled to be in the lineup Thursday against the San Jose Sharks after missing eight straight with the injury, Cammalleri and the team have decided to wait an extra few days to get his legs back under him.

"[I] talked to coach [Bob Hartley] about it," Cammalleri said. "I really only had one practice in the last few weeks, real practice. [I] just came back from having been away for a couple days. It was maybe more a fact of we want guys coming back in the lineup ready to help the team and get their legs under them a little bit. I'm OK with that."

Cammalleri sustained the concussion in Calgary's 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 11 and has skated with the team just a handful of times since.

He's now expected back Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.28.2014 / 3:29 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks expect road to foster camaraderie, wins

CALGARY -- Though the Chicago Blackhawks own the third-best home record in the NHL, a lengthy stint away from United Center could be the cure for their recent struggles.

The Blackhawks, who are set to embark on a string of six straight away from Chicago before the Olympic break, have been particularly productive on lengthy stints on the road.

"I honestly think it's just the chemistry we have in the locker room," forward Andrew Shaw said. "Being on the road with the guys is always fun. Going into someone else's barn and stealing a couple points is always satisfying. The games aren't going to be the prettiest but as long as we go out there and work things should go our way, that's for sure."

The Blackhawks went 6-1-0 on their annual circus trip in November, when they were forced to vacate their rink in favor of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. Early last season Chicago went 4-0-2 on another extended road trip.

And in the middle of a stretch where Chicago has won three of its past 10 games, the timing for a lengthy road swing might be perfect.

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Posted On Friday, 01.24.2014 / 2:26 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames push for two straight at home vs. Predators

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames found a way to win one on home ice. Now they're set on making it two.

Snapping a franchise-record seven-game losing skid at Scotiabank Saddledome in a 3-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes two days ago, the Flames will push to earn back-to-back wins in their own building for just the third time this season in welcoming the Nashville Predators on Friday.

"We want to build," coach Bob Hartley said. "We try to give more and more roles to our young players to fast forward that progression, but at the same time we take every game, whether it's a home game or a road game, we want to establish that this is our home and we want to be tough to play against here."

The Flames are just 8-14-3 in Calgary this season. The 19 points collected on home ice is the second fewest in the NHL, trailing just the Edmonton Oilers' 18 points (8-13-2).


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Posted On Wednesday, 01.22.2014 / 2:50 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames aim to snap home skid against Coyotes

CALGARY -- It hasn't been home sweet home for the Calgary Flames of late.

The Flames will look to snap a franchise-record seven-game losing skid on home ice when hosting the Phoenix Coyotes at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday.

Since taking a 4-3 shootout win over the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 23, the Flames haven't found a winning formula on 'Dome ice and have been outscored 22-4 during their spell.

It gets worse.

Their last regulation victory at home came on Dec. 4 in a 4-1 win over the same Coyotes team they'll host as Calgary kicks off a five-game homestand.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.16.2014 / 3:56 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Maurice relishing opportunity with Jets

CALGARY -- Things certainly have changed in the life of Paul Maurice over the past week.

After an inconsistent start to the season that saw the Winnipeg Jets slip to 12th in the Western Conference, Maurice was hired to replace coach Claude Noel on Sunday.

It's given Maurice a renewed appreciation for coaching.

"The one thing I've noticed in my non-coaching life, the day is really, really long," Maurice said. "You're at noon going, 'I've got nine more hours before I even have to watch a hockey game.' Here you're looking at your watch and saying, 'Where did the last 12 hours go?' But that's why it's awesome.

"That's a big part of me loving this. You're moving and you're going. It's great."

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Posted On Thursday, 01.16.2014 / 1:36 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014 Top Prospects Game blog

Fight nearly costs two Top Prospects chance to shine

CALGARY -- For a brief moment, Jacob Middleton and Aaron Haydon thought they had lost their chance to shine.

Middleton, from Team Cherry and Haydon, from Team Orr, renewed Ontario Hockey League acquaintances and dropped the gloves at 17:41 of the first period, a staged-but-spirited tilt that brought the Scotiabank Saddledome crowd to its feet during the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday.

But prior to the bout, both removed their helmets -- and under Canadian Hockey League rule, each was assessed a game misconduct. However, the ruling was rescinded in the first intermission thanks in part to Team Cherry assistant coach Paul Reinhart.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.15.2014 / 3:52 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014 Top Prospects Game blog

Butterflies settling in for roommates Virtanen, McCann

CALGARY -- Jake Virtanen has played many memorable games at Scotiabank Saddledome. His biggest will come Wednesday.

The Calgary Hitmen forward will serve as alternate captain for Team Orr at the 2014 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Calgary on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet).

"It's pretty cool," the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder said. "Obviously playing in front of the Hitmen fans, I'm used to that. Playing in front of the Flames fans will be pretty cool too. I played the Teddy Bear Toss here and it was fully packed for that. It was pretty cool as well. I'm kind of used to that. It'll be pretty fun to just get the game going and have fun out there."

Former NHL player Tim Hunter, who saw action in 815 games in parts of 16 seasons, put Team Orr through the paces at the morning skate.

It's the most nervous Virtanen, ranked ninth among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting in its midterm rankings, has felt over the course of the three-day event.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.15.2014 / 3:28 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014 Top Prospects Game blog

Nedeljkovic, Billia face tough task as backups

CALGARY -- Alex Nedeljkovic and Julio Billia face a challenge unlike any the 38 other players assembled for the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet) have to deal with.

The goaltenders will square off against each other at opposite ends of the ice but won't do so until the first stoppage of play after the midway mark of the second period.

In other words, they pulled back-up duty.

"We flipped a coin for it and unfortunately I got the second half of the game," Nedeljkovic, who will play for Team Cherry, said. "I'd rather start and come out after the first 30 [minutes] just because I'm already warm after the warmups. It's how it goes. I'm not too worried about it.

"You always have to be ready to go in no matter what, whether you're starting or whether you're backing up. You never know what's going to happen so you always have to be ready to step in and give your team a chance to win."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 9:34 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014 Top Prospects Game blog

De Leo a veteran of Top Prospects games

CALGARY -- When it comes to playing in prospects games, Chase De Leo is close to qualifying for veteran status.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Portland Winterhawks forward will make his second appearance in an event that pits the top peers of his age group against each other when he participates in the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet).

De Leo played in the 2013 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Sept. 26 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, but the 18-year old admitted his participation in that game doesn't give him an advantage in this one.


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Posted On Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 7:28 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014 Top Prospects Game blog

Top prospects get put to the test

CALGARY -- Aaron Haydon can be forgiven if he was a little winded after Tuesday's activity at the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Scotiabank Saddledome.

He might've been running a little low on energy.

After skipping two games on the weekend with a bout of the flu before returning Sunday to play for his Niagara IceDogs, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound defenseman admitted both off-ice and on-ice components to Tuesday's testing left him gasping for air.

Divided into their respective teams, those chosen to participate in the Top Prospects Game were put through the paces by Sport Testing in a plethora of dry land drills designed to grade, measure and quantify their abilities in hand grip, medicine ball toss, vertical jump, standing broad jump and pro agility.

After a 45-minute recovery break, prospects hit the ice to test their skills in a 30-meter sprint as well as drills to evaluate reaction time, lateral agility, multi-directional changes and transitional agility, both with and without pucks.


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Posted On Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 12:24 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014 Top Prospects Game blog

Players focus on Top Prospects game, not rankings

CALGARY -- Ranked first or 101st, Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad knows his journey to the 2014 NHL Draft isn't close to being finished.

Ekblad, the top-ranked North American defenseman in NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking, admitted that while the distinction is an honor, his focus is elsewhere since there's plenty of hockey left to play before draft day in June at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

"It is what it is," Ekblad said. "You could rate me one, two or 10. It is what it is. I think the most important thing is winning games with your team in the CHL and playing big on teams like this [the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game]. If you have team success, individual success will come quickly after that. I'm not worried about that. It is what it is and I've just got to keep working hard and doing the things I like to do."

What Ekblad's done throughout his junior career has been impressive. The 17-year-old has 14 goals in 31 games, tops among Ontario Hockey League defensemen, and his 31 points are tied for ninth. He also earned his way on to Canada's team for the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship.

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Posted On Monday, 01.13.2014 / 10:03 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014 Top Prospects Game blog

Top Prospects Game's a reunion for golden Canadians

CALGARY -- At his billet's home back in Kingston, Ontario, Spencer Watson has a reminder of Canada's golden performance at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

His locker room at the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will have plenty more.

Fourteen members of Canada's gold medal-winning entry are represented at the Top Prospects Game, making it a reunion of sorts for Watson and his teammates.

"Everywhere you look, you see someone you know," said Watson, who led the August tournament with 10 points in five games. "That way, it's a nice little reunion. It's great to play with players you've already played with before."

"Just to know you're part of that group and just know you're right there and you're just as good as all these other guys," he added. "It's a huge honor to be playing with all these great players for sure."

The memories didn't stop at Watson.


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Posted On Monday, 01.13.2014 / 9:44 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014 Top Prospects Game blog

Snowstorm can't stop Top Prospects event

CALGARY -- A snowstorm in Calgary couldn't stop 40 of Canada's top draft-eligible players from invading the city.

Calgary, which will host the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet), was blanketed with heavy snowfall from dusk until dawn, throwing a wrench in some players' travel plans.

"It was pretty interesting," Plymouth Whalers goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic said. "A lot of guys got delayed on the plane so it's kind of been a little hectic getting to the airport and getting here, but it's been pretty cool.

"My flight was delayed a little bit. Just enough to make things hectic."

Nedeljkovic wasn't alone.

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Posted On Sunday, 01.12.2014 / 10:06 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014 Top Prospects Game blog

Hitmen duo ready to host CHL's top prospects

CALGARY -- There's something to be said for home-ice advantage.

Calgary Hitmen teammates Jake Virtanen and Ben Thomas will have 'Dome ice advantage in the 2014 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet).

"It gives me a little bit of confidence right from the start," Virtanen said. "It's in the [Saddledome]. Others are probably not used to playing in an NHL rink. I'm really excited for that. I'm really comfortable with that. I've been here [in Calgary] for almost two years now. I think it gives me and Ben a little bit of confidence more than most guys."

Virtanen and Thomas will be teammates Wednesday as members of Team Orr.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.11.2014 / 2:54 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Offensively challenged Flames welcome Penguins

CALGARY -- The Edmonton Oilers sure didn't do the Calgary Flames any favors Friday night.

The Oilers turned a late 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 overtime win thanks to goals by Anton Belov and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, snapping Pittsburgh's three-game winning streak in the process.

The Flames know that as a result, they'll be dealing with an ornery Penguins squad when they play host to Pittsburgh at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday.

"They're going to be hungry," rookie Sean Monahan said. "They didn't expect to lose that game and in hockey anything can happen so I think they're going to be hungry for a win. But so are we."

With Calgary's recent struggles, coach Bob Hartley's attention is solely on his own bench, though.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.09.2014 / 3:16 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues look to extend win streak to seven vs. Flames

CALGARY -- The St. Louis Blues hope to increase their winning streak to seven games when they visit the Calgary Flames on Thursday.

But the Blues, who last lost a game 4-3 in a shootout to the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Dec. 23, know not to take Calgary lightly.

"That was a wake-up call that if you let your foot off the gas, teams are going to take advantage of you," Blues captain David Backes said. "We learned a lesson that night. It taught us a full 60 minutes wins a hockey game.

"We've had pretty good efforts throughout that stretch of games where we haven't lost, but it's another 0-0 game at the start of this one against a team that works as hard as anyone, so we've got our work cut out for us."


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Posted On Friday, 01.03.2014 / 3:24 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wideman ready to return to Flames' lineup

CALGARY -- After missing 16 games with a broken hand, Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman will make his return to the lineup Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Despite missing over a month of action, nerves aren't settling into the veteran of over 600 NHL games.

"Butterflies? No," he said. "You definitely have to get your head back around getting prepared for a game. When you're not playing there's different preparation the morning of. I'm just trying to focus on getting ready for [Friday]."

Wideman sustained the injury blocking a shot late in the Flames’ 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 27. He's not sure what to expect in terms of workload after his lengthy layoff.

"I have no idea what the plan is there," said Wideman, who is averaging 26:14 of ice time this season. "I think for me it's going to be just trying to get the first couple shifts pretty short, try to get my legs under me, try to get my wind and get used to the speed again. The worst thing that can happen is getting caught out there for a long [shift] early on."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 2:08 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Westgarth could make Flames debut against Flyers

CALGARY -- If Kevin Westgarth can make it to Scotiabank Saddledome in time, he will make his Calgary Flames debut Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Westgarth, acquired Monday from the Carolina Hurricanes in a trade for Greg Nemisz, is trying but may not make it in time for puck drop on New Year's Eve.

"Right now the main thing is to try to get Kevin Westgarth in town," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “His flight has been delayed. We think he's going to show up early this afternoon, so if he does he's going to be in the lineup."

If he does have Westgarth at his disposal, Hartley said he expects one thing from his new forward.

"Toughness," he said. "That's why we got him."

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Posted On Sunday, 12.29.2013 / 1:49 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames' Backlund questionable for Canucks

CALGARY -- Despite playing a season-high 22:51 in a 2-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, forward Mikael Backlund could be out of the lineup Sunday when the Calgary Flames host the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Backlund missed practice Saturday and skipped the morning skate Sunday with an undisclosed injury.

"Backlund's going to be a game-time decision," coach Bob Hartley said. "I talked to him and he feels that he could be in. There's no sense in putting him in this morning. You guys [media] and I will find out basically at the same time [if he can play]."

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Posted On Friday, 12.27.2013 / 2:48 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames' Stajan OK after knee-on-knee collision

CALGARY -- Calgary Flames center Matt Stajan couldn't dodge David Backes but he did dodge a bullet.

Stajan won't miss any time after a knee-on-knee collision with Backes during overtime of Calgary's 4-3 shootout victory against the St. Louis Blues on Monday.

"I feel OK," Stajan said. "I've taken a lot of hard hits here lately but the three days off, I think it did a lot. Luckily there was no serious ligament damage in any of the plays. It's just bruises and aches and pains that you recover with time. I'm excited to get back at it and hopefully heal up as we go here."

With one minute remaining in overtime, Stajan had the puck and was cutting across the Blues' blue line. Backes went in to deliver a blow to Stajan but caught him with a knee-on-knee hit instead. Backes was assessed a minor penalty on the play while Stajan immediately left the ice, slamming his stick against the boards before exiting.


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Posted On Monday, 12.23.2013 / 7:03 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames lose Glencross, Russell to injury

CALGARY -- Calgary Flames forward Curtis Glencross will miss the next eight weeks with a high ankle sprain and defenseman Kris Russell will be sidelined four-to-six weeks with a second-degree sprain of the MCL in his left knee.

Glencross hit Penguins rookie defenseman Olli Maatta into the end boards 37 seconds into the game and fell awkwardly with his left leg trapped under his body. He left the game and didn't return. The Flames placed Glencross on injured reserve Monday, a few hours before their game against the St. Louis Blues at Scotiabank Saddledome.

The 30-year-old had played six games since returning from a second-degree MCL sprain that kept him out of the lineup from Nov. 7-Dec. 10 -- a span of 15 games.

Russell was injured in the third period against the Penguins. Zach Sill fell on the 26-year-old defenseman after Flames rookie Sean Monahan gave the Pittsburgh forward a shove.

Russell, who is second in the NHL in blocked shots with 105, has averaged more than 23 minutes of ice time a game this season.

The Flames also announced forward Blair Jones will be out indefinitely with a meniscal tear and updated Dennis Wideman's status to week-to-week. Wideman has been sidelined since suffering broken hand in a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 27.

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Posted On Monday, 12.23.2013 / 2:24 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues' Bouwmeester downplays return to Calgary

CALGARY -- Jay Bouwmeester's 800th career NHL game will have an added twist to it.

It will mark his return to Calgary.

Bouwmeester, who played 279 games during parts of four seasons with the Calgary Flames, is returning to the city for the first time since being traded to the St. Louis Blues in advance of the the 2012-13 trade deadline.

The 30-year-old didn't tip his hand to the significance of the game, which doubles as his 671st consecutive game.

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Posted On Thursday, 12.12.2013 / 5:18 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Hurricanes' Semin returns against Flames

CALGARY -- Alexander Semin is in the Carolina Hurricanes' lineup Thursday against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Semin had missed the past 12 games after suffering a concussion in a 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 16. He was first on the Hurricanes in assists with six and his nine points were second when he sustained the injury.

Anton Khudobin, who has missed 26 games with an ankle injury, has also resumed skating with the team. Justin Peters is in goal for Carolina on Thursday.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 3:42 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Bruins place Eriksson on IR, recall Johnson

CALGARY -- The Boston Bruins have placed forward Loui Eriksson on injured reserve with a concussion and have recalled Nick Johnson from Providence of the American Hockey League.

Eriksson left the Bruins' game against the Pittsburgh Penguins after being hit by defenseman Brooks Orpik in the opening minute of the first period. Eriksson missed five games earlier this season due to a concussion.

"Some of the guys have texted him and had very limited contact with him right now," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "It's really early in the concussion stage. You don't want too much stimulation and stuff like that. It's been done purposely. I'll reach out to him when my trainers tell me he's starting to turn the corner a little bit and I'll be able to reach out to him which I've done the last time as well."

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Posted On Friday, 12.06.2013 / 2:50 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames expect to face an angry Avalanche squad

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames are expecting an ornery Colorado Avalanche club at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday.

The Avalanche are set to square off here less than 24 hours after being on the wrong end of an 8-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

"They'll probably be an [angry] group [Friday], I would think," Flames forward Mike Cammalleri said. "Generally after teams have an outing like that, they feel like they have something to prove to themselves, their coach, their fans, the League, everybody the next night."

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.04.2013 / 2:34 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Giordano to return to Flames' lineup

CALGARY -- Calgary's captain is set to return.

The Calgary Flames will have defenseman Mark Giordano back in the lineup when they host the Phoenix Coyotes at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday.

"He'll be in the lineup," coach Bob Hartley said. "When you wear the 'C' not only are you a great player but you're a special person. Our best leader is coming back to our group and we're going to play him."

Giordano has missed the past 18 games with a broken ankle sustained in a 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 21. He had seven assists and nine points in eight games and was averaging more than 25 minutes of ice time per game before the injury.

The Flames went 5-11-2 in Giordano's absence.

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.27.2013 / 4:04 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks goalie Raanta set for first NHL start

CALGARY -- Antti Raanta knew well in advance he'd be making his first career NHL start against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, but that didn't stop the 24-year-old goalie from getting a good night's sleep.

It won't spoil his pregame nap either.

Told Tuesday he'd get the call against the Flames, Raanta has prepared for the start like the day was any other.

"It was like a normal day [Tuesday]," he said. "The night went good. Of course it's a big day for me. I don't want to start thinking too much that I start taking too much pressure. If I do that, I will see it on the scoreboard and that's not the plan, what I want to do.

"I'll try to get a good game day nap like a normal routine going on and not think about it too much because it's not going to go too well. I just have to be enjoying the moment and try to show everything what I have. This is a big day."

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Posted On Friday, 11.22.2013 / 3:38 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Jones excited for season debut with Flames

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames are wasting no time seeing what they have in a rejuvenated Blair Jones.

Summoned from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League after the Flames dealt Tim Jackman to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, Jones is set to make his season debut for the Flames when they host the Florida Panthers at Scotiabank Saddledome.

"I'm pretty excited," Jones said. "We had a pretty good roll going in the American league and to get back up here and get back in the game, it's fun."

Jones failed to crack the Flames' roster out of training camp this season but recharged his career with the Heat, leading the team with 20 points in 16 games before being called up.

"The message I told myself is don't go and sulk, it's not going to do you any good, so just work hard and play to your capabilities and good things will happen," he said. "I never got down on myself. I always believed in myself. I'm excited to get back here and get in the action and help the team."

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.20.2013 / 3:38 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets after redemption against Flames

CALGARY -- The Columbus Blue Jackets are eager to erase a 7-0 loss Tuesday to the Edmonton Oilers from their memory when they hit the ice for the second of a back-to-back against the Calgary Flames.

"I think everyone in the room's embarrassed about our performance [Tuesday] night," Columbus forward Blake Comeau said. "Any time you lose like that, it's basically nothing you can take from the game. We're glad we get to play [Wednesday]. We get a chance to redeem ourselves. We know it's not going to be an easy game, but that being said, we come out and play the way that we can, try to get the two points, and then we can put the Edmonton game behind us and move on."

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Posted On Saturday, 11.16.2013 / 3:23 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Smid faces former teammates in Battle of Alberta

CALGARY -- Ladislav Smid doesn't need a reminder that the Edmonton Oilers are coming into Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday.

The date was already circled on his calendar.

Traded from Edmonton to the Calgary Flames just eight days ago, Smid is thrilled to be facing his former Oilers teammates so soon.

"I'm really excited for this game," he said. "You obviously have to get it going here at home. It's always fun to get out there in the Battle of Alberta and especially for me. It's going to be a little bit different since I'm part of the Flames now."

Calgary acquired Smid and Olivier Roy in exchange for prospects Roman Horak and Laurent Brossoit on November 8th, just the second time ever a trade has been completed between the two franchises.

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Posted On Thursday, 11.14.2013 / 3:06 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames pair mark milestones against Stars

CALGARY -- Eight years ago Dennis Wideman's only goal was to stay in the NHL for an entire season with the St. Louis Blues.

He's since managed that and then some.

Just a week shy of the anniversary of his first NHL game, Wideman will suit up for career game No. 600 when the Calgary Flames host the Dallas Stars at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday.

"I was hoping I would get a full year in when I first came in," said the Flames defenseman, who was 22 when he made his NHL debut. "That was about it. That was my goal at that point, just trying to stay, let alone play as many as I have now."

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.12.2013 / 3:38 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames hope Stempniak's return provides spark

CALGARY -- Having dropped three straight games and coming away from a four-game road trip with just two of a possible eight points, the Calgary Flames are searching for a spark at Scotiabank Saddledome.

They might have found one in Lee Stempniak.

Stempniak, who has missed Calgary's past seven games with a broken foot, is good to go when the Flames host the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

"It's just hard to see the team lose," said Stempniak, who has four goals and nine points in 10 games. "I don't know if I would've made a difference at all, but it's just not being a part of it. You work so hard to be able to play the games. Anytime you're not playing it's tough, especially when you're not winning.

"Hopefully we can turn that around tonight."


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Posted On Friday, 11.01.2013 / 3:14 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Franzen, Backlund back for Red Wings-Flames game

CALGARY -- A pair of players will mark their return to the lineup when the Calgary Flames host the Detroit Red Wings at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday.

Mikael Backlund will get back into action for the Flames, and Johan Franzen will suit up for the Red Wings. Each player missed the most-recent game for their respective teams, albeit for very different reasons.

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.30.2013 / 2:36 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames look to stop red-hot Kessel

CALGARY -- One game after holding Alex Ovechkin off the score sheet, the Calgary Flames are tasked with trying to do the same against another of the NHL's hottest forwards.

Hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday for the first time since Feb. 14, 2012, the Flames will look to shut down Phil Kessel, named the League's Second Star of the Week on Monday.

"Before trying to stop him we'll try to contain him," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "We've watched quite a few of the Leafs' games in the past week and he's been very impressive. He's been very dominant and even with [Tyler] Bozak out of the lineup, last night with [Nazem] Kadri he didn't miss a beat. It just shows the depth of this organization right now. It's a good challenge."


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Posted On Saturday, 10.26.2013 / 3:35 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Giordano, Stempniak absent as Flames host Capitals

CALGARY -- Lee Stempniak and Mark Giordano will not be in the lineup for the Calgary Flames as they return to Scotiabank Saddledome to host the Washington Capitals after coming off their five-game road trip with just one win.

Stempniak and Giordano, who rank second and third in Flames scoring respectively, will both miss the game on Saturday with lower-body injuries.

"Both of them, they're great leaders in here," said forward Sven Baertschi, who is expected to dress in Stempniak's place. "They're a huge help for our team. With both of them out, there has to be other guys that have to step up and I think we have enough offensive power in here to score goals and we have enough defensemen that can play very well.

"Everyone has to just chip in a little bit of leadership and then problem solved."

Stempniak played 16:57 and scored the Flames' lone goal in Calgary's 5-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday to wrap up Calgary's 1-4-0 road trip. But he will be unavailable for the Flames. He has recorded a point in all but one game for the Flames this season and has four goals and nine points on the year.

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Posted On Friday, 10.11.2013 / 3:24 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Devils seeking first win of season in Calgary

CALGARY -- Though the New Jersey Devils are still seeking their first win of the season as they visit the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday night, coach Peter DeBoer doesn't think the team's situation is as dire as it's been made out to be.

DeBoer's Devils (0-1-3) have earned points in three of four games this season. Getting two in Calgary would be a reward for the coach.

"I don't think the picture is as bleak as I've read it is," DeBoer said. "I think we've done some good things. We're close to getting some wins and some points. It'd be nice to get a first one, I think. It would take a little bit of pressure off."


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Posted On Wednesday, 10.09.2013 / 2:04 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

MacDonald, Price set to face off in Calgary

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames will stick with the same lineup used in the team's 5-4 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday when they host the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, TSN, RDS).

Joey MacDonald will get his third straight start in net for the Flames. In two games this season, the 33-year-old is 1-0-1 with a 3.93 goals-against average and .867 save percentage this season.

Carey Price also is expected to make his third straight start. In two games this season he is 1-1-0 with a 2.52 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.09.2013 / 1:38 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames' Street enjoying first-line assignment

CALGARY -- Ben Street will be the first to admit he isn't the likeliest of first-line candidates, but the forward is relishing in his opportunity to be just that with the Calgary Flames.

Street is expected to center Curtis Glencross and David Jones for a second straight game when the Flames host the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, TSN, RDS).

"In my wildest dreams you kind of imagine it," Street said. "If you had told me that in the third game of the year I was in that position I would've taken it, but I wouldn't have believed you. I'll take it. I keep trying to get better and make sure I don't relinquish that spot."


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Posted On Sunday, 10.06.2013 / 2:54 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Saddledome ready for Flames' home opener

CALGARY -- The 'Dome wasn't rebuilt in a day.

But less than three months after the Elbow River destroyed everything below the eighth row of seats at Scotiabank Saddledome, the Calgary Flames are ready for their home opener Sunday.

"It's special," coach Bob Hartley said Saturday. "I came in shortly after the flood. I had to wear that astronaut suit to get downstairs. I came back around August 20th and I saw all those workers, I saw the pride. I was not even asking a question, they were saying 'Coach, we're going to get this ready for you'."

They did. Crews spent nearly three months removing 30 million gallons of water that left the event level of Scotiabank Saddledome a total loss.

The June flood, dubbed one of the worst natural disasters in Canadian history, was the first time in nine decades that the city of Calgary has had to declare a state of emergency. The province of Alberta estimates over $5 billion will be required to rebuild infrastructure after the flood forced the evacuation of over 100,000 Calgarians and 14,500 homes were damaged.

The home of the Flames was one of them.

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Posted On Sunday, 10.06.2013 / 2:24 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

No Stajan for Flames; Lack starts for Canucks

CALGARY -- Thanks to a deep leg contusion from Thursday against the Washington Capitals, center Matt Stajan isn't ready to return to action in the Calgary Flames' home opener against the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday.

"I saw him this morning," coach Bob Hartley said. "He looks like he had a few slices of pizza and burgers over the last week. He has a big butt right now."

The injury means newcomer Joe Colborne, acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs six days ago, will play in his second straight game for the Flames. Colborne played 12:41 in his Flames debut Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, recording no points but a team-high four hits.

Making the game extra special for the 23-year-old is the fact he grew up in Calgary.

"I'm trying to just keep calm and relax," Colborne said. "There's going to be a lot of emotion, a lot of energy out there. I'm going to have quite a few people in the stands. It should be fun."

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Posted On Friday, 09.13.2013 / 9:07 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Training Camp 2013 blog

Baertschi hoping to find stride at Flames camp

CALGARY -- Sven Baertschi knows what's at stake. He knows there are no guarantees.

The 20-year-old rookie is aware that despite closing last season as the team's hottest forward with points in seven straight games to close the season, he's no lock to start the season with the Calgary Flames.

"That's what's really exciting about this camp this year," Baertschi said. "There's not much guaranteed here and everyone has to earn a spot. It should be really intense out there and that's the fun part about hockey. If it wasn't intense, it wouldn't be much fun."

Taken by the Flames with the 13th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, Baertschi had set the bar to almost unattainable expectations when he scored three goals in five games during an emergency call-up from the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League in 2011-12.


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Posted On Thursday, 09.12.2013 / 5:17 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Training Camp 2013 blog

Calgary has new captain; Flames not naming names

CALGARY -- Bob Hartley knows who will be the next captain of the Calgary Flames.

He's just not telling.

Searching for a replacement after dealing franchise face and longtime captain Jarome Iginla in the days leading up to the trade deadline last season, Hartley's got the "C" firmly stitched on the jersey of one of his players.

"I want to make it clear, we're not thinking of someone, our choice is made up a long time ago," Hartley said after the coach watched his team hit the ice for the first time in training camp.

"We sat last year, we went through the individual meetings, we talked with the players, I sat down and talked with Jay, I talked with management, I even talked with ownership and our choice was clear-cut. We have some very good prospects to be captains, to be assistant captains. All our meetings were done and basically we were coming up with one name.

"It was basically unanimous that it was the one guy."

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Posted On Tuesday, 08.27.2013 / 4:30 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Olympic Orientation Camp blog

Chicago trio discusses Stanley Cup vs. Olympic gold

CALGARY -- Few players can boast that they've hoisted the Stanley Cup over their head and had an Olympic gold medal placed around their neck.

But for three members of the Chicago Blackhawks who have won both, the accomplishments generate totally different emotions.


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Posted On Tuesday, 08.27.2013 / 3:25 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Olympic Orientation Camp blog

Canada ready for Sochi challenge

CALGARY -- Four years ago, home-ice advantage in Vancouver helped play a role in Canada's Olympic gold. The Canadians won't have that luxury when they try to defend their gold medal in Sochi, Russia, in February.

Though the rivalry between the two countries may not be quite as intense as it once was, Canadian center Jonathan Toews is aware that a trip to Sochi will be a journey into hostile and relatively unfamiliar territory.


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Posted On Monday, 08.26.2013 / 7:24 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Olympic Orientation Camp blog

Phaneuf determined to stay free of distractions

CALGARY -- There's only one thing that has the attention of Dion Phaneuf -- the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Entering the final season of a six-year, $39 million contract and in the middle of Canada's national men's team orientation camp, the Maple Leafs captain has plenty of distractions but he insists his sole focus is the start to the season in Toronto.


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Posted On Sunday, 08.25.2013 / 8:05 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Olympic Orientation Camp blog

Bruins forward Bergeron '95 percent' after injuries

CALGARY -- After suffering multiple injuries on the road to the Stanley Cup Final, Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said Sunday he is closing in on a complete recovery.

"I feel pretty good," Bergeron said at an introductory press conference for Canada national men's team orientation camp. "I'm pretty much 95 percent to where I'd like to be. [It] took a little time to get back to feeling good and normal, but workouts, and I've been on the ice this week and it's been feeling well, so I've felt pretty good."

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Posted On Sunday, 08.25.2013 / 7:35 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Olympic Orientation Camp blog

No advantage given to Blackhawks' Olympic hopefuls

CALGARY -- The Chicago Blackhawks participating in Canada's national men's team orientation camp this week will have no competitive advantage when it comes to cracking the Olympic roster, coach Mike Babcock said Sunday.

The chemistry between Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews alongside goaltender Corey Crawford will gain the reigning Stanley Cup Champions no special consideration.

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Posted On Friday, 04.19.2013 / 2:24 PM

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

Ducks closing in on division title, No. 2 seed

CALGARY -- The Anaheim Ducks, winless in their past three games, are looking to get back on track against the Calgary Flames on Friday night.

A victory over the Flames would bring the Ducks within one win of clinching the Pacific Division title, something coach Bruce Boudreau is eying.

"We'd certainly like to have that, and then we'd love to secure second overall in the Western Conference, which I think is the same thing, two wins, but every team that we're playing is playing really hard right now," he said. "Calgary's a great example of a team not throwing in the towel. To beat a hungry Detroit team in their last game says something to me. We better be ready."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.17.2013 / 3:16 PM

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

Red Wings face must-win in Calgary

CALGARY -- Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock knows the dangers of playing a team like the Calgary Flames, a club that is long out of the Western Conference playoff picture and auditioning its young players.

He's just not sure if it makes them any more dangerous than the next team, considering Detroit has six games remaining on their schedule with a 22nd consecutive playoff appearance far from guaranteed.

"When you're playing teams at this time of the year, is it better to play a team that's in the playoffs and a little more comfortable?" Babcock questioned. "Is it better to play a team that's fighting for their life, maybe seized up a little bit? Or is it better to play a team that has some kids and they're just loose and dry?

"I don't know the answer to any of these questions and it's a waste of time thinking about it. Lets play."

The Red Wings enter Calgary holding down the eighth and final playoff spot in the West with 47 points. The Columbus Blue Jackets, who have played one more game than Detroit, also sit with 47 on the season. The Dallas Stars are two points back at 45.

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Posted On Monday, 04.15.2013 / 3:04 PM

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

New Flames prospect Hanowski set for NHL debut

CALGARY -- Ben Hanowski's college career came to an end on Thursday night after St. Cloud was eliminated in the Frozen Four semifinal by Quinnipiac.

His professional career starts Monday as a member of the Calgary Flames.

Signed to a two-year, two-way contract on Friday, Hanowski is set to debut for the Flames against the Minnesota Wild at Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday.

"I enjoyed my four years at St. Cloud," he said. "It was a great four years for me. I'm excited to be here. I'm excited to start a new journey and start my pro career."


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Posted On Monday, 04.15.2013 / 2:48 PM

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

Cullen hopes to spark Wild in return from injury

CALGARY -- After missing six games with a lower-body injury, center Matt Cullen is ready to return to the Minnesota Wild with the hope of injecting some life into their playoff push.

The Wild are just 3-6-1 over their past 10 games and have won just once since Cullen's injury, but remain seventh in the Western Conference and have a chance at two points against the Calgary Flames on Monday night.

It's been tough to watch, Cullen admitted.

"We've gone through a tough stretch of games, some serious playoff quality teams," he said. "You never want to miss that and its been awfully tough watching."

Cullen has seven goals and 25 points in 35 game this season.

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Posted On Friday, 04.12.2013 / 2:35 PM

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

Smith's return sparked postseason hope for Coyotes

CALGARY -- The Stanley Cup Playoffs hope for the Phoenix Coyotes could rest on the broad shoulders of Mike Smith.

The 6-foot-4 goaltender has stopped 93 of 95 shots since returning to the lineup against the Colorado Avalanche on April 6 after missing six games with an upper-body injury. He's earned four of a possible six points for a Coyotes club that enters action against the Calgary Flames on Friday night trailing the Detroit Red Wings by two points for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference.

According to coach Dave Tippett, Smith has been the injection the Coyotes needed as they try to close in on the Red Wings.

"We needed a guy that's going to take the ball and run with it," Tippett said. "We had a good week at home where we used three different goaltenders and got three wins, but ultimately if we're going to have a chance to be a playoff team, Smitty has to take that ball and run with it."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.10.2013 / 4:17 PM

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

Flames bring back Jones after injuries

CALGARY -- After a rash of injuries up front, the Calgary Flames will welcome back Blair Jones to the lineup.

Jones was recalled from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League on Tuesday after it was clear Matt Stajan wouldn't be available against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.

Stajan and Jiri Hudler will miss the game, each with an upper-body injury. Brian McGrattan will also miss the game with a shoulder injury, paving the way for Jones' return.

"I'm obviously excited to be back," Jones said. "I got a chance to go and play a lot in [Abbotsford] but I'm just excited to be back and hopefully finish out the year here."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.03.2013 / 2:33 PM

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

MacDonald in net as Flames host Oilers

CALGARY -- Miikka Kiprusoff reportedly is staying in the Stampede City, but it will be Joey MacDonald between the pipes for the Calgary Flames against the Edmonton Oilers at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday.

Kiprusoff, who reportedly nixed a trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier in the day, will serve as backup. He has been pulled in back-to-back games, including Monday's game in Edmonton after allowing three goals on six shots in Calgary's 4-1 loss. In relief, MacDonald stopped 13 of 14 shots.

The recent struggles of Kiprusoff helped persuade Calgary coach Bob Hartley's decision to start MacDonald against the Oilers.

"I think that Joey played very good and at the same time, it's been a tough couple of weeks for Miikka," Hartley said. "Just to give him a break at the same time, I think that Joey deserves the start."

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Posted On Friday, 03.29.2013 / 3:03 PM

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

Without Iginla, Flames face Blue Jackets

CALGARY -- The Columbus Blue Jackets will play the adversary as the Calgary Flames usher in the post-Jarome Iginla era on Friday.

Taking to the ice for the first time since trading their captain and franchise face, coach Bob Hartley and the Flames are ready to tackle life without Iginla.

"With the departure of Jarome, we're starting a new cycle," Hartley said. "That's the unfortunate thing or the fortunate thing of pro sports. You look at football, baseball, hockey, basketball, there comes a time when a great athlete leaves an organization, leaves a city and the next day it's still business. You have to roll up your sleeve and say 'What's next?'"

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.27.2013 / 2:39 PM

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

Night off for Kiprusoff as Flames host Avalanche

CALGARY -- Playing the tail end of a back-to-back set in split cities, the Calgary Flames are expected to start goaltender Joey MacDonald against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.

Miikka Kiprusoff started a night ago against the Chicago Blackhawks, making 33 saves in a 2-0 losing effort at the United Center, his fourth consecutive outing.

Citing travel and the birth of his second son Oskar last week, coach Bob Hartley is opting to give Kiprusoff the night off, starting MacDonald for the ninth time this season.

"He was a busy man in the last couple of games, plus the traveling plus the new baby and everything," Hartley said. "It's a lot on his plate. After talking with Kipper, we both decided that we would give the start to Joey MacDonald."

MacDonald is 3-5-1 with a 2.98 goals against average and .894 save percentage this season.


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Posted On Sunday, 03.24.2013 / 1:22 PM

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

Backlund back in for Flames

CALGARY -- After a one-game absence, the Calgary Flames will insert forward Mikael Backlund back into the lineup for their game Sunday against the St. Louis Blues.

Backlund did not dress Friday in Calgary's 5-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He's playing through a bruise associated with a crack in a bone in his foot sustained blocking a shot in a March 15 game against the Nashville Predators.

"When I'm out there playing I don't think about it," Backlund said. "Obviously it's not fully recovered, but it's not bothering me through games. It wasn't my best road trip so I've got to find a way back and get better."

Backlund missed 14 games earlier this season with a knee injury. He has four goals and seven points in 14 games this season.

The Blues, playing one night after their 3-0 win at the Edmonton Oilers, did not have a morning skate.

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Posted On Friday, 03.15.2013 / 1:52 PM

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

Projected lineups for Flames, Predators

CALGARY -- Here are the projected lineups for Friday night’s game between the Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome:

FLAMES

Alex TanguayMike CammalleriJarome Iginla

Curtis GlencrossMatt StajanLee Stempniak

Jiri HudlerMikael BacklundBlake Comeau

Tim JackmanSteve BeginBrian McGrattan

Jay BouwmeesterTJ Brodie

Dennis WidemanMark Giordano

Derek SmithChris Butler

Miikka Kiprusoff

Joey MacDonald


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Posted On Wednesday, 03.13.2013 / 3:17 PM

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

Glencross a game-time decision after missing two

CALGARY – Having missed two games due to injury, it comes as good news to Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley that forward Curtis Glencross is a game-time decision.

Having finally iced a healthy lineup with the return of Mikael Backlund on Friday, Glencross missed a back-to-back set against the Los Angeles Kings with an upper-body injury but could return Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings.

“That’s great news for us because obviously he’s a big part of our forward group," Hartley said. "He’s a big part of our team. That was great news.”

Glencross has eight goals and 13 points in 22 games for the Flames this season.

Here’s Calgary’s projected lineup against Detroit:

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.13.2013 / 3:00 PM

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

Red Wings’ Filppula returns, Howard ill in Calgary

CALGARY – Facing a variety of lineup changes as the Detroit Red Wings prep for the Calgary Flames, coach Mike Babcock almost overlooked the return of forward Valtteri Filppula.

“Yep. He’s in," Babcock said casually. "Oh I guess that’s another lineup thing,”

Filppula has missed the past seven games for the Red Wings after suffering a shoulder injury against the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 24. In his absence, Detroit has scored 10 goals and gone 3-2-2.

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.06.2013 / 3:08 PM

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

Projected lineups for Sharks, Flames

CALGARY – Here are the projected lineups for Wednesday night's game between the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks at Scotiabank Saddledome:

FLAMES

Curtis GlencrossMatt StajanLee Stempniak

Jiri HudlerRoman CervenkaJarome Iginla

Alex TanguayMike CammalleriSven Baertschi

Steve BeginBlake ComeauBrian McGrattan

Jay BouwmeesterMark Giordano

Dennis WidemanChris Butler

TJ BrodieDerek Smith

Miikka Kiprusoff

Joey MacDonald

Scratched: Anton Babchuk, Tim Jackman, Cory Sarich

Injured: Mikael Backlund, Paul Byron

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.06.2013 / 2:50 PM

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

Kiprusoff returns against Sharks

CALGARY -- After missing 13 games with a sprained knee ligament, goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff will make his return to the lineup when the Calgary Flames host the San Jose Sharks at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday.

Calgary coach Bob Hartley confirmed Kiprusoff's start Wednesday.

"I said 'Are you ready?' and he answered back, 'I want to play,'" Hartley said. "Once the medical staff clears you and the player tells the coach that he wants to play, you just open the door."

Kiprusoff's return meant Daniel Taylor, who went 1-1-0 in two games, was sent to Abbotsford of the American Hockey League.

A mainstay in Calgary's net for a decade, Kiprusoff has played 70 or more games in each of the last seven seasons for the Flames. Before getting hurt in the second period against the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 5, the 36-year-old netminder had played every minute for Calgary this season.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.03.2013 / 8:00 PM

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

Snowstorm in Alberta delayed Canucks

CALGARY -- A snowstorm in southern Alberta grounded the Vancouver Canucks.

Expecting to depart for Calgary after their 5-2 victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, the Canucks were stuck in Vancouver as they waited for weather conditions to improve prior to their game against the Calgary Flames 8 p.m. ET Sunday at Scotiabank Saddledome.

On the Canucks' official Twitter account, the club announced its flight was scheduled to depart at 3:45 p.m. ET.

The game began on time.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.03.2013 / 2:03 PM

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

Flames' Taylor to start in goal vs. Canucks

CALGARY -- Goalie Daniel Taylor will make his second start of the season when the Calgary Flames host the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday.

For Taylor, who took the loss in a 4-0 defeat against the Phoenix Coyotes on Feb. 18, it will be the second start of his NHL career.

"I feel that he had two great periods in Phoenix," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "Joey MacDonald played quite a few games for us. Kipper [Miikka Kiprusoff] is getting healthier and he's getting closer, so we felt that at the same time as giving a break to Joey MacDonald, to have another look at Danny Taylor would be a good idea."

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Posted On Sunday, 02.24.2013 / 3:06 PM

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

Kiprusoff back on the ice for Flames

CALGARY – Having already missed nine games as a result of a sprain to his medial collateral ligament, Calgary Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff is back on the ice.

The 36-year-old skated on his own Sunday after being evaluated by the Flames' medical staff on Saturday. It was the first time Kiprusoff skated since having the injury re-diagnosed as a Grade 2 sprain on February 12th.

"The medical staff last night were pretty pleased with what they saw from Miikka's condition," coach Bob Hartley said. "He will not be skating with the team, though. Tomorrow morning, we're going to re-evaluate how he is, is there pain, is he good and if he's still good, we're going to keep getting him on the ice and eventually you will see him with the team."

Kiprusoff originally suffered the injury against the Detroit Red Wings on February 5th and has played just seven games this season, posting a 3.24 goals against average and .870 save percentage.

He's played more than 70 games in each of the last seven seasons for Calgary.

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Posted On Sunday, 02.24.2013 / 2:26 PM

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

Cervenka retuns to Flames lineup against Phoenix

CALGARY – Roman Cervenka will return to the lineup after a one-game absence as the Calgary Flames get set to host the Phoenix Coyotes at Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday night.

Cervenka was held out of the lineup in Calgary’s 3-1 win against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday in order to rest. The 27-year-old has been playing catch-up with his conditioning after a blood clot forced him to miss action leading up to the start of the season.

“I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt but we’re in the business to win games,” coach Bob Hartley said. “Here’s a young man that is coming in and didn’t play very much because of the blood clot and everything. His conditioning was not great.”

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Posted On Saturday, 02.23.2013 / 2:42 PM

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

Konopka ready for physical affair against Flames

CALGARY – Zenon Konopka heard about Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley challenging his team to be tougher to play against.

Set to play in his first game since Feb. 14, Konopka sees that as a challenge of his own.

“It’s a situation where he needs to spark his team,” Konopka said. “It’s one of those games I’m excited to play and I’m excited for tonight. I wish it was a 7 o’clock start instead of an 8 o’clock start.”

No stranger to the physical side of the game with 52 penalty minutes in 14 games, the 32-year-old is excited at the prospect of some rough play tonight.

“This is old school hockey and this is the hockey I love,” he said. “It should be a lot of fun tonight. I think it’s going to be a great game for the League and the fans as well, to see a lot of physical play.”

Rookie Mikael Granlund is expected to come out of the lineup to make way for Konopka.

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Posted On Saturday, 02.23.2013 / 1:58 PM

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

Baertschi back with Flames; lines changed

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames will see some fresh faces in a lineup completely shaken up by coach Bob Hartley.

Hartley will move wing Mike Cammalleri to the middle, welcome back rookie Sven Baertschi from injury, and inject recently recalled spark plug Akim Aliu for a completely new look at forward when the Flames welcome the Minnesota Wild to Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night.

"I sat with Cammy yesterday and I expressed a fact that I wanted to make some changes, and part of making changes was in order to allow me to make those changes I wanted to see if he was open to play at center," Hartley said.

The shakeup comes on the heels of Calgary's second-consecutive loss Wednesday and a record of 5-7-3.

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.20.2013 / 3:17 PM

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

Giordano understands reasoning behind fine

CALGARY, Alberta -- At the time, Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano didn't think twice about his battle with Dallas Stars forward Antoine Roussel on Sunday night.

Upon review, he understands why the NHL fined him $10,000 on Tuesday for his slew-foot on Roussel in Calgary's 4-3 win over the Stars.

"I totally understand how it looks and it doesn't look great on video on the replay obviously and I'm happy the guy isn't hurt," said Giordano, a first-time offender. "Those plays around the boards, they do have to eliminate them. I guess I'll take the fine and more forward and try not to do stuff like that again."

The fine is the maximum allowed under the new collective bargaining agreement and goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.20.2013 / 2:55 PM

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

Kings expected to turn to Bernier against Flames

CALGARY, Alberta -- Playing the second of back-to-back games, the Los Angeles Kings are expected to start Jonathan Bernier against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday night.

Bernier will play in place of Jonathan Quick, who made 23 saves in a 3-1 win a night ago against the Edmonton Oilers -- his first win in four starts.

Coach Darryl Sutter didn’t confirm which goaltender would play, but captain Dustin Brown said the team has confidence in Bernier, making his fourth appearance of the season.

"That's the beauty of having two good goalies, especially on scenarios like this when you're playing back-to-back," Brown said. "Bernier's played well for us when he's gotten the opportunity this year. He's always come in and played well."


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Posted On Friday, 02.15.2013 / 3:05 PM

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

Horak back, likely to skate with Glencross, Iginla

CALGARY, Alberta -- Summoned yesterday from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League, Roman Horak is ready to slide back into the Calgary Flames lineup when they host the St. Louis Blues at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday night.

Horak, who played two games with the Flames to start the season, was recalled in place of Paul Byron, who suffered a fractured left hand just 2:51 into his first NHL game of the season.

"Obviously I was happy," Horak said. "On the other side, it's too bad for the club when guys get injured, but that's part of the game. Like I said, I was happy to be here and I appreciate the call."

The 21-year-old is expected to take Byron's spot between Curtis Glencross and captain Jarome Iginla.

"If I actually get the chance to play with those guys, it will be a big honor for me and hopefully we can click right off the start," Horak said.

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Posted On Friday, 02.15.2013 / 2:40 PM

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

Allen earns second consecutive start for Blues

CALGARY, Alberta -- Jake Allen will make his second consecutive start when the St. Louis Blues visit Scotiabank Saddledome to take on the Calgary Flames on Friday night.

Allen won his first career NHL start Wednesday in the Blues' 4-3 overtime victory over the Detroit Red Wings, snapping a five-game losing streak.

"It was a good feeling, especially getting off that slump we were on," Allen said. "Hopefully we can turn things around after the game. It was a big win. It was big for me. It was a good confidence boost."

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.13.2013 / 2:27 PM

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

Bachman expected to start for Stars vs. Flames

CALGARY, Alberta -- The Dallas Stars are expected to turn to start backup goalie Richard Bachman when they visit the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.

With Kari Lehtonen playing in Tuesday’s win against the Edmonton Oilers, Bachman will give the Stars' regular starter a rest in the second of back-to-back games.

In two games this season, Bachman is 0-1-0 with a 1.88 goals-against average and .944 save percentage.

Here is the rest of the lineup the Stars likely will use Wednesday:

Brenden Morrow - Jamie Benn - Jaromir Jagr

Loui Eriksson - Derek Roy - Michael Ryder

Reilly Smith - Cody Eakin - Tomas Vincour

Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Ryan Garbutt

Stephane Robidas - Brenden Dillon

Alex Goligoski - Philip Larsen

Aaron Rome - Trevor Daley

Richard Bachman

Kari Lehtonen

Injured: Ray Whitney

Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak, Antoine Roussel, Tom Wandell

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.13.2013 / 2:18 PM

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

Cammalleri back, Byron in as Flames host Stars

CALGARY, Alberta -- The Calgary Flames will welcome Michael Cammalleri back into the fold when they host the Dallas Stars on Wednesday at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Cammalleri, still seeking his first goal this season, was sidelined with a nagging hip flexor injury and missed Calgary's last three games. The injury offered Cammalleri a unique opportunity to refresh his season, according to Flames coach Bob Hartley.

"Injuries, they're not fun," he said. "You need to work out in the gym. You're basically removed from the team, but at the same time it gives you a chance to work on your conditioning, work on your game, think about your game and yes, I think that there's always values to maybe take a step back, do little reflections and tonight it's a new start for Cammy."

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Posted On Monday, 02.11.2013 / 3:28 PM

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

Flames turn back to Sarich for blue-line help

CALGARY, Alberta -- The Calgary Flames will have Cory Sarich in the lineup for the first time since Jan. 31 when they host the Minnesota Wild at Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday night.

Sarich, a healthy scratch for the last four games, is eager to make his presence felt on the Flames' blueline.

"Playing good defense is the No. 1 key and then trying to get some licks in when I can has always been a big part of my game," Sarich said. "I think I'm usually at my best when I'm playing physical."

For the most part this season, the Flames have rotated Sarich, Chris Butler and Derek Smith in and out of the lineup. Anton Babchuk, who is ready to return from an upper-body injury, further crowds the blue line.

Sarich, who will step in for Smith, is already used to the rotation.

"I've seen it enough now that I know what I need to do personally," he said. "Mentally I've dealt with it enough I think in and out of the lineup over the last couple years that this isn't going to phase me."

Though Sarich will see action tonight, forward Michael Cammalleri will not.

Cammalleri, who has missed the last two games with a hip flexor, is ruled out for the contest according to coach Bob Hartley and has been placed on the injured reserve list retroactive to Feb. 5.

"He's getting much better," Hartley said. "He skated yesterday and he's getting closer so he's on the ice this morning with us. Cammy's doing better, but he will not be in the lineup tonight."

Here is a look at who will take to the ice for the Flames when they face the Wild.

Curtis GlencrossAlex TanguayJarome Iginla

Jiri HudlerBen StreetRoman Cervenka

Blake ComeauMatt StajanLee Stempniak

Steve BeginBlair JonesTim Jackman

Mark GiordanoJay Bouwmeester

Dennis WidemanTJ Brodie

Chris ButlerCory Sarich

Scratched: Anton Babchuk, Derek Smith

Injured: Mikael Backlund, Sven Baertschi, Michael Cammalleri, Miikka Kiprusoff

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Posted On Monday, 02.11.2013 / 3:10 PM

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

Backstrom to start in goal for Wild

CALGARY -- Niklas Backstrom is expected to make his fifth consecutive start when the Minnesota Wild visit the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday.

Wild coach Mike Yeo confirmed Backstrom would start after the team's morning skate, but said he didn't have a plan beyond Monday, even with a game in Vancouver on Tuesday.

"Just going into [Monday] right now," Yeo said. "Spent very little time thinking about [Tuesday]. That's important for our entire group, that we're not thinking about last game or [Tuesday's] game. We're just ready to play against a team that we know is going to be hungry and come out hard."

With just five goals in their last four games, Devin Setoguchi said the Wild will rely heavily on a strong performance from their goaltender.

"You need good goaltending in this League and we've got it," Setoguchi said. "We're not scoring goals, definitely [Backstrom] needs to play good and he has been and we need to help him out here."

Yeo ruled out the return of defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who will miss his ninth consecutive game with a lower-body injury.

"He's getting closer, yeah," Yeo said. "Conditioning-wise he's looking good. Ideally I wish we had a few practices here to get him in and see how he's looking, but he's getting closer.”

Here is the lineup the Wild are expected to ice against the Flames:

Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle

Dany Heatley - Mikael Granlund - Devin Setoguchi

Matt Cullen - Kyle Brodziak - Cal Clutterbuck

Mike Rupp - Zenon Konopka - Pierre-Marc Bouchard

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Clayton Stoner - Tom Gilbert

Justin Falk - Nate Prosser

Niklas Backstrom

Josh Harding

Scratched: Matt Kassian, Torrey Mitchell, Marco Scandella

Injured: Jared Spurgeon

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Posted On Saturday, 02.02.2013 / 8:31 PM

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

Hawks will be without Bolland vs. Flames

CALGARY -- The Chicago Blackhawks will try to snap their two-game losing streak against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night, but they’ll have to do so without center Dave Bolland.

Bolland, who has three goals and four points in eight games this season, suffered a lower-body injury in the third period of Chicago's 2-1 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Friday and is day-to-day according to coach Joel Quenneville

"Bolly's out tonight," Quenneville said, adding he will continue to travel with the team to San Jose, where they face the Sharks on Tuesday.

"You're always concerned about the worst but he's not doing too bad today."

Bolland was anchoring the second line with Bryan Bickell andPatrick Kane. Not wanting to shake up his roster too much, Quenneville suggestedAndrew Shaw will be promoted to the second line while Marcus Kruger would also be promoted up the chart.

"We don't want to mix up too much if the lines," he said. "We'll probably move everybody up a line at center. Shawsy will probably move up in that spot. Krug's move up so everybody get maybe a little more quality."

Bolland's injury could mark the return of Jamal Mayers to the lineup. If Mayers does indeed draw in, he'll be skating in his 900th career National Hockey League game.

"He's had a nice career, the ultimate pro," Quenneville said. "It's not easy when you've got to sit a guy out like that knowing the leadership he brings your team, the way he competes and the experience factor. He's been handling it OK, but I know inside he wants to be playing in the worst way and it's nice to see him get back in the lineup"

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Posted On Saturday, 02.02.2013 / 2:11 PM

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

Emery expected to start for Blackhawks; Bolland out?

CALGARY, Alberta – Playing the second of back-to-back games and their third contest in four nights, the Chicago Blackhawks are expected to start Ray Emery against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.

Emery’s only start this season came in a 6-4 win against the Phoenix Coyotes on Jan. 20.

Chicago could find itself without Dave Bolland, however. Bolland took a slash from Jannik Hansen in the third period of the Blackhawks’ 2-1 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Friday and didn’t return to the game.

The team is expected to give an update on Bolland’s status later Saturday.

Bolland has three goals and four points in eight games this season centering Chicago’s second line with Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane.

With Bolland out, coach Joel Quinneville could shuffle his lines. Here is the lineup he could use when they visit the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsMarian Hossa

Bryan BickellPatrick SharpPatrick Kane

Brandon BolligAndrew ShawViktor Stalberg

Jamal MayersMarcus KrugerMichael Frolik

Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook

Niklas HjalmarssonJohnny Oduya

Sheldon BrookbankNick Leddy

Ray Emery

Corey Crawford

Injured; David Bolland, Daniel Carcillo

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Posted On Saturday, 02.02.2013 / 1:51 PM

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

Hartley to reunite top line vs. Blackhawks

CALGARY, Alberta – In an effort to jump-start an offense that has scored 14 goals in five games this season, Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley has reassembled one of the team’s most dangerous lines from a year ago as they host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.

Alex Tanguay, who shares the team lead with three goals and five points, will center captain Jarome Iginla and Michael Cammalleri in an effort to ignite the two wings who are both searching for their first goal this season.

“Sometimes you shuffle the deck a little bit and you create reactions,” Hartley said. “It's all trying to help him and trying to help a couple others, and at the same time it’s to find the right combinations to allow us to win some hockey games.”

The combination meshed well a season ago after Cammalleri was acquired in January.

“We’ve had some success in the past playing together and I enjoy playing with both of them. Cammy is a very competitive guy,” said Iginla, who leads Calgary with 22 shots. “He’s a very smart hockey player. He gets himself into shooting positions and he creates a lot. Playing with him, we’re both going to try to shoot the puck.”

The Flames will also welcome defenseman Derek Smith back to the lineup, who was a healthy scratch against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. Cory Sarich will sit in his place.

Here is the lineup the Flames will likely use when they host the Blackhawks at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday:

Michael CammalleriAlex TanguayJarome Iginla

Curtis GlencrossMikael BacklundLee Stempniak

Jiri HudlerMatt StajanRoman Cervenka

Blair JonesSteve BeginBlake Comeau

Jay BouwmeesterMark Giordano

Dennis WidemanTJ Brodie

Derek SmithChris Butler

Miikka Kiprusoff

Leland Irving

Injured: Anton Babchuk, Sven Baertschi

Scratched: Tim, Jackman, Cory Sarich

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 2:28 PM

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

Avs expected to give Giguere first start of season

CALGARY, Alberta -- Jean-Sebastien Giguere is expected to get his first start of the season Thursday night when the Colorado Avalanche visit Scotiabank Saddledome to take on the Calgary Flames.

In his only appearance this year, Giguere kicked aside 17 shots in relief of Semyon Varlamov in Colorado's 4-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks Saturday.

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog remains questionable to face the Flames.

Here are Colorado's lines as the Avalanche look to snap a three-game losing streak against the Flames:

Jamie McGinnMatt DuchenePA Parenteau

John MitchellPaul StastnyDavid Jones

Chuck KobasewMichael SgarbossaMilan Hejduk

Cody McLeodMark OlverPatrick Bordeleau

Erik JohnsonRyan Wilson

Greg ZanonMatt Hunwick

Ryan O'ByrneJan Hejda

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Semyon Varlamov

Scratched: Tyson Barrie, Shane O'Brien

Injured: Steve Downie, Gabriel Landeskog

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 2:10 PM

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

Flames' Baertschi out 'week-to-week'

CALGARY, Alberta -- Rookie Sven Baertschi will be out of the lineup when the Calgary Flames host the Colorado Avalanche at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday.

Baertschi suffered a hip flexor injury in practice Tuesday and is listed by the team as week-to-week.

"I was skating and my left skate seemed to have caught a rut in the ice and my legs kind of went into a splits position," Baertschi said in a statement. "I felt pain immediately and left the ice to have it checked. It’s very disappointing to learn that it’s a hip flexor injury that will keep me out of the lineup.”

Coach Bob Hartley said he will soldier on without the 20-year-old.

"You can't win with the players you don't have," Hartley said. "You play with the 20 bodies that you have in your lineup. Sven is capable of many great things, but we believe in everyone in this lineup. It's not a one-man show. It's about being a team. There's always a good and a bad part to injuries. The bad part is the player can't play. The good part, it gives opportunities to others to get some roles, to get some responsibilities."

Here are the Flames' lines against the Avalanche as Calgary looks for its second consecutive win of the season:

Curtis GlencrossAlex TanguayJarome Iginla

Lee StempniakMikael BacklundMichael Cammalleri

Jiri HudlerMatt StajanRoman Cervenka

Blake ComeauBlair JonesTim Jackman

Jay BouwmeesterMark Giordano

Dennis WidemanTJ Brodie

Cory SarichChris Butler

Miikka Kiprusoff

Leland Irving

Injured: Anton Babchuk, Sven Baertschi

Scratched: Steve Begin, Derek Smith

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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 3:05 PM

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

Hordichuk ready to add toughness to Alberta rivalry

CALGARY, Alberta – With the "Battle Of Alberta" considered among the League's most physical rivalries, Edmonton Oilers coach Ralph Krueger has opted to install one of the team’s tougher forwards into the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Calgary Flames.

Darcy Hordichuk will see his first action of the season when the Oilers visit the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome, and the six-foot, one-inch forward is expecting to spice up what should be a spirited affair between the provincial rivals.

"I think that’s why they’re putting me in there, to bring that physicality," Hordichuk said. "It’s going to be a fun game to play and every time we play these guys they’ve been a tough team to play against."

Hordichuk will also be tasked with keeping an eye on some of the Oilers’ young stars. With Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov all in the lineup, it’s Hordichuk’s responsibility to make sure the opposition doesn’t take liberties with Edmonton’s core.

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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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Posted On Wednesday, 03.28.2012 / 2:50 PM

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

Flames sticking to motto: 'Every game matters'

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames have preached their season-long motto, "Every game matters."
 
With five games remaining, the anthem has never held truer for the 11th-place Flames. Calgary currently sits two points behind the Phoenix Coyotes, the current residents of the eighth and final berth in the Western Conference's playoff picture.
 
But Calgary isn't looking at the big picture when it comes down to their final five games. With the Los Angeles Kings in town -- another team they're trying to chase down -- the Flames are taking a day-by-day approach to extend their season.
 
"You just have to take it one day at a time," Matt Stajan said. "Today's the game we're focused on. This is fun. We've got to win today to keep this going. We know where we're at. We put ourselves in this position."
 
Forgive the Flames if they sound like a broken record. The club has been preaching the motto for the last half-dozen games. It's been true throughout.
 
"The schedule is winding down and these games are massive with the standings situation," coach Brent Sutter said. "Tonight now becomes the biggest game of the season. When it's over, the next one will."
 
Which makes every game a must, according to captain Jarome Iginla.
 
"For us, we need to have this one," Iginla said. "We needed our last one. We go in with the same mindset. We play, we play hard, and we play confident.
 
"A lot of people have written us off, but from our point of view it's just about this game. If we get this one, a lot of pressure shifts to other teams and we just try to claw back in and keep going."
 
Winning Monday over the Dallas Stars -- another opponent in reach -- to snap a five-game losing streak, Calgary hopes to build on a newfound momentum.
 
"You try to get your emotional level there every night," Stajan said. "It doesn't matter what point of the year you're at. You can't lose. You have to be ready to go this time of year."
 
Because if they're not, the Flames will find themselves further on the outs when it comes to the chase in the wild West.
 
Here's the projected lineup 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 - Clay Wilson
 
Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson
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Posted On Monday, 03.26.2012 / 3:48 PM

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

Dallas' playoff fate is in the Stars

CALGARY -- The fate of the Dallas Stars lies within.
 
The fate of the Calgary Flames could lie in the Stars, too. A Dallas win over the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday night would all but put an end to the playoff aspirations in Calgary.
 
Stars forward Eric Nystrom is well aware of that.
 
"We know we have a chance to put a team that's competing with us out of the picture -- or almost out of the picture," Nystrom said. "It's huge. We're battling for our lives just like they are. You just have to win hockey games."
 
The Stars currently hold down top spot in the Pacific Division, but are just four points up on the 11th place Flames with the Phoenix Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche scattered in between.
 
"We know what the standings are, we know what our position is, we know what we're trying to accomplish," Sheldon Souray said. "We'll take it one game at a time, and if it means going through Calgary and having one less team in there, perfect. Every night we have our work cut out for us, but obviously the fewer teams in there the better our chances are."
 
But a win over Calgary isn't all about ending the Flames hopes, according to Jamie Benn.
 
"We know what we can do, but the biggest picture is the two points and that's what we're going for," he said. "We have to keep climbing, keep playing our game, and hopefully have a strong push for the playoffs."
 
A strong push from here on out is critical if the Stars hope to have success given the proximity of how teams are situated.
 
"We're sitting in a position where everything is so ridiculously tight," Steve Ott said. "Their life is on their line. Our life is on our line as well. There are only so many games and so many points left in the season. The tightness is only going to continue to go until Game 82.
 
"If we continue to get points we'll figure it out by the end of the standings. It puts us in control of our own destiny."
 
It's something Stars coach Glen Gulutzan has been preaching to his club.
 
"We've got to help ourselves," Gulutzan said. "Anytime you start worrying about those other teams they keep winning. We've really had to look internally in our group to make sure we get points. Truthfully in our locker room all we're talking about is getting points. We've got to get points in every game we play. We can't look around and watch scoreboards."
 
It boils down to simple math to Nystrom.
 
"If you win, you're in," he said. "That's the way it works the whole year. It's no different right now. If we win games we're going to be in the playoffs."
 
And if the team happens to dismiss a few opponents along the way?
 
"It's nothing personal," said Nystrom, a former member of the Flames. "This is my team. I want us to make it. That's just an opponent that's standing in our way. It's nothing personal against them. I want my team to make it."
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Posted On Monday, 03.26.2012 / 3:12 PM

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

Flames focused on winning out

CALGARY -- The playoff fate of the Calgary Flames is simple -- win out and get in.
 
Trailing the eighth and final playoff spot by three points with six games remaining coupled with having to leapfrog three teams, the 11th place Flames have set their sights on winning their remaining games in order to extend their season.
 
But the Flames can't win six if they don't first win one.
 
"We know we pretty much have to run the table, but it's with one game," captain Jarome Iginla said. "As far as the way we're thinking positively, we've been in a drought, but the tide will turn and we all have to approach it that it'll be tonight."
 
The Flames host the Dallas Stars, a team that took two points away from Calgary in the first of a home-and-home series Saturday. Another loss against the Stars puts the playoffs all but out of reach.
 
"The focus is to win tonight," Matt Stajan said. "If we don't win tonight, nothing else matters. That's our focus. We've got to be ready to go and treat it like Game 7 and go from there. The next game will be a Game 7, but you can't look past tonight."
 
A favorable schedule, Calgary will play the majority of their remaining games at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
 
"We've got six games left," winger Curtis Glencross said. "We're not out of it yet. We have five home games and we have to take advantage of it."
 
Iginla agreed.
 
"We have these games at home and we have this week at home," Iginla said. "It starts with tonight. We've got a shot, but we've got to win our own games. No matter how much help we get, we have to win our own games, and that's what our focus has to be."
 
Winning six straight is a daunting task for the Flames, whose season-high five-game winning streak in early March has given way to a five-game skid. Though they've earned points in three of their five losses, Calgary hasn't seen the win column since March 15.
 
“These last five games, we've went into them knowing how big each game is, we know where the standings are, and they haven't turned out well for us, obviously," Iginla said. "Now we just go play. As far as squeezing sticks, teams run into tough stretches where you have a hard time scoring goals. It turns. We need it to turn now. We know the time is running out and we need to get ourselves on a roll. We think it's going to turn."
 
It just has to start with one.
 
"The best way is to win one hockey game and we'll see what happens from there," Tim Jackman said. "All of a sudden you win two. Then you win three.
 
"We believe we can do this. We have the team. We just have to win one game and we'll take things from there."
 
Because if they can't, the Flames will find themselves watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third consecutive year.
 
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Posted On Monday, 03.26.2012 / 2:54 PM

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

Stars will be without services of 'warrior' Dvorak

CALGARY -- The Dallas Stars will be without veteran winger Radek Dvorak as the club enters the back-end of a home-and-home series with the Calgary Flames.
 
Dvorak, who missed three games in early March before returning for three, is battling ankle issues that will keep him out of the contest.
 
"What a warrior," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "Seventeen years in this League and getting shot up every night in the ankle to get through. He had some aggravation in the last game, so if we sit him here, that's four days."
 
Dvorak could return to the lineup as quickly as Wednesday in Edmonton, Gulutzan said.
 
"Maybe he can be ready for Edmonton," he said. "If not, we can go another two more and get a healthier player. Sixty-five percent when you have healthy bodies, it's easier to put a guy in that’s 100 and try to get Devo to 80."

Either Tom Wandell or Ryan Garbutt will draw into the lineup in Dvorak's absence.

Gulutzan is pleased with the impression Dvorak has left on his team.
 
"He's showing these guys what it takes to be a pro in the NHL," Gulutzan said. "I can't say enough about Dvorak. We have a young Czech kid, Tomas Vincour, who has matured probably five years from just the six months he spent with Devo. What a pro. He's done everything you want of a veteran guy for mentorship for young players. He's an invaluable guy for our locker room."
 
Dvorak isn't the only player who may make an appearance against the Oilers.
 
The Stars could also have college signing Reilly Smith on the ice as soon as Edmonton as well. Dallas signed the 20-year-old Sunday.
 
"He's got to do immigration, so I don't know how long that takes," Gulutzan said. "(Edmonton) is a possibility depending on how we're playing. Right now, the focus is on the group, not any individual. We want to make sure if we put him in, it's the right time and place to do it."
 
Smith, who is with the team in Calgary, had 30 goals and 48 points in 39 games with Miami University (Ohio) this season and was originally selected by the Stars in the third round (No. 69) in 2009.

Here's the projected lineup for the Stars:

Loui Eriksson - Mike Ribeiro - Michael Ryder
Brenden Morrow - Jamie Benn - Steve Ott
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Tom Wandell/Ryan Garbutt
Jake Dowell - Tom Wandell - Adam Burish
 
Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Trevor Daley - Adam Pardy
Philip Larsen - Alex Goligoski
 
Kari Lehtonen
Richard Bachman
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Posted On Monday, 03.26.2012 / 1:54 PM

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

Sarich remains out for back end of home-and-home

CALGARY -- In a game that will rival playoff intensity, the Calgary Flames will be missing one of their most battle-tested blueliners.
 
The Flames will not have veteran defenseman Cory Sarich in the lineup for the game. He has missed the last two games after suffering an upper-body injury in a big collision with David Jones of the Colorado Avalanche.
 
"He's not available for us tonight," coach Brent Sutter confirmed after Calgary's morning skate.
 
Tim Jackman on the other hand, is.
 
Jackman, a healthy scratch for Calgary's Saturday afternoon tilt against the Stars, is ready to go in what is certain to be a playoff atmosphere with the Flames clinging to their playoff hopes.

"I'm not 100 percent sure yet," Jackman said. "We'll wait and see."
 
The rugged winger is hoping to be a part of the festivities after missing the first half of the home-and-home series.
 
"Obviously I wanted to be in there in that game," Jackman said. "You can tell it was going to be an intense game. Tonight will be the same way."
 
The Flames do expect Olli Jokinen to be in the lineup tonight. Jokinen was noticeably absent from the team's morning skate.
 
"It's a maintenance morning for him," Sutter said. "We just wanted him to be ready for tonight."
 
Jokinen is second on the Flames in scoring with 58 points, but has been held scoreless in his last seven games.
 
Here is the projected lineup for the Flames:

Alex Tanguay - Michael Cammalleri - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - David Moss
Blake Comeau - Matt Stajan - Lee Stempniak
Tim Jackman - Blair Jones - Tom Kostopoulos
 
Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
Clay Wilson - Anton Babchuk
 
Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson
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Posted On Sunday, 03.18.2012 / 2:27 PM

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

Blue Jackets playing spoiler role in Calgary

CALGARY – Though their playoff hopes are dashed, the Columbus Blue Jackets can put a dent in the postseason aspirations of another team Sunday night.
 
The Blue Jackets are set to square off against the Calgary Flames, who currently hold down the 11th spot in the Western Conference. The Flames sit just two points back of the eighth-place San Jose Sharks.
 
With a win, the Blue Jackets will not only halt a four-game losing skid extended Saturday night by a 4-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, but can also damper the hopes of a Calgary club that is coming off a 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers Friday.
 
To be successful, Columbus will need a strong effort from their top line of RJ Umberger, Derick Brassard and Rick Nash. The trio has failed to find the score sheet during their losing skid, with Nash, the Columbus captain, failing to record a point in six straight. 
 
Projected lineup

R.J. UmbergerDerick BrassardRick Nash
Vinny ProspalMark LetestuCam Atkinson
Colton GilliesRyan JohansenDerek Dorsett
Ryan RussellDarryl BoyceJared Boll
 
Jack JohnsonJames Wisniewski
Aaron JohnsonNikita Nikitin
John Moore – Bret Lebda
 
Steve Mason
Curtis Sanford
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Posted On Sunday, 03.18.2012 / 2:23 PM

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

Flames control their playoff destiny

CALGARY – Whether or not the Calgary Flames make the playoffs is up to them.
 
Currently on the outside looking in at the Western Conference playoff picture, the Flames have five of their remaining 10 games against teams they are chasing, or chasing away, in the race.
 
And with little help on the out of town scoreboard of late, Calgary is more than happy to handle the dirty work.
 
“We have to worry about ourselves in here,” Curtis Glencross said. “You’re watching every night, you’re watching to see what’s going on around the league. The ultimate goal at the end of the night is we come in here and do our part and that’s all we can ask for.
 
“We’ve got to go one period and one game at a time.”
 
The Flames will see both the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars twice before the season closes and will go head-to-head with the Los Angeles Kings once. All three teams currently sit ahead of Calgary in the standings, though a win by the Flames over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday night at Scotiabank Saddledome can change all that.
 
In the jumbled playoff picture the Flames, currently 11th in the West, trail the Phoenix Coyotes by one point, while two points separate Calgary from the Kings and San Jose Sharks. The difference between the club and both Colorado and Dallas sits at three. 
 
“We can wake up tomorrow morning and the standings will be completely different and then the next day wake up again and they’ll be completely different again,” coach Brent Sutter said. “Worry about yourselves and take care of yourselves – it’s what you can control. If you’re doing what you need to do, you’ll get to where you need to get to.”
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Posted On Sunday, 03.18.2012 / 2:13 PM

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

Flames getting healthier with Stempniak return

CALGARY – The return of forward Lee Stempniak has allowed Calgary Flames coach Brent Sutter to shuffle the deck.
 
Missing 21 consecutive games with an ankle injury, Stempniak is set to return to the Flames in the midst of their playoff push Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, skating alongside David Moss and Blake Comeau.
 
“For me to come in, I’m excited,” Stempniak said. “I can’t wait to get back and I think it’s a great way to jump into it.
 
“It’s tough being out. The hardest part is mentally, knowing you can’t be out there and being patient and doing all the little things right to make sure you get back on time. I think emotionally, you’re really excited to be back. You want to be in there and make a difference when you can.”
 
The shake-up moves Moss back to center, a position he’s rarely played since returning from his own injury earlier in the month.
 
“Wherever (Sutter) wants me to play,” Moss said. “It might not last. Last game I was playing left wing, center, right wing so tonight it’s the middle and I’m looking forward to it.”
 
The line gives Sutter another trio that he can be comfortable with in all situations as the Flames look to make ground in a difficult Western Conference playoff chase.
 
“It gives you another line that you can put together that has some experience and give us a little size there with Mosser moving to center,” Sutter said.
 
With Stempniak returning to the lineup and Lance Bouma (upper-body) and Tim Jackman (shoulder) nearing return, there is light at the end of the tunnel for Calgary’s sick bay – currently inhabited by seven players.
 
“We get one guy back so it’s encouraging,” Sutter said. “It’s an encouraging day, just being able to slowly get through this and get this guys back that can provide us with some experience.”
 
Projected lineup

Alex TanguayMatt StajanJarome Iginla
Curtis GlencrossOlli JokinenTom Kostopoulos
Lee StempniakDavid MossBlake Comeau
Greg NemiszRoman HorakGuillaume Desbiens
 
Jay BouwmeesterDerek Smith
Mark GiordanoScott Hannan
Cory SarichAnton Babchuk
 
Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson
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Posted On Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 2:36 PM

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

Aucoin, Vrbata are question marks for Coyotes

CALGARY -- The Phoenix Coyotes could be without a pair of important pieces to their playoff puzzle in the second of back-to-back games against the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome Thursday.
 
Both Adrian Aucoin and Radim Vrbata are questionable for the game, an important contest in the Western Conference playoff picture. The Coyotes are currently seventh in the West and hold a three-point advantage over the Flames at 81.
 
Vrbata missed the 5-4 victory over Vancouver Wednesday due to illness and is considered day-to-day by the club.
 
Aucoin did suit up against the Canucks, but did not finish the game, which could pave the way for either Michael Stone or Derek Morris to return to the lineup. Stone was a healthy scratch for the Coyotes, while Morris hasn’t played since Feb. 11 due to personal reasons.
 
Either could play in front of goaltender Mike Smith, who is expected to start against Calgary. Smith has started 13 of the previous 14 games for the Coyotes.
 
Here's the projected lineup for the Coyotes:

Ray Whitney - Antoine Vermette - Gilbert Brule
Raffi Torres - Daymond Langkow - Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt - Boyd Gordon - Lauri Korpikoski
Mikkel Boedker - Marc-Antoine Pouliot - Paul Bissonnette
 
Keith Yandle - David Schlemko
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michal Rozsival
Rostislav Klesla - Michael Stone
 
Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera
 
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Posted On Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 2:10 PM

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

Flames close to getting Stempniak, Bouma back

CALGARY -- Help is on the way for the Calgary Flames.
 
The list of eight players on the injured reserve list will soon shrink with the pending returns of Lee Stempniak and Lance Bouma. Unfortunately for the Flames, though, that will not happen Thursday night when they host the Phoenix Coyotes at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
 
Both Bouma and Stempniak took the game-day skate, but will not play against the Coyotes, who hold a three-point edge on Calgary in the Western Conference playoff chase.
 
"To be able to get out there and skate, it felt good," said Bouma, who has missed four games with an upper-body injury. "We'll take it day-by-day and see how it feels as it goes on. Today was good; the practice was good. We'll see how it goes."
 
After missing 19 games with an ankle injury, Stempniak is in a similar situation.
 
"I'm more day-to-day then week-to-week," Stempniak said. "I feel good. I think at some point I'll do more practice and do more contact and see how it is. At that point it will be coach's decision."
 
Coach Brent Sutter pegged Stempniak as the next to return from the sick bay.
 
"Probably Stemps is the closest out of everyone right now, as long as he has no setbacks," Sutter said. "They're both getting real close."
 
The return of either would spell the end of junior recall Sven Baertschi, up on an emergency basis from the WHL's Portland Winterhawks. He will be forced to return to juniors as soon as either is healthy.
 
"After the next guy, if things stay as is and the next guy gets healthy enough to return and he's at the level he needs to be to get back in our lineup, then Baertsch will have to go down," Sutter said. "It's just the way the rules work."
 
Fully aware, the 19-year-old has handled the situation maturely.
 
"That's the tough part of it," said Baertschi, who has 2 goals in three games since his recall. "Not everyone can do what I did so far here. I just got really lucky. It's an exciting time for me. I just enjoy it day-by-day. When I have to go back, I'll go back and do the same thing in Portland."
 
Here's the projected lineup for the Flames:

Alex Tanguay - Matt Stajan - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - David Moss
Tom Kostopoulos - Greg Nemisz - Blake Comeau
Sven Baertschi - Roman Horak - Guillaume Desbiens
 
Jay Bouwmeester - Cory Sarich
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
Derek Smith - Anton Babchuk
 
Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving
 
 
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Posted On Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 2:26 PM

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

Sharks can swim back into West's top eight

Less than 24 hours after defeating the Edmonton Oilers to collect a pair of key points, the San Jose Sharks will try for a sweep of Alberta on Tuesday night against the Calgary Flames.
 
The ninth-place Sharks can vault themselves into seventh with a win over the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. A win will not come easy with the Flames also battling for their playoff lives. Calgary trails the Sharks by just one point heading into the contest.
 
The Sharks, who are just 3-5-2 in their past 10 games, have a game in hand over the Flames, three more than eighth-place Colorado Avalanche and two over the Phoenix Coyotes, who hold down the seventh spot in the West.
 
Here is the projected lineup for the Sharks:

Patrick MarleauJoe ThorntonJoe Pavelski
Ryane CloweLogan coutureTommy Wingels
Daniel WinnikDominic MooreTorrey Mitchell
Andrew DesjardinsMichal HandzusTJ Galiardi
 
Dan BoyleMarc-Edouard Vlasic
Douglas MurrayBrent Burns
Jason DemersColin White
 
Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss
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Posted On Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 2:08 PM

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

Calgary's Comeau could return for critical contest

CALGARY – Blake Comeau won’t admit to watching the out-of-town scoreboard as the Calgary Flames attempt to chase down a playoff berth.
 
Comeau, who could be back for Calgary's game Tuesday with the San Jose Sharks after missing four with a shoulder injury, would prefer to take care of his own backyard instead.
 
“I don’t know how much we’re paying attention to it,” Comeau said. “We play a lot of the teams we’re in the race with still and I think if we take care of ourselves we’ll be alright.”
 
Trailing the Colorado Avalanche by just two points for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference, Flames coach Brent Sutter gathers everyone is keeping one eye on what other teams are doing around them, whether they’ll admit it or not.
 
“I think they all watch it, they just tell you differently,” Sutter said. “I find it hard to believe that no one isn’t keeping track on what other teams are doing too. Obviously we need to take care of our own business because everything else is irrelevant unless we do.”
 
 With the Sharks in town, Calgary has the opportunity to not only better posture in the playoff picture, but can also hinder San Jose’s chances. Just one point separates the two clubs in the standings.
 
“It seems like the last month we’ve had a lot of those games,” Comeau said. “We know how important this game is. It’s not going to come easy. It’s an important game for them as well. We’re going to have to be ready for a playoff-type atmosphere for this game.”
 
That could make the perfect setting for Comeau’s return.
 
“No one wants to be sitting in the stands watching so I’m excited to get back,” he said. “I feel good. The end decision is with Brent. I’m going to prepare like I’m in tonight but we’ll see what happens.”
 
Here is the projected lineup for the Flames:
 
Curtis GlencrossOlli JokinenDavid Moss
Alex TanguayMatt StajanJarome Iginla
Sven BaertschiTom KostopoulosBlake Comeau
Guillaume Desbiens/Krys KolanosRoman HorakGreg Nemisz
 
Jay BouwmeesterCory Sarich
Mark GiordanoScott Hannan
Anton BabchukDerek Smith
 
Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson
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Posted On Friday, 03.09.2012 / 3:23 PM

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

Revved-up Baertschi ready for NHL debut

CALGARY -- Sven Baertschi has had two nights to mull over his National Hockey League debut with the Calgary Flames.
 
He didn't get much sleep in either of them.
 
The Portland Winterhawks standout admitted that, with his first game just hours away, catching up on sleep during his afternoon nap isn't likely.
 
"It's really hard to describe how I feel right now," Baertschi said. "It's pure excitement and a little bit nervous, but I'm pretty sure I won't be able to nap this afternoon. I'm just going to lay in bed and try to relax and settle things down."
 
An emergency recall from the Western Hockey League after a rash of injuries has ravaged the Flames' lineup, Baertschi is getting his professional career underway sooner than expected. It hasn't allowed the Langenthal, Switzerland product much time to prepare.
 
That's fine, said the reigning WHL player of the week.
 
"Probably better because it's my dream," Baertschi said. "I'm just a couple hours away and it's a really exciting time. It's the same as celebrating Christmas with your family."
 
Captain Jarome Iginla is interested in seeing what kind of youthful exuberance Baertschi will bring in his first taste of the big leagues.
 
"I wouldn't be too surprised if you see him out there a lot," Iginla said. "It's nice to see the young guys bring that enthusiasm and energy and excitement. On the guys, we build on it."
 
Baertschi is expected to play on a line with fellow Flames' first-round pick Greg Nemisz and veteran Tom Kostopoulos. Kostopolous, who played in his 600th NHL game in Tuesday's win over the Montreal Canadiens, will do what he can to keep the call-up level.
 
"I'll be yapping in his ear all game about nothing important, but everyone here just wants him to have fun and relax and enjoy it as much as possible," Kostopoulos said. "Sometimes talking too much is counterproductive. I'll help him out when I can, but we all just want to see him play and see what he can do."
 
The mandate for Baertschi from coach Brent Sutter is simple -- enjoy.
 
"Number one is I want him to enjoy the fact that this is his first professional game," Sutter said. "It's something I want him to remember and have good memories about it."
 
And undoubtedly, sweet dreams.
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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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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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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 2:36 PM

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

Cammalleri becomes center of attention for Flames

CALGARY -- Michael Cammalleri has become the center of attention for the Calgary Flames.

With the loss of Mikael Backlund for upwards of eight weeks in Calgary's 3-2 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday and with five other forwards on injured reserve, a depleted Flames squad will see Cammalleri down the middle between Tom Kostopoulos and Blake Comeau.

The adjustment to center will be one of ease for Cammalleri, said coach Brent Sutter.

"I'm not too worried about it, to be honest," Sutter said. "I think Cammie is going to handle it just fine. I'm fine with his wingers because they can play down low, too, if they need to. The three of the guys together are smart players and are responsible players."

Kostopoulos, who has been centered by Cammalleri before, agreed.

"He's too smart of a player for it to be difficult for him," he said. "I don't see it being a problem for him. He's a fun guy to play with. He's very talented and creative out there, and he is definitely the type of guy who makes his wingers better. It should be fun."

The Flames have recalled Paul Byron in Backlund's absence. Byron will know what to expect, having played 18 games this year with Calgary.

"I'm happy about the call-up," Byron said. "It's unfortunate that guys have to get hurt, but it's an opportunity for someone else. Other guys have to step up."

Calgary, which has lost 242 games due to injury this season, could be without Scott Hannan, who is battling the flu. That could open the door for the return of Anton Babchuk, who hasn't played since Jan. 17, a span of nine games.

Here is the Flames' projected lineup:

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

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

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving
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Posted On Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 2:51 PM

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

Kesler OK to play for Cancuks

The Vancouver Canucks will have forward Ryan Kesler in the lineup tonight against the division-rival Calgary Flames.

Kesler didn’t practice with the Canucks in Calgary yesterday, but confirmed his absence was a result of a maintenance day and not one of a more serious note.

“Good oil change,” Kesler said. “Topped up the fluids. It was a good day, a good rest day for me.”
 
Roberto Luongo, who backed up Cory Schneider in Vancouver’s 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild Thursday, will get the call between the pipes.

He’s looking forward to extending the Canucks’ winning streak at the Scotiabank Saddledome to six. The last time Vancouver lost in Calgary was Oct. 16, 2009, outscoring the Flames 24-9 during the span.

“It’s a fun building to play in for us,” Luongo said. “It’s a good rivalry with these guys and they always make for some good games. There isn’t one specific element I can say but guys enjoy playing here and we like the atmosphere in this building.”

Kesler agreed.

“We prepare really well for these guys,” Kesler said. “We know it’s going to be a tough game, a battle. I think that’s why we’re so successful. We know it’s going to be a hard-nosed game.”

Here is the projected lineup for the Canucks:

Daniel SedinHenrik SedinByron Bitz
David BoothRyan KeslerAlexandre Burrows
Mason RaymondManny MalhotraJannik Hansen
Maxim LapierreCody HodgsonMike Duco

Dan HamhuisKevin Bieksa
Alexander EdlerSami Salo
Andrew AlbertsAaron Rome

Roberto Luongo
Cory Schneider
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Posted On Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 2:28 PM

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

Flames' Jones out with broken ankle

Calgary Flames forward Blair Jones could only call it a bad break.

Blocking a shot while killing a penalty in Calgary’s 2-1 overtime loss against the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night, Jones will miss significant time with an ankle fracture while the Flames are pushing for a playoff position.

“I had some x-rays done and it’s a broken ankle,” Jones said. “I don’t really know how long it’s going to take. It’s a tough break, especially at this time of the year. It’s an exciting time to play – pushing hard to get into the playoffs. It’s very frustrating. You kind of feel helpless.”

Jones knew immediately something was wrong after taking Ray Whitney’s slap shot off the foot.

“Sometimes when you block them it stings and you limp around but then the feeling comes back and you can manage to move around,” Jones said. “I couldn’t. I was leaning on my stick to try to stand up. I had no feeling in it. It was pretty bad.”

Calgary captain Jarome Iginla knows there is no downplaying the loss of Jones.

“It’s a big loss, there’s no question about that,” Iginla said. “We’ve ran into our share this year. We’ve found a way to hang in there and we’re going to have to keep doing that. It’s an opportunity for our younger guys.”

One of those younger guys is 20-year-old Roman Horak, recalled Friday to take Jones’ spot in the lineup as Calgary gets set to face the Vancouver Canucks. Horak has played 42 games with the Flames this season, recording two goals and nine points.

Horak, who actually played Thursday in the Scotiabank Saddledome as a member of the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat, had a quick return to Calgary.

“It was crazy. We woke up at 5 in the morning (Friday) and flew to Abbotsford,” said Horak, who is now situated between Iginla and Michael Cammalleri in the dressing room. “When I finally got home I got the call and was told I was coming back.

“I’m excited, for sure. It’s always a big honor to get called up every time and I’m going to try to do my best on the ice.”

Here is the projected lineup for the Flames:

Alex TanguayOlli JokinenJarome Iginla
Michael CammalleriMikael BacklundBlake Comeau
Lance BoumaRoman HorakKrys Kolanos
Tom KostopoulosMatt StajanTim Jackman

Jay BouwmeesterChris Butler
Mark GiordanoScott Hannan
TJ BrodieCory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving
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Posted On Thursday, 02.09.2012 / 4:08 PM

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

Flames prospects excited for AHL clash in Calgary

CALGARY -- Skating on the ice at Scotiabank Saddledome is nothing new for Paul Byron.

Doing so in an Abbotsford Heat jersey is.

Returning to the Stampede City as a member of the Flames’ AHL affiliate, Byron will skate alongside his Heat teammates against the Oklahoma City Barons in a home game – of sorts – in Calgary. It will be the lone game Abbotsford plays in the Flames’ rink this season.

“It feels good to be back,” said Byron. “I’ve played a few games here.”

Eighteen, to be exact, and Byron isn’t the only Abbotsford skater able to make that claim. He is one of nine Heat players to be recalled by Calgary at some point this season and see time in the NHL with the Flames. Four currently remain with the parent club.
 
Opportunities within the Calgary organization have never been made more readily available than this year. Often criticized in the past for the lack of promotion the club has done within the organization, the argument certainly no longer holds merit.

And it’s made for a more motivated player pool for the Flames to draw from.

“It helps everyone on the team,” Byron said. “Everyone is motivated. Everyone knows they could be the guy to get called up. We’ve had a ton of guys come up and down this year. We’ve got (four) guys that started the year with our team up there now. It’s a great motivator in the room.”

Heat coach Troy Ward has had the unenviable task of trying to play without some of his best players largely in part to frequent callups by the Flames. He’s not the least bit offended, though. In fact, he’s pleased by it.

“Here’s what you’re proud of for me, the management team in Calgary made a statement to these guys, if you do what you’re supposed to do, you’ll get rewarded,” Ward said. “I’ve been in a lot of organizations – that’s not always the case. The organization has stuck behind its word.”

No truer are Ward’s words than in the likes of TJ Brodie, who has become a mainstay on the Flames blueline. Brodie, averaging 16:53 in ice time, has 11 points in 40 games and has likely left Abbotsford in the rear view permanently.

Another example is Krys Kolanos, who missed 22 months of hockey while battling injury. On a minor-league deal to start the season with Abottsford, Kolanos was signed and promptly promoted last week by the Flames after recording 40 points in 34 games with the Heat this season.

“We’ve had some young guys like a Brodie that started with us that probably will never come back,” Ward said. “At the same time we’ve had Kolanos, who hadn’t played in (22) months, earn himself a contract. They’ve had both ends of the extreme. The management team up above with Jay and company has managed it that way and it’s a rewarding system.”

Don’t think the players in Abbotsford haven’t noticed the reward, either.
 
“Anyone can get a call at any given time,” said Ryan Howse, the Flames third pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. “It’s encouraging for everyone. You’ve got guys coming up and staying up for a while. Just to see the movement this year is something special and says a lot about our team and even our coaching staff. Everyone has done a good job preparing our guys.”

For Akim Aliu, the thought is extra enticing. Bouncing around in the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets organizations after being drafted in 2007, Aliu is thrilled at what he sees with the Flames after being acquired by the club 10 days ago.

“This is one of the best places in the league to be right now as a young guy,” Aliu said. “There’s been a lot of opportunity with guys coming up, and not just for a short period of time. Guys have stuck around for a bit.”

For players like Aliu, Howse and Ben Walter who haven’t got the call yet, the game in Calgary is much like an introduction on what to expect. Sharing the same facility as the Flames and getting the opportunity to play in front of the ‘C of Red’ has Heat hopefuls thrilled.

“Everyone is pretty excited,” Walter said. “It’s a great opportunity for all of us. This is our parent team and we get to play in their building in front of their fans.”

Howse certainly agrees with his teammate.

“It’s going to be really exciting,” Howse said. “The environment and dressing over here and using the weight room and playing in front of (Flames) fans, you’re going to have that energy. There’s going to be a lot of excitement.”

And excitement is building around the opportunity to one day achieve the dream of reaching the NHL – as a member of the Calgary Flames.

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Posted On Friday, 02.03.2012 / 3:21 PM

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

Kolanos thankful for another NHL opportunity

CALGARY -- Krys Kolanos has waited nearly three years for another opportunity – two years, 10 months and 4 days to be exact.

After signing a two-year, two-way contract Wednesday with the Calgary Flames, Kolanos was one step closer to returning to National Hockey League ice.

That step will be taken Friday night.

Kolanos, whose last NHL outing came on March 31, 2009, as a member of the Minnesota Wild, will draw into the Flames lineup Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks at Scotiabank Saddledome.

“I feel very blessed and very thankful,” Kolanos said. “I’ve worked hard for a second opportunity. It’s been a long process, no question. Never in my mind did I doubt that I’d make this step and then keep it going.”

Kolanos was summoned by Flames general manager Jay Feaster after learning forward Lee Stempniak would be lost for an indeterminate amount of time with a lower-body injury.

That is a bit ironic, considering Kolanos’ journey almost ended in part to what would be considered a lower-body injury. Kolanos missed half of the 2009-10 season and all of 2010-11 recovering from micro-fracture surgery on his hip nearly two years ago.

“It was a five-hour surgery so it was pretty major,” Kolanos said. “The doctor did a great job in Nashville and he said ‘if you stay with the process and work every day over that time period, there’d be a good chance’. I was able to do that so I’m very grateful for that.”

It was perseverance in the face of adversity that fueled Kolanos’ comeback.

He joined the Abbotsford Heat – Calgary’s American Hockey League affiliate – in September on a professional tryout basis. After earning AHL All-Star honors with 18 goals and 40 points in 34 games, the Flames decided the Calgary native had done enough to warrant a contract.

“It was about a 22-month process coming into this season,” Kolanos said. “It was definitely something I had to stay patient with and stay disciplined with through the whole thing to even get to this point.”

Current Flame and former Heat teammate, Lance Bouma, said it was nice to see Kolanos get a second lease on his hockey life.

“I think it’s huge for him,” Bouma said. “He’s battled through a lot of things over the past couple years.

He’s really worked hard to get back here and it shows a lot about him as a person that he’s been able to come back and get through all the stuff he was dealing with in his life. It’s exciting for him.”

Added Kolanos: “That word is an understatement. It’s been a very emotional time. It’s another step in the journey here for me.”

A step he is taking in his hometown, no less.

“It’s an unbelievable experience and feeling,” the Calgary product said. “I grew up a Flames fan and watched them win a Cup when I was eight years old. It just feels like it’s a part of me. It’s hard to describe.”

Make no mistake about it, Kolanos will have a lot of support. The former first-round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes will have a few supporters – to say the least – in the crowd tonight.

“It’ll be over 100, so it will be pretty big here tonight,” Kolanos said. “I’ve got a great support system here in town so it’s going to be really exciting to play in front of them.”

And accomplish the goal he set out for himself 22 months ago.

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Posted On Friday, 02.03.2012 / 2:58 PM

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

Morrison makes speedy return to Calgary

CALGARY -- It didn't take long for former Flames forward Brendan Morrison to find his way back to Calgary.

Traded from the Flames to the Chicago Blackhawks during the All-Star break, Morrison didn't have to wait long to see his former teammates. His Blackhawks will take on the Flames Friday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome, just six days after being dealt in exchange for minor-league defenseman Brian Connelly.

But it won't be a warm welcome despite his reputation as one of the more universally liked and respected members of the hockey community.

At least according to Mikael Backlund, that is.

"It's another opponent, so you can’t treat him like that," Backlund said. "It's going to be a little weird. He's a great teammate and great guy. That's how it works in this business. He's an opponent now and we'll treat him like that. There are no friends out there."

Rugged defenseman Scott Hannan isn't about to go easy on the 36-year-old Morrison, either.

"That's bragging rights in the summer," Hannan said. "You go hard against a guy like that. I'm looking forward to battling him in the corner."

Michael Cammalleri, acquired by the Flames on Jan. 12, was hoping to spend a little more time with Morrison before his sudden departure. Instead, the two were teammates for just 14 days.

Now, Cammalleri will have the luxury of lining up against the newest member of the Blackhawks.

"To me, I was really excited to get to play with him," Cammalleri said with a smile. "It was brief. Tonight, I'll get to play against him, which I have had the privilege to do many times."

Here are the projected lineups for tonight's game:

FLAMES
Alex Tanguay - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Michael Cammalleri - Krys Kolanos - Blair Jones
Lance Bouma - Mikael Backlund - Blake Comeau
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

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

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson

BLACKHAWKS
Viktor Stalberg - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp - Brendan Morrison - Marian Hossa
Andrew Shaw - Dave Bolland - Marcus Kruger
Andrew Brunette - Jamal Mayers - Bryan Bickell

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Nick Leddy
Steve Montador - John Scott

Ray Emery
Corey Crawford
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 3:26 PM

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

Red Wings hope to maintain pre-break momentum

CALGARY -- The Detroit Red Wings entered the All-Star break with the most points of any franchise.

It's coach Mike Babcock's job to ensure his club returns to the ice with that same focus.

"We have to get started again," Babcock said, whose Red Wings have a league-best 67 points heading into tonight's action with the Calgary Flames.

"Any way you look at it, any momentum you had is now gone. There's a bunch of teams battling. The teams that are in the clump right outside the playoffs are the toughest down the stretch."

That doesn't mean Babcock has a slough of adjustments he wants his team to make.
 
"Not a whole bunch of (changes)," Babcock said. "Obviously you're always trying to make your team better. In saying that, there's no question about it we have to be a better team. There's lots of improvement for this group, we understand that, now let's play the games."

If there's any question his team feels the same way, veteran Todd Bertuzzi said the message came through loud and clear.

"It's tight in the West, every point is important," Bertuzzi said. "I don't think we have time to feel out. I think we're pretty much ready."

Detroit's projected lineup for tonight's game:

Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Danny Cleary
Cory Emmerton - Justin Abdelkader - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Mike Commodore

Jimmy Howard
Ty Conklin
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 2:26 PM

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

Iginla, recharged Flames ready to chase playoff berth

CALGARY -- It didn't take long for Calgary Flames forward Jarome Iginla to refocus after spending the All-Star break as a member of Team Chara.

Iginla and teammate Michael Cammalleri were the first two on the ice in preparation for the Detroit Red Wings tonight, firing one-timers, a tradition the two shared as teammates during Cammalleri's first stint with the Flames.

Needless to say, the captain is recharged and ready to lead the Flames to their first playoff berth since 2008-09 despite spending his break participating in the All-Star Game.

"Even though it's a few days, we have lots to do there, but at the same time mentally it's not that intense," Iginla said. "I'm excited to get back and get going. It's a nice break to get going for the stretch drive."

That's good news for Calgary coach Brent Sutter, whose team sits at 52 points on the season, putting the club in 11th in the Western Conference and three behind the eighth-place Minnesota Wild. The Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes also have 52 points.

"I don't think it's any different for our team as any other team," Sutter said. "I think for all teams it's time for them mentally to take a break from the game and get re-energized and refreshed."

In other words, Sutter's Flames have to ignite the rest of the way in order to leapfrog into a playoff position.

"The reset button is pushed for everybody, and now everyone is on the same page as far as coming off the break," Sutter said.

Calgary's projected lineup tonight:

Alex Tanguay - Mikael Backlund - Jarome Iginla
Michael Cammalleri - Olli Jokinen - Blake Comeau
Lance Bouma - Blair Jones - Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

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

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 1:52 PM

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

Flames likely to get Tanguay back after long absence

CALGARY -- After a 15-game absence from the Calgary Flames lineup, Alex Tanguay is set to return to action tonight against the San Jose Sharks.

At least, that’s what it sounds like from the update of a jovial Brent Sutter.

"He slept well last night, he had a good breakfast this morning, he came to the rink and he was good this morning, so all likelihood he will play tonight," the Flames coach said.

Tanguay was a little more direct in regards to his status.

"I think I'm going to go tonight, that seems to be the plan," Tanguay said. "I'm looking forward to it. It's been a while. I'm anxious to get back and just try to work my hardest and try to help the team keep going."

Out with a neck injury since Dec. 22, Tanguay admits he's eager to return despite not being completely healthy.

"I'd be lying to you if I said I was 100 percent," Tanguay said. "I'm anxious to be back. I'm just going to do as much as I can and help the team and we'll see where that fits in."

Matt Stajan, who left practice yesterday after falling hard to the ice, is not expected to be in the lineup. Nor is Lance Bouma, who blocked a shot with his foot in Saturday's win over the Edmonton Oilers.

Here's the Flames' projected lineup for tonight's game:

Michael Cammalleri - Mikael Backlund - Jarome Iginla
Blake Comeau - Olli Jokinen - Lee Stempniak
Alex Tanguay - Blair Jones - Tom Kostopoulos
Brendan Morrison - Roman Horak - Tim Jackman

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

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 1:47 PM

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

No Burns for Sharks

CALGARY -- After suffering an injury to his leg last night, the San Jose Sharks will be without defenseman Brent Burns tonight against the Calgary Flames.

Burns suffered the injury after taking a hit from Ales Hemsky in the Sharks' 2-1 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers. Hemsky was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct for kneeing.

Though Burns won't be playing, there is a silver lining.

"The injury is not as severe as we originally thought," said Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "The good news is it isn't a knee, it's more of a charley horse situation. He'll need some treatment beginning today and hopefully when we get through the All-Star break he'll be ready to play."

McLellan has some options to replace Burns. The team has been carrying eight defensemen since activating Jim Vandermeer off injured reserve; Vandermeer had missed 20 games with an upper-body injury.

"We do have some options," McLellan said. "We'll make some decisions at game-time."

However, it will be tough for the Sharks to replace Burns, who has averaged 22:25 of ice time per game while playing in all 46 games.

"There is a large portion of our back end that we rely on that comes through Brent Burns," McLellan said. "He plays a lot of minutes in every situation. He can be physical and skate the puck out of trouble. There are a lot of assets he has that we need on a nightly basis.

"That being said, we aren't the only team with bumps and bruises this time of year."

Without Burns, here's the lineup the Sharks likely will use tonight:

Andrew Desjardins - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Benn Ferriero
Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - John McCarthy - Andrew Murray

Dan Boyle - Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Douglas Murray - Justin Braun
Colin White - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi will start in goal, with Thomas Greiss the backup.
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 3:42 PM

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

Sutters signing same tune on game day

CALGARY -- Just hours before puck drop between the Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames -- better billed as Sutter versus Sutter -- both Darryl and Brent didn't waver.

The game isn't about them.

Despite it being the first time the two brothers have faced each other from behind the bench, coupled with the game being Darryl's first in Calgary since leaving the Flames organization in December 2010, Brent reiterated that there is no storyline from a family perspective.

"That's the neat thing about it," Brent said. "It's not even an issue with us. It is for everyone else, but not for us. It's LA versus Calgary. I haven't given it much thought. It's not the first time brothers have coached against each other and it won't be the last. It's not that big of deal, it really isn't."

In short, it isn't a story.

"We've done it our whole lives," Darryl said.

It was tough for Kings forward Colin Fraser to disagree.

"They grew up together, probably beating each other up their whole lives," said Fraser, who was coached by Brent as a member of the Western Hockey League's Red Deer Rebels.

Brent isn't rushing to get the game over with. He knows the questions about Darryl will continue to come long after Los Angeles departs for Sunday's game against Edmonton.

"Someone will ask the question again, I know (the media) well enough," Brent said. "It's not that big of a deal, it really isn't."
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 3:28 PM

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

Kopitar ready to go after leaving previous game

CALGARY -- There is no doubting the participation of Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar in tonight’s game against the Calgary Flames, according to coach Darryl Sutter.

In fact, despite taking a hard hit from Brendan Morrow that forced Kopitar out of the game in the Kings' 5-4 shootout loss against the Dallas Stars Thursday, Los Angeles' leading scorer would've been ready to return had there been more time on the clock.

Kopitar had a goal and two assists before being crunched by Morrow with just 7:48 left in the third period. He missed both overtime and the shootout.

"By the time we left the Staples Center he was ready to play," Sutter said. "I think if we would've played two that night he would've been back for the second one."

Which means Kopitar will be at Sutter's disposal when he returns to the Scotiabank Saddledome for the first time since Dec. 2010 when he left the organization after an eight-year tenure, first as coach and then general manager.

"(It's) nice to come see lots of people working in the building that you spent early morning and late days with," Sutter said. "I came here in a tough situation in every area, on and off the ice. It was one of the most successful on-and-off the ice teams in the NHL for a long time. That's pretty good."

KINGS
Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Jarret Stoll
Brad Richardson - Andrei Loktionov - Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Trent Hunter

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Jack Johnson - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 3:14 PM

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

Cammalleri to debut with Stempniak, Backlund

CALGARY -- Taking line rushes with Mikael Backlund and Lee Stempniak, newly acquired Michael Cammalleri has found a line, at least temporarily, with the Calgary Flames.

After a hectic 48 hours, Cammalleri wasn't made available to the media after the game-day skate. That didn't stop Stempniak from showing his excitement to play with the Flames newest forward.

"Obviously he's a great offensive player," Stempniak said. "He has a great shot and good offensive instincts. It should be a good fit. Hopefully we can get some goals and get going right off the bat. It should be fun."

Stempniak shouldn't necessarily get too comfortable with Cammalleri, according to coach Brent Sutter.

"I guess we'll get a feel," Sutter said. "I'll get a feel for it from a game and see how it goes and where it's at and whether it's the right center or right winger there. I just have to see it. I don't really have a feel for it right now."

Despite past success between Cammalleri and Calgary captain Jarome Iginla, Sutter wasn't tempted to put the two together immediately. The move would force Sutter to split up Iginla, Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross, one of the hottest trios in the league.

"Olli, Glennie and Jarome have been one of the best lines in hockey for the last six weeks," Sutter said. "We're excited to have Cammi come to our hockey team but because you acquire someone you don't shake up your team for one individual. Cammi understands it."

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

Jay Bouwmeester - Chris Butler
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich
Mark Giordano - Anton Babchuk

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving
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Posted On Friday, 01.13.2012 / 2:07 AM

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

Jones knows Ramo well

CALGARY -- Goaltender Karri Ramo contacted former teammate Blair Jones a few days ago to congratulate him on Jones' trade to Calgary. As fate would have it, Jones will have to return the same email.

Six days after the Calgary Flames acquired Jones in a trade with Tampa Bay, Ramo -- a former Tampa Bay Lightning prospect now playing in Russia -- was packaged with a fifth-round pick alongside and forward Michael Cammalleri and sent to Montreal in exchange for Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland and a second-rounder in 2013.

"He actually just congratulated me on the trade to Calgary on the computer," Jones said after scoring the overtime winner Thursday night in the Flames' 1-0 victory against Anaheim. "Funny enough, he's been traded here."

Once again, Jones and the Ramo find themselves a part of the same NHL organization. Both Ramo and Jones played together in the American Hockey League as members of the Springfield Falcons in 2006-07 and again in 2007-08 as members of the Norfolk Admirals.

After two seasons in the AHL, Ramo split time between Norfolk and the Lightning in 2008-09. It was his last season of North American hockey before returning to Europe to play with Omsk Avangard of the Kontinental Hockey League.

"I played with him my rookie season in the minors," Jones said, who scored his first goal with the Flames after coming from Tampa Bay last week. "He was a good goalie prospect and he just took a few years and played in Russia. We'll see what happens to him. He's a very good goalie."

The Tampa Bay connection doesn't end at Jones. Ramo was selected by the Lightning in the sixth round of the 2004 NHL Draft by current Flames general manager Jay Feaster, then the GM in Tampa Bay.

But Jones admitted he isn't sure if a Lightning reunion in Calgary is in the cards for the former Tampa Bay trio.

"I don't know the status of what he'll be doing but he's a good guy, good goalie," Jones said.

A good guy with a congratulatory email he'll be sure to read in the morning.

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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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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 10:31 PM

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

Sweden, Russia heading to OT

CALGARY – The gold medal game of the World Junior Championship is heading to overtime.

 

It’s not uncommon territory for the two teams, who met in the extra period back on New Year’s Eve. Joakim Nordstrom was the hero in that one, scoring 2:44 in to give Sweden a 3-2 victory.

 

Despite building a 50-16 advantage in shots, Sweden couldn’t manage to beat Russian starter Andrei Makarov over 60 minutes. The Russians, who threw a decent share at Johan Gustafsson, couldn’t get on the board either.

 

The 0-0 tie means both teams will play a 20-minute 4-on-4. If neither team scores, the game advances to a shootout.

 

Though heavily outplaying Russia throughout the contest, Sweden may feel lucky to get there.

 

With 32 seconds remaining, Russian captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov found Nikita Gusev on the doorstep with a no-look, spinning backhand pass. Gusev couldn’t get it behind Gustafsson, who has gone long stretches in the game without any action.

 

Though the action was a little more even in the third period, Sweden dominated Russia through the first 40 minutes of action.

 

Sweden has outshot Russia 39-4 through two periods, including firing 22 shots at Makarov in the second period alone.

 

It was the same story in the first period, when Sweden's best opportunity came midway through the frame.

 

Joakim Nordstrom redirected a shot from the point off the stick of Petter Granberg that was handled with great difficulty by Makarov.

 

But Sweden has yet to get a puck past Makarov, who was somewhat of a surprise starter for Russian coach Valeri Bragin. Bragin’s inclination to play Makarov over Andrei Vasilevski has paid off throughout the game.
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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 9:47 PM

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

Sweden dominates, but still 0-0 after two

CALGARY - Sweden continued its utter dominance over Russia through the first 40 minutes of action in the gold medal game at the World Junior Championship -- but still has nothing to show for its efforts in a game that was scoreless after 40 minutes.

Sweden outshot Russia 39-4 through two periods, including 22 in the second period. But Russian goalie Andrei Makarov has been flawless.

At the other end, Swedish starter Johan Gustafsson has barely been tested.

Sweden dominated from the onset of the game, allowing just three shots on goaltender Johan Gustafsson in the first period. In fact, it took Russia 12:34 to get a shot on Gustafsson -- and that was a weak one that off the stick of 2012 NHL Entry Draft eligible Nail Yakupov.

But Sweden has yet to get a puck past Makarov, who was somewhat of a surprise starter for Russian coach Valeri Bragin.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 8:46 PM

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

Russia and Sweden scoreless after one

CALGARY -- Sweden fired 17 first-period shots at Russian starter Andrei Makarov, but the teams were scoreless after the opening 20 minutes in the gold medal game at the World Junior Championship.

Sweden dominated from the onset of the game, allowing just three shots on goaltender Johan Gustafsson. In fact, it took Russia 12:34 to get a shot at Gustafsson -- and that was a weak shot that rolled of the stick of 2012 NHL Entry Draft eligible Nail Yakupov.

But Sweden couldn't get a puck past Makarov, who was somewhat of a surprise starter for Russian coach Valeri Bragin -- his decision to play Makarov over Andrei Vasilevski has paid off through the opening period.

Sweden's best opportunity came midway through the frame. Joakim Nordstrom redirected a shot from the point off the stick of Petter Granberg that was handled with great difficulty by Makarov.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 3:23 PM

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

Finland vs. Canada lineups

CALGARY – After both clubs suffered heartbreaking losses in semifinal action, Canada and Finland still have the opportunity to take home a prize from the World Junior Championship -- a bronze medal.

Canada will look to rebound from a crushing 6-5 loss at the hands of the Russians on Tuesday. Falling behind 6-1 with 11 minutes remaining in the game, Canada battled back to within one before Ryan Strome hit the goal post in the dying minutes of the contest.

On the other side, Finland took a 2-0 lead against Sweden into the third period but lost 3-2 in a shootout.

Both teams will have to put disappointment aside to ensure they won’t be leaving the World Juniors empty-handed.

The game marks the second time in the tournament the two teams have met. Canada won the initial matchup between the two countries by a score of 8-1 in the tournament’s opening game on Boxing Day.

Canada

Brett ConnollyFreddie HamiltonQuinton Howden
Jaden SchwartzRyan StromeBrendan Gallagher
Jonathan HuberdeauMark ScheifeleMark Stone
Michael Bournival – Tanner Pearson

Brandon GormleyDougie Hamilton
Mark Pysyk – Ryan Murray
Jamie OleksiakNathan Beaulieu


Mark Visentin
Scott Wedgewood

Finland

Teemu PulkkinenMikael GranlundMarkus Granlund
Joel ArmiaJoonas DonskoiMiikka Salomaki
Alexander Ruuttu – Aleksander Barkov – Miro Aaltonen
Markus HannikainenMikael KuronenRoope Hamalainen
Otto Paajanen

Konsta MakinenJani Hakanpaa
Miro Hovinen – Ville Pokka
Simo-Pekka Riikola – Rasmus Ristolainen

Sami Aittokallio
Christopher Gibson
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 11:28 PM

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

Russia up 6-5 on Canada in third period

CALGARY -- Trailing 5-1 heading into the third period, Canada has inched to within a goal of Russia in semifinal action at the World Junior Championship at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Canadians now trails 6-5 with four minutes remaining.

Dougie Hamilton converted a cross-crease pass from Mark Scheifele at 9:20. It was the first power-play goal Russia's allowed in the tournament.

Captain Jaden Schwartz struck in the same minute, cutting the lead to 6-3 after banking the puck in off Grigon Zheldakov at 9:43 of the third period.

Brendan Gallagher made it 6-4 after deflecting a point shot from Hamilton and Brandon Gormley's seeing-eye shot from the point has brought Canada to within a goal of tying the Russians.

Nikita Kucherov gave Russia a 6-1 lead with 11 minutes remaining in the third period.

Ignat Zemchenko stepped out of the box to set up a two-on-one with Mikhail Grigorenko. Zemchenko fed Grigorenko, who lost control of the puck cutting across the crease. Streaking in, Kucherov tapped the puck into a virtually empty net at 7:54.

Russia exploded for a three-goal second period to extend its lead to 5-1 against Canada.

Though Canada got on the board just 2:37 into the period to cut Russia's lead to 2-1, Yevgeni Kuznetsov answered with two goals of his own before setting up the third to give Russia a four-goal lead heading into the second intermission.

Kuznetsov scored goals 4:24 apart, first letting go a shot that hit the stick of a Canadian defenseman before going over the glove of starting goalie Scott Wedgewood, then beating Wedgewood again with a deke in alone.

After Kuznetsov's second goal, Yaroslav Kosov ploughed into Wedgewood, who had to leave the game with an injury.

Mark Visentin, the goaltender on record in the gold medal loss to Russia a year ago, didn't fare any better in relief.

Khokhlachev scored 1:48 later after Kuznetsov circled the net and found him alone in the slot for a power play goal to make it 5-1.

Russia opened the scoring in the first period. Kuznetsov took a pass from Nail Yakupov in the slot 7:26. Nikita Nesterov added to the lead at 14:01, the 2-0 lead Russia enjoyed heading into the second period.
 
If Russia is able to hold on through the game’s final 20 minutes, it will meet Sweden in the gold-medal game on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Sweden holds an overtime victory against Russia in a New Year's Eve classic last Saturday night.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 11:16 PM

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

Russia up 6-3 on Canada in third period

CALGARY -- Canada had its opportunity to build a slow climb over their 5-1 deficit. When the Canadians failed to do so, the Russians capitalized.

After its 26th consecutive penalty kill of the tournament, Nikita Kucherov has given Russia a 6-1 lead with 11 minutes remaining in the third period at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Ignat Zemchenko stepped out of the box to set up a two-on-one with Mikhail Grigorenko. Zemchenko fed Grigorenko, who lost control of the puck cutting across the crease. Streaking in, Kucherov tapped the puck into a virtually empty net at 7:54.

Back on the power play, Canada struck to make it 6-2.

Dougie Hamilton converted a cross-crease pass from Mark Scheifele at 9:20. It was the first power play goal Russia's allowed in the tournament.

Captain Jaden Schwartz struck in the same minute, cutting the lead to 6-3 after banking the puck in off Grigon Zheldakov at 9:43 of the third period.

Russia exploded for a three-goal second period to extend its lead to 5-1.

Though Canada got on the board just 2:37 into the period to cut Russia's lead to 2-1, Yevgeni Kuznetsov answered with two goals of his own before setting up the third to give Russia a four-goal lead heading into the second intermission.

Kuznetsov scored goals 4:24 apart, first letting go a shot that hit the stick of a Canadian defenseman before going over the glove of starting goalie Scott Wedgewood, then beating Wedgewood again with a deke in alone.

After Kuznetsov's second goal, Yaroslav Kosov ploughed into Wedgewood, who had to leave the game with an injury.

Mark Visentin, the goaltender on record in the gold medal loss to Russia a year ago, didn't fare any better in relief.

Khokhlachev scored 1:48 later after Kuznetsov circled the net and found him alone in the slot for a power play goal to make it 5-1.

Russia opened the scoring in the first period. Kuznetsov took a pass from Nail Yakupov in the slot 7:26. Nikita Nesterov added to the lead at 14:01, the 2-0 lead Russia enjoyed heading into the second period.

If Russia is able to hold on through the game's final 20 minutes, it will meet Sweden in the gold-medal game on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Sweden holds an overtime victory against Russia in a New Year's Eve classic last Saturday night.


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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 10:54 PM

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

Russia extends lead to 5-1 after 40 minutes

CALGARY -- Russia exploded for a three-goal second period to extend its lead to 5-1 against Canada in semifinal action in the World Junior Championship at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Though Canada got on the board just 2:37 into the period to cut Russia's lead to 2-1, Yevgeni Kuznetsov answered with two goals of his own before setting up the third to give Russia a four-goal lead heading into the second intermission.

Kuznetsov scored goals 4:24 apart, first letting go a shot that hit the stick of a Canadian defenseman before going over the glove of starting goalie Scott Wedgewood, then beating Wedgewood again with a deke in alone.

After Kuznetsov's second goal, Yaroslav Kosov ploughed into Wedgewood, who had to leave the game with an injury.

Mark Visentin, the goaltender on record in the gold medal loss to Russia a year ago, didn't fare any better in relief.

Khokhlachev scored 1:48 later after Kuznetsov circled the net and found him alone in the slot for a power-play goal to make it 5-1.

Russia opened the scoring in the first period. Kuznetsov took a pass from Nail Yakupov in the slot 7:26. Nikita Nesterov added to the lead at 14:01, the 2-0 lead Russia enjoyed heading into the second period.

If the Russians are able to hold on through the game's final 20 minutes, they'll meet Sweden in the gold-medal game on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Sweden holds an overtime victory against Russia in a New Year's Eve classic last Saturday night.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 10:21 PM

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

Russia extends lead in second period

CALGARY -- Canada got the push back they needed to start the second heading into the first intermission trailing 2-0.

The only problem was the Russians answered – twice.

Canada's Brett Connolly cut Russia's lead to 2-1, but captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov answered just two minutes later.

With a delayed penalty coming to Russia, Connolly jumped over the boards. He picked up the puck, cut through the faceoff circle and rifled a shot over the right shoulder of Russian starter Andrei Vasilevski just 2:37 into the period.

Kuznetsov responded at 4:24.

Taking a pass from Alexander Khokhlachev, Kuznetsov let go a shot that caught the shaft of Scott Harrington's stick and went over the glove of Scott Wedgewood to make it 3-1.

Russia extended the lead to three courtesy of Kuznetsov's hat-trick goal.

Both he and Nail Yakupov managed to get behind Canada's defense. Yakupov fed Kuznetsov, who cut to his backhand and lifted the puck over a sprawling Wedgewood at 8:48.
 
After the goal, Yaroslav Kosov plowed into Wedgewood, who suffered an injury on the play. Mark Visentin, who was in net for Canada a year ago against Russia in the gold-medal game, has come on in relief. 

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 9:49 PM

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

Russia gets jump on Canada, up 2-0 after one period

CALGARY -- Though Canada holds a 13-8 shot advantage over Russia, through one period the Canadians find themselves trailing 2-0 in semifinal action at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Yevgeni Kuznetsov has given Russia a 1-0 off a pass from Nail Yakupov in the slot 7:26 into the first period of their semifinal match against Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship.
 
After a turnover at the Russian blueline, Yakupov quickly darted up the ice and found Kuznetsov, beating Canadian starter Scott Wedgewood for the lead and silencing the capacity crowd at the Scotiabank Saddledome in the process.

Nikita Nesterov added to the lead at 14:01 on the power play. Grigori Zheldakov worked the puck over to the Russian defenseman, whose shot from the point beat Wedgewood glove side for the 2-0 advantage.

The first period unfolded in almost exact opposite nature as their gold medal game a year ago. In 2011, Canada staked themselves to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Ryan Ellis and Carter Ashton.

The survivor of this game moves on to face Sweden Thursday in the gold medal match. Sweden punched its ticket after a 3-2 shootout victory against Finland earlier Tuesday.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 9:28 PM

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

Russia takes early lead on Canada

CALGARY -- Yevgeni Kuznetsov has given Russia a 1-0 off a pass from Nail Yakupov in the slot 7:26 into the first period of their semifinal match against Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship.
 
After a turnover at the Russian blueline, Yakupov quickly darted up the ice and found Kuznetsov, beating Canadian starter Scott Wedgewood for the lead and silencing the capacity crowd at the Scotiabank Saddledome in the process.

Though down, Canada holds a 9-5 edge in shots.

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Posted On Monday, 01.02.2012 / 3:46 PM

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

Swiss safe after win over Denmark

CALGARY -- The Swiss are safe.

After edging Denmark 4-3 in overtime at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday, Switzerland has avoided relegation and can finish no lower than eighth at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

After winning a faceoff in Denmark's end, Tanner Richard buried a rebound off of Dario Trutmann's shot from the point behind Denmark goalie Sebastian Feuk with just 1:33 remaining in the extra period to lift Switzerland to victory, clinching its appearance in the 2013 World Juniors in Russia.

"For sure it's a relief," Richard said. "It's a lot of pressure because we're representing our country. It's for the guys next year, too. We have a young team and we all want to be in the A division next year. It's just great for our country."

The overtime loss gives Denmark their first ever points at the tournament. Nicklas Jensen, who had two goals in the losing effort, found little comfort in the fact.

"Obviously it's great to get a point for us," Jensen said. "Right now we're kind of disappointed. I thought we could've won the game in regulation time. We're not too happy with the score. We could've done better."

With a win over the United States on Wednesday, Switzerland will finish seventh. It's a game Richard said his Swiss can get up for.

"For sure, we can," he said. "We were quite disappointed when we blew the game against Slovakia. We wanted to be top-six. Now our goal is to finish seventh."

Cedric Schneuwly, Alessio Bertaggia and Gregory Hofmann also scored for Switzerland. Jensen's pair and a single goal by Oliver Bjorkstrand composed Denmark's offense.

Denmark opened the scoring in the first period when Oliver Bjorkstrand converted a 3-on-1 opportunity just 1:10 into the game.

Schneuwly countered just 35 seconds later for the Swiss, banging in a rebound from Sven Andrighetto's original offering. Switzerland went up 2-1 just two minutes later when Bertaggia beat Feuk over the blocker from the slot.

Denmark tied it before the period was out with the first of Jensen's two goals. On the power play, Jensen's point shot beat Swiss goalie Tim Wolf over the glove.

The teams traded goals in the second, with Jensen answering Hofmann's shorthanded penalty shot goal.

The loss pushes the Danes to the brink of relegation. Denmark would need a Team USA victory over Latvia on Tuesday, coupled by their own win over Latvia on Wednesday, to avoid demotion to Division I.

"We just have to take the positives from this game and our hard work and bring it against Latvia and not think too much about the past," Jensen said.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 2:10 AM

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

Switzerland without Sven for Slovakia

CALGARY -- If Switzerland wants to make it a third consecutive year with a quarterfinal at the World Juniors, they'll be forced to do so without standout Sven Bartschi.

Bartschi, who is suffering from what is being described as a light concussion, will not be back in time for Switzerland's game with Slovakia Saturday. The winner will finish third in Group A and advance to the quarterfinal of the World Junior Championship.

"He won't play tomorrow," coach Manuele Celio said after Switzerland's 5-3 win over Latvia. "If he's going to play he's going to play in the next round."

Manuele admitted Bartschi hasn't been back on the ice since suffering the injury in the first period of Switzerland's 4-3 shootout loss to Sweden Wednesday.

"He was on the bike a little bit," Manuele said. "It's normal procedure. The doctor is going to look at him. Even the Flames' doctor is going to look at him. I'll have some information tonight again after an assessment and we're going to see what's going on in the new year."
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 1:18 AM

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

Switzerland overcomes Latvia's late scare

CALGARY -- Switzerland was expecting a rebound game from Latvia on Friday night after suffering a humiliating 14-0 defeat to the Russians the night before.

But few imaged the late game push Latvia would bestow on Switzerland.

Trailing 3-1 heading into the third period, Latvia tied the game before Gaetan Haas and Christian Marti scored 59 seconds apart to lift Switzerland to a 5-3 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Making matters worse was the absence of standout forward Sven Bartschi due to concussion-like symptoms. In the end, it was no worry for Switzerland after Christoph Bertschy stepped into Bartschi's place, adding 2 goals in the victory.

"I think it was a lucky game for me tonight," Bertschy said. "The most important stat is that we won, and now I look forward to the game tomorrow."

Saturday brings Slovakia in a battle to determine which team advances to the quarterfinal.

"We already talked after the game in the dressing room what's going to be," Swiss coach Manuele Celio said. "We've got to keep up and try to be really ready for 4 o'clock tomorrow."

Victory almost didn't happen after the serious push late from Latvia.

Nikita Jevpalovs scored 2:23 into the third period to bring Latvia to within one. With just over seven minutes remaining, Vitalijs Hvorostinins put a rebound behind Switzerland starter Tim Wolf to tie the game.

Haas scored 24 seconds later to restore the lead with his second of the night. Marti added an insurance marker through a screen just under a minute later to extend the lead to 5-3.

With the Latvian goalie pulled, Switzerland shut down a 6-on-4 opportunity to preserve the victory.

"We brought them back in the game," Manuele said. "We didn't need to do that. We should have won easily. After 3-3, the guys stayed calm and put the puck on the net. I hope it's good learning for tomorrow."

Latvian coach Eriks Miluns was happy with the way his team responded after the Russian drubbing.

"It was our best game in the tournament," Miluns said through an interpreter. "After last night's loss our boys showed character. Luck was a little bit not on our side but I'm proud the way we battled and came back in the third. Hopefully we get the bounces soon."

Haas' first goal came midway through the second period after deflecting a Mike Vermeille point shot past Latvian starter Kristers Gudlevskis to put Switzerland up 2-0 midway through the second period.

But soon after, Haas coughed the puck up in front of Wolf. Toms Andersons picked up the puck, deked the Swiss netminder backhand and lifted the puck into the net to bring Latvia to within one at 8:26.

Bertschy restored the two-goal lead on the power play with just 1:32 remaining in the period. Floating in the high slot, Bertschy took a pass from Samuel Walser and fired a shot over the blocker of Gudlevskis -- his second of the night -- to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but had just a one-goal lead to show for their efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.

While Switzerland will look to Slovakia, Latvia has the unenviable task of avoiding relegation for the second time in three years. They'll battle the loser of Switzerland and Slovakia, as well as Denmark and the United States.

"They're both going to be tough games," Miluns said. "All the teams will be battling to stay in the top division. Any team that's going to come from that side, it's going to be a hard game. The main opponent is going to be Denmark for us to stay in the top division."

Zemgus Girgensons agreed that if Latvia is to stave off relegation, it has to come at the expense of Denmark.

"We have to beat them to stay in the top division," he said. "It's our goal."
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 12:18 AM

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

Bartschi-less Swiss tackle Latvia

CALGARY -- No Sven Bartschi? No problem.

Switzerland has Cristoph Bertschy instead.

Losing Bartschi to concussion-like symptoms earlier in the tournament, Bertschy stepped up against Latvia on Friday night, scoring twice while Gaetan Haas also added a pair -- including the winner -- to pace Switzerland to a 5-3 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

The win moves Switzerland to 1-0-1-1 and into an important date with Slovakia on Saturday to determine who advances to the quarter-final.

The win wasn't without a serious push back from Latvia in the third period.

Nikita Jevpalovs scored just 2:23 into the third period to bring Latvia to within one. With just over seven minutes remaining, Vitalijs Hvorostinins put a rebound behind Switzerland starter Tim Wolf to tie the game.

Haas scored 24 seconds later to restore the lead with his second of the night. Christian Marti added an insurance marker through a screen just under a minute later to extend the lead to 5-3.

With the Latvian goalie pulled, Switzerland shut down a 6-on-4 opportunity to preserve the victory.

Haas’ first came midway through the second period after deflecting a Mike Vermeille point shot past Latvian starter Kristers Gudlevskis to put Switzerland up 2-0 midway through the second period.

But soon after, Haas coughed the puck up in front of Wolf. Toms Andersons picked up the puck, deked the Swiss netminder backhand and lifted the puck into the net to bring Latvia to within one at 8:26.

Bertschy restored the two-goal lead on the power play with just 1:32 remaining in the period. Floating in the high slot, Bertschy took a pass from Samuel Walser and fired a shot over the blocker of Gudlevskis -- his second of the night -- to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but had just a one-goal lead to show for their efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Swiss goalie Tim Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.


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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 11:30 PM

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

Swiss extend lead in second period

CALGARY -- No Sven Bartschi? No problem.

Switzerland has Cristoph Bertschy instead.

Switzerland continued to roll over Latvia, extending its lead to two after goals by Bertschy and Gaetan Haas.

Gaetan Haas deflected a Mike Vermeille point shot past Latvian starter Kristers Gudlevskis to put Switzerland up 2-0 midway through the second period. Haas coughed the puck up in front of goaltender Tim Wolf. Toms Andersons picked up the puck, deked Wolf backhand and lifted the puck into the net to bring Latvia to within one at 8:26.

Bertschy restored the two-goal lead on the power play with just 1:32 remaining in the period. Floating in the high slot, Bertschy took a pass from Samuel Walser and fired a shot over the blocker of Gudlevskis -- his second of the night -- to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but had just a one-goal lead to show for their efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Vitalijs Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Swiss goalie Tim Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 10:42 PM

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

Swiss dominating, lead after first

CALGARY -- Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but has just a one-goal lead to show for its efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Kristers Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Christoph Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Vitalijs Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Swiss goalie Tim Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 7:05 PM

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

Vasilevski overshadowed by Kuznetsov's performance

It's not hard to go overlooked when your teammate puts up 9 points in one game.

But that doesn't mean the goaltending of Andrei Vasilevski thus far at the 2012 World Junior Championship has gone unnoticed by his fellow Russians.

Though it was Yevgeni Kuznetsov recording 9 points in Russia's 14-0 rout of Latvia Thursday, the game also marked the second of back-to-back shutouts for Vasilevski.

Vasilevski, who has started two of Russia's three games in the tournament, has yet to allow a goal at the World Juniors, turning aside 70 straight shots en route to a pair of blankings against both Switzerland and Latvia.

The fact that a puck still hasn't gotten by Vasilevski hasn't been lost on his teammates.

"It's good for us," said Alexander Khokhlachev, who has 3 goals and three games for Russia. "When we come here we have some questions about goaltenders but he's played great for us. He's a young guy and he has two games, two shutouts."

Only two goaltenders – Latvia’s Kristers Gudlevskis (85) and Denmark’s Sebastian Feuk (122) have faced more shots than Vasilevski, who has yet to show a blemish on the scoresheet.

"We kept high hopes for our goalie," Kuznetsov said through a translator. "He's a young guy, so hopefully it'll continue that way."

It hasn't been the quantity of saves from Vasilevski, but the timeliness of his stops that has coach Valeri Bragin beaming about his goaltender.

"It's most important in the moments where you need your goalie to play well and he played well," Bragin said through a translator. "He played good when he needed to play good."

Vasilevski's next test will come against Sweden on New Year's Eve. He will need to be equally as good for Russia with the potential of first place in Group A on the line.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 1:55 PM

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

Kuznetsov turns in dominating performance

The Russians knew their captain was good.

But nine points good?

Yevgeni Kuznetsov, the only returning player from Russia’s gold medal-winning squad last year, came within one point of Peter Forsberg’s all-time tournament record of 10 against Japan at the 1993 World Junior Championship with his performance Thursday night -- much to the awe and delight of his teammates.

“It was like ‘Are you kidding me, what are you doing?” Nail Yakupov said after the game. “He’s amazing, you know? He did everything today. He’s a great player. It’s his second World Juniors and he plays in the KHL. He plays like an NHL player.”

After being held off the scoresheet through the first 20 minutes by Latvia, Kuznetsov exploded, recording points on six straight Russian goals before adding three more points – including his hat trick goal -- in the third period.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 1:46 AM

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

Grigorenko injured in Russian rout

Though Russia handed Latvia a lopsided 14-0 defeat Thursday night, the reigning world champions may have suffered a big loss.

Early in the second period, forward Mikhail Grigorenko collided with Latvian defender Arturs Salija at the Russian blue line, sending the 2012 draft-eligible prospect to the ice in pain. Grigorenko did not return to the game and his status for the tournament is in doubt.

"There was an injury around the ankle," Russia coach Valeri Bragin said through a translator after the game. "We don't know about it right now. We'll see tomorrow morning."

When asked if Grigorenko could be lost for the duration of the World Juniors, Bragin confirmed.

"It's possible."

Grigorenko has two goals and four points in three games for the undefeated Russians.

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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 4:25 PM

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

Sweden's Friberg channels 'Tiger' for goal celebration

Tiger Williams was the first.
 
Max Friberg has now become the latest.
 
The Swedish sensation revived the scoring celebration of the former NHL enforcer, taking to riding his stick in Williams-esque fashion after scoring what looked like the game clincher in the shootout in a 4-3 victory over Switzerland Wednesday night in Calgary.
 
“It was just something that came up in my mind,” Friberg said. “It was nothing against the other team. I was very impressed by their game. I was just happy and I had no teammates to celebrate, so I had to do something.”
 
Switzerland responded with a shootout goal of its own before Sebastian Collberg iced the game for Sweden.
 
Friberg admitted the idea for the celebration, which drew a chorus of boos from the crowd, came from time spent on the Internet.
 
“I watch a lot of video clips on YouTube so I’d seen it a couple times,” Friberg said. “I thought they would like it but they booed instead.”
 
Though he never saw Friberg’s post-goal performance, Swedish coach Roger Ronnberg defended his player’s actions.
 
“I didn’t see it actually,” Ronnberg said. “I heard they were booing, I thought it was because they missed the shot. He’s a humble kid. I don’t think he did it to humiliate somebody or offend somebody.”

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 12:44 AM

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

Slovakia avoids scare from Latvia

CALGARY -- It was a bigger scare than Slovakia would have preferred in its 2012 World Junior Championship debut.

Tied 1-1 with Latvia after 40 minutes, Slovak forward Marek Tvrdon scored the game-winner 2:02 into the third period and goalie Juraj Simboch kicked out 25 shots en route to a 3-1 win at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday night.

"We had a really tough time at the beginning of the game," Slovak coach Ernest Bokros said through a translator. "It was really tough to get into the game. After the first period we talked to the boys and they played better. We told our guys to keep focused and keep going. It was an important game for us since we want to try to stay in the group. We don't want to get eliminated. We told guys to keep going."    

Tomas Jurco also scored for Slovakia and Michael Toman added an empty-netter with 37.3 seconds remaining to clinch the victory. Juris Ziemins had the lone goal for Latvia.

"Everybody tried hard," Latvian captain Kristians Pelss said. "One shot changed the whole game. It's a difficult game because we could win this game. Hopefully the next game will be better."

Tvrdon broke the tie when he lifted a third rebound attempt over Latvian goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis during a scramble to give Slovakia. It was only the second of 44 shots to beat Gudlevskis.  

Latvia tried to answer back. Ziemins had Simboch sprawling midway through the period, but couldn't beat the post. It was as close as the Latvians would come to tying the game before Toman hit the vacated net in the final minute.

Slovakia carried the play through the scoreless first period and into the second, it was Latvia that got on the board first.

Minutes after Gudlevskis turned aside Slovakia's second 3-on-1 attempt of the game, Ziemins put Latvia up 1-0 when the puck caromed off the end boards, under the stick of Simboch and onto the stick of Ziemins, who lifted it into the top corner at 6:41 to give Latvia its first lead of the tournament.

The combination of 2012 Draft eligible forward Zemgus Girgensons and David Straupe almost made it 2-0 on the next shift. Girgensons took the puck out of the corner and drove to the net but was denied by Simboch. Straupe then slid the rebound just past the far post.

After Gudlevskis stopped Vladimir Dolnik on a breakaway, Slovakia finally solved him on the power play. Jurco deflected Martin Marincin's blast from the point behind Gudlevskis with 4:32 remaining in the period to make it 1-1.

Both teams now turn their attention to Russia. Slovakia faces the Russians on Wednesday, while Latvia gets the day off before facing them on Thursday.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 11:36 PM

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

Latvia, Slovakia all even after two

Though Slovakia was able to carry over the jump shown in the final minutes of the first period, it was Latvia who managed to get on the board first Tuesday night in Calgary.

Minutes after Latvian goaltender Kristers Gudlevis turned aside Slovakia's second 3-on-1 attempt of the game, Juris Ziemins put Latvia up, 1-0.

The puck careened off the end boards, under the stick of Slovak goalie Juraj Simboch and onto the stick of Ziemins, who lifted it top corner at 6:41 to give Latvia its first lead of the tournament.

The combination of 2012 Draft eligible forward Zemgus Girgensons and David Straupe almost made it 2-0 on the next shift.

Taking the puck out of the corner and driving to the net, Girgensons was stopped by the Slovak goalie. Straupe slid the rebound just passed the far post, keeping Slovakia within one.

After stopping Vladimir Dolnik on a breakaway, Slovakia finally solved Gudlevis on the power play. Tomas Jurco deflected Martin Marincin's blast from the point behind Gudlevis with 4:32 remaining in the period to make it 1-1.


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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 10:53 PM

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

Latvia, Slovakia scoreless after one

After a slow start from both teams in Calgary, Latvia and Slovakia managed to find their feet in a competitive first period that was scoreless despite a combined 25 shots.
 
It took Latvia until the 7:27 mark to mark its first shot on goal on Slovak starter Juraj Simboch, while Slovakia managed to get just two pucks on Latvia's Kristers Gudlevskis in the first half of the period.

Though it took them longer than they'd like to record their first shot of the game, the Latvians carried the pace through the first 20 minutes.

Robert Lipsbergs, who had a pair of goals in Latvia's opener against Sweden, almost put his country up near the midway mark of the first. Streaking in on his off wing, Lipsbergs fired a shot off the pad Slovakia starter Juraj Simboch, gathered his own rebound, but was denied again.

When Slovak defenseman Peter Bezuska misplayed the puck at the offensive blue line, Latvian captain Kristians Pelss was able to break in alone on Simboch, who also denied him with his pad, one of 12 first period saves.

Killing its third penalty of the period, Slovakia responded.

Stepping out of the penalty box with four minutes remaining in the period, Tomas Matousek jumped into a 3-on-1 rush led by Richard Mraz. Mraz dropped the puck to Matousek in the high slot, but was denied by Kristers Gudlevskis.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 6:38 PM

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

Bartschi has home-ice edge in Calgary

Calgary is more than 4,800 miles from Switzerland, but Sven Bartschi still has home-ice advantage.

Bartschi, selected by the Calgary Flames in the first round (No. 13) of the 2011 NHL Draft, said fans are making him feel at home as Switzerland tackles preliminary-round action at the World Junior Championship in Calgary.

But that doesn't mean there isn't added pressure for the native of Langenthal, who is the main attraction of Group A with Canada skating in Edmonton until after the new year.

"I want to enjoy the whole thing," Bartschi said. "I don't want to put too much pressure on myself because it's in Calgary. It's a big Christmas gift for me to come down here and play at the 'dome."

The "dome" Bartschi is referring to is Scotiabank Saddledome - home of the Calgary Flames. It was also the same place the boisterous crowd of 15,390 that was cheering on Bartschi and the Swiss in their tournament opener against Russia, a 3-0 loss.

But Bartschi wasn't willing to take all the credit.

Given the nature of Canada's rivalry with Russia coupled by Russia's come-from-behind gold medal victory over Canada at last year's World Juniors in Buffalo may have helped the Swiss, Bartschi said.

"I think the whole crowd was behind us and cheered us on because of the rivalry between Russia and Canada," he said. "Still, it was a lot of fun out here."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 5:42 PM

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

Girgensons already hearing Nino comparisons

CALGARY - Latvian forward Zemgus Girgensons is well aware of the comparison he’s facing at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

Two years ago, a draft eligible Nino Niederreiter grabbed headlines as he pulled Switzerland to a fourth-place finish at the World Juniors, the country’s best finish since 1998. Some five months later, Niederreiter was chosen fifth overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders.

Now, many expect Girgensons to have the same breakthrough performance that Niederreiter put together two years prior.

“It puts big pressure on me but it’s not a big deal,” said Girgensons, who scored in Latvia’s 9-4 tournament-opening loss to Sweden Monday. “I’m just going to do my best, that’s it. I just don’t try to think about it that much and try to play my game and do my best and help the team to perform good.”

Niederreiter exploded for six goals and 10 points in seven games at the 2010 tournament en route to being named to the media’s all-star team.

Girgensons doesn’t have to match Niederreiter’s outburst at the World Juniors in order to be a high pick in the 2012 draft. In fact, he’s already well on his way to accomplishing the feat, according to NHL Central Scouting's Dave Gregory.

"Zemgus is someone who's going to push being a real high-end rank for us all year," said Gregory in November. "We saw him at the Research, Development and Orientation Camp and he was impressive there with arguably some of the best available draft-eligible kids.”
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 1:13 AM

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

Sweden's Larsson exits game against Latvia

Forward Johan Larsson left Sweden’s 9-4 victory over Latvia in the first period for what the team is calling a precautionary move.

The team isn’t concerned with their captain, who assisted on Max Friberg’s first goal before leaving the game with what the team is calling a contusion on his thigh.

“He had a hit on his thigh in the first period,” said team doctor Bjorn Sandstrom. “That’s why he didn’t play anymore. I don’t think it’s a dangerous injury. I’m not very worried about him.”

Swedish coach Roger Ronnberg wasn’t about to take a chance with Larsson on tournament's opening day.

“He got a small injury in the first but we don’t take any chances this early in the tournament,” coach Roger Ronnberg said.

The team is already playing without 2012 draft eligible forward Pontus Aberg, who was knocked out of the World Junior Championship before the tournament got underway.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 2:23 PM

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

Red Wings starting Conklin against Flames

CALGARY -- Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard will get a rare night off as the Red Wings try to tackle the Flames in Calgary tonight.

In his place, Ty Conklin will draw into the crease for just his fifth start and sixth appearance this season.

"Jimmy's been playing so well, too, and it'll be nice to get in there and get some action," Conklin said.

Keeping focused while waiting for an opportunity to get back between the pipes has been the mandate in practice for Conklin, who hasn't played since a Dec. 4 loss against Colorado.

"Just trying to stay sharp in practice," he said. "When you don't get in there that often you want to make sure you take advantages of the opportunities you do get. It's always difficult. It's been my role for most of my career. That's just the way it is."

Outside of Conklin's start, the Red Wings are expected to ice a similar roster that dropped a 4-2 decision to the Vancouver Canucks last night.

RED WINGS

Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Danny Cleary - Darren Helm - Drew Miller
Cory Emmerton - Justin Abdelkader - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Jakub Kindl

Ty Conklin
Jimmy Howard
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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 1:36 PM

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

Flames surprised to be without Tanguay

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames will be without winger Alex Tanguay tonight against the Detroit Red Wings, much to the surprise of coach Brent Sutter.

"I can't even pinpoint anything on it," said Sutter, who ruled out illness as the cause of Tanguay's absence. "I will say I was somewhat surprised after the game (against Minnesota). He's played some of his best hockey here in the last four games that he's played all year for us. I was quite surprised to see that he was out on a day-to-day basis."

The Flames have recalled Greg Nemisz from the Abbotsford Heat, who will skate with Roman Horak and Paul Byron. All three have spent time in the American Hockey League this season.

Tonight's game marks the second time Nemisz has been recalled in a span of two weeks. In his season debut, Nemisz was held pointless while playing 6:26. He hopes to show Sutter marked improvement.

"They just told me to go out and be myself and play hockey and not worry about systems too much," Nemisz said. "I feel like last game I was a little clouded and I didn't move fast enough. Tonight I'm just going to go play hockey and lay it all on the line."

Sutter was willing to cut Nemisz some slack on his earlier performance this season.

"In fairness to him that was a tough situation," Sutter said. "He had a 6 o'clock in the morning flight and it was a tough day of travel. He played the night before. It was three games in three days. It was a tough situation. No, he didn't have one of his better games or a game we'd like to see him play, but he gets that opportunity again now in a whole different set-up going into it. Hopefully it'll help him out and he can respond the right way."

Nemisz expects to take full advantage of his second opportunity, which will mark just his eighth career NHL game.

"It's good to get a second chance here," he said. "I just have to play my game with a little more energy than I did last time."

Calgary's projected lineup for tonight's game:

FLAMES
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Blake Comeau - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak
Greg Nemisz - Roman Horak - Paul Byron
Tom Kostopoulos - Brendan Morrison - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Derek Smith - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 3:14 PM

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

Suspended Bourque relieved Seabrook is OK

Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque will have more time than he anticipated to think about his hit on Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook.

Bourque was handed down a two-game suspension by Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's disciplinarian, for his hit from behind on Seabrook at 15:25 of the first period of Calgary's 4-2 loss in Chicago on Sunday.

He received a major penalty and a game misconduct on the play.

"I thought I'd get a fine or a game, but two a little harsh, maybe," Bourque said a day after the ruling.

The Flames forward is more relieved that Seabrook, a former teammate, escaped without serious injury.

"The important thing for me is that Seebs is all right and he knows I didn't mean to hurt him," said Bourque, who will forfeit $36,036.04 to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. "I played with the guy for four years, so I felt pretty bad. I went and talked to him during the third period to make sure he was alright and say sorry and he accepted my apology."

Both Bourque and Flames general manager Jay Feaster had hoped the league would show leniency given the circumstances surrounding the hit.

"Honestly, I thought the ref was a big part of it, especially right before I hit him," Bourque said. "He does get tangled up and he does turn towards the boards. I thought that would have a bigger role in the decision and unfortunately it didn't."

"While we respectfully disagree with the League's interpretation of the hit, we nonetheless recognize that Brendan Shanahan has issued his ruling and both the Flames and Rene Bourque will abide by his decision," Feaster said in a statement.

The suspension, coupled with an injury to center Matt Stajan, has forced coach Brent Sutter to juggle his lines.

"It is what it is," Sutter said. "We live by the League's ruling. We can't do anything about it and we'll accept it."

Ultimately, Bourque will have to stomach Shanahan’s suspension.

"It's tough for them to make decisions," he said. "Shanny made it clear he wasn't happy with it and he thought it was a dangerous hit. I tried not to argue with him, just explain my process and my thoughts about it, and obviously we didn't come to an agreement there."

Calgary will be without Bourque for Tuesday's contest against the Minnesota Wild and Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings. He is eligible to return Friday when Calgary travels to Vancouver to take on the Canucks in the first of a seven-game road trip for the Flames.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 2:16 PM

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

Wild get defensemen Falk, Zanon back

The Minnesota Wild will welcome a pair of defensemen back into the lineup tonight as they hope to end a four-game winless skid in Calgary.

Justin Falk will return to the lineup after missing 11 games with an upper-body injury, while Greg Zanon will draw back in on the blue line after being a healthy scratch for two of the last three games.

"Obviously, anytime you're out of the lineup for any reason, when you get your chance to get back in you give it your best to stay in the lineup,” Zanon said. "With the situation we have, losing a few in a row, it's important we get back to playing our game."

Much like the Flames, Minnesota is also winless in their last four contests but still sit second in the Western Conference behind the Chicago Blackhawks.

Winning or losing, Zanon just wants to play.

"You just want to get back in the lineup no matter what," he said. "If I can get back in and do something to help the team win, we're going to do whatever we can and turn it around tonight."

Zanon will play in front of Josh Harding, making his first appearance since Dec. 6.

Harding will play in place of Niklas Backstrom, who started in last night's 4-0 loss against the Vancouver Canucks. Harding is 1-4-1 lifetime against Calgary with a 2.64 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 1:46 PM

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

Flames shake up roster after injury, suspension

In the wake of an ankle injury to Matt Stajan and the two-game suspension of Rene Bourque, the Calgary Flames have shaken up their lineup for tonight's game against the Minnesota Wild.

Captain Jarome Iginla wasn't willing to use it as an excuse for his team coming off a winless four-game road trip.

"Every team deals with that," Iginla said. "Most teams you play, they usually have somebody, too, and the Wild look like they have people out. There's no time for excuses. Our job as guys in the lineup is to go out and do our best to win a game."

Coach Brent Sutter has reunited Iginla, Alex Tanguay and Mikael Backlund for tonight's game, a line that found success together late last season.

"I always enjoy playing with Tangs and Backs," Iginla said. "End of last year we had some success, so we'll try to draw on that, go over things that worked for you before. It helps having that familiarity."

In Bourque's absence, the Flames have recalled Paul Byron from the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL. Roman Horak, a healthy scratch in Sunday's loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, will also draw back into the lineup.

The call-up marks Byron's second stint with the Flames this season. In six games with Calgary in November, Byron had 2 goals.

"I'm real excited to be here and hope I can keep the same pace I was at when I was sent down and provide a bit of energy," he said.

Projected lineups for tonight's game:

FLAMES

Alex Tanguay - Mikael Backlund - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Lee Stempniak
Blake Comeau - Roman Horak - Paul Byron
Tom Kostopoulos - Brendan Morrison - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Derek Smith - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving

WILD
Pierre-Marc Bouchard - Matt Cullen - Dany Heatley
Cal Clutterbuck - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Johnson
Darroll Powe - Warren Peters - Jarod Palmer
Jed Ortmeyer - Brad Staubitz

Nick Schultz - Justin Falk
Marek Zidlicky - Clayton Stoner
Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Greg Zanon

Josh Harding
Nicklas Backstrom

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Posted On Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 3:51 PM

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

Oilers hope to end slide against rival Flames

The Edmonton Oilers are well aware of the success the Calgary Flames have had recently in the Battle of Alberta.

The Flames have won both games this season and haven’t dropped a contest to the Oilers since the opening night of the 2009-10 season.

Oilers coach Tom Renney hopes to remedy that tonight in Calgary.

“It seems every time we play these guys, with all due respect to the Flames, we have a tendency to beat ourselves,” Renney said. “If we eliminate that part of the process, I think we’ve got a shot of beating them tonight.”

The Oilers may do that with a more physical approach.

Darcy Hordichuk could draw back into the lineup for tonight’s Battle of Alberta in the place of finesse forward Magnus Paajarvi.

“I am going to make a game time decision on that,” Oilers coach Tom Renney said. “[Paajarvi] skated but he’ll also take the warm-up here and I’ll make a game-time decision on what I want to do there.”

The Oilers are coming off a 4-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche last night. Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulan earned the win and could be in line for back-to-back starts 24 hours apart.

“Let’s wait on that one,” Renney said on his goaltending situation.

OILERS

Sam GagnerRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle
Ryan SmythShawn HorcoffAles Hemsky
Ben EagerEric BelangerRyan Jones
Darcy HordichukAnton Lander – Lenart Petrell

Ladislav SmidTom Gilbert
Ryan WhitneyJeff Petry
Theo PeckhamColten Teubert

Nikolai Khabibulan
Devan Dybnyk
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Posted On Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 2:13 PM

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

Flu causing problems for Calgary

For the second time in a week, the Calgary Flames with be without a key forward because of the flu.

Missing from practice Friday, Alex Tanguay was again absent from the ice during Calgary’s morning skate as they prepare to take on the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday in the Battle of Alberta.

In Tanguay’s absence, Calgary has recalled Greg Nemisz from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League. Nemisz, who has six NHL games to his credit, is expected to skate alongside Brendan Morrison and Rene Bourque against the Oilers.

“They are both great players,” Nemisz said. “For me, I’m just going to have to provide some energy and go to the net for them.”

Morrison himself returned to the lineup earlier this week after Curtis Glencross was stricken by the flu. He had two goals and two assists in place of Glencross.

The expectations are a little different for the 21-year-old Nemisz.

“He’s been playing well in [Abbotsford] and we need him to carry it on it here,” coach Brent Sutter said. “Whether we use him on the wing or at center, we’ll see. A lot depends on where Alex is at tonight and whether he can play or not.”

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:

FLAMES

Curtis GlencrossOlli JokinenJarome Iginla
Greg NemiszBrendan MorrisonRene Bourque
Blake ComeauMikael BacklundLee Stempniak
Tom KostopoulosMatt StajanTim Jackman

Scott Hannan – T.J. Brodie
Jay BouwmeesterChris Butler
Derek SmithJoe Piskula

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving

OILERS

Sam GagnerRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle
Ryan SmythShawn HorcoffAles Hemsky
Ben EagerEric BelangerRyan Jones
Magnus PaajarviAnton Lander – Lenart Petrell

Ladislav SmidTom Gilbert
Ryan WhitneyJeff Petry
Theo PeckhamColten Teubert

Nikolai Khabibulan
Devan Dybnyk
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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 2:14 PM

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

Avalanche await word on Porter's availability

CALGARY -- Colorado Avalanche coach Joe Sacco isn't sure if he'll have forward Kevin Porter at his disposal tonight against the Calgary Flames.

Porter is scheduled to have a hearing with the NHL later today concerning a kneeing infraction on David Booth in Tuesday night's game against the Vancouver Canucks.

"The hearing is set for today so I'll know more after the hearing," Sacco said.

The Avalanche coach does know he will be without both Ryan Wilson and Paul Stastny tonight. Wilson suffered a head injury against Vancouver while a torso injury will keep Stastny out.

"Both players will be out of the lineup tonight," Sacco said. "They're still day-to-day right now."

That's bad news for the Avalanche, who have lost eight consecutive games to the Flames dating back to Oct. 28, 2010.

The team will turn to Jean-Sebastien Giguere in hopes of stopping that skid. Giguere has a 4-3-0 record this season with a 1.81 goals-against-average and .925 save percentage.

"We have back-to-back games coming up here tonight and tomorrow in Edmonton," Sacco said. "My plan all along was to make sure Jiggy got in one of those games and decided he's played well against these guys. We'll give him another crack at them."

AVALANCHE
TJ Galiardi - Matt Duchene - Brandon Yip
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
Daniel Winnik - Jay McClement - Chuck Kobasew
Cody McLeod - Kevin Porter - David Jones

Kyle Quincey - Shane O'Brien
Erik Johnson - Stefan Elliott
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov


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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 1:42 PM

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

Breakthrough performance keeps Morrison in lineup

CALGARY -- When Brendan Morrison was inserted onto the Flames' top line in place of flu-stricken forward Curtis Glencross Tuesday, all coach Brent Sutter wanted was for the veteran to come in and play a role.

That role turned out to be scoring two goals and adding a pair of assists in a wild 7-6 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Though it's earned him another start in the lineup -- his first back-to-back games since Nov. 23-25 -- Morrison knows he doesn't need another four-point outing to stay in the lineup.

"I've been around long enough that the odds are that's not going to happen," Morrison said. "If we can find other ways to contribute, whether it is to win faceoffs or create chances for my linemates, it doesn't matter as long as we win games."

Though he found chemistry on the wing with Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginla against Carolina, Morrison will move back to center between Alex Tanguay and Rene Bourque tonight against the Colorado Avalanche.

With Glencross back in the lineup, rookie Roman Horak will sit.

Sutter hopes it will be a learning experience for the 20-year-old, who has 2 goals and 9 points in 25 games this season.

"Roman's a young player, and like all young players there's certain things in his game he needs to continue to work on and maybe slipped a little and we want to get it back where he needs to," Sutter said. "There are a couple things I want him to watch tonight and see the game. It's good for young players to do -- to watch the game and get a different perspective, a different view on it."

FLAMES

Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Alex Tanguay - Brendan Morrison - Rene Bourque
Blake Comeau - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
T.J. Brodie - Scott Hannan
Derek Smith - Joe Piskula

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 3:34 PM

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

Sutters clash as father coaches against son

CALGARY -- Though it's an important two points for two franchises that have struggled this season, there's more than just a win on the line tonight when the Calgary Flames host the Carolina Hurricanes.

Family bragging rights are up for grabs.

Son Brandon, a forward for the Hurricanes, will try to get the better of father Brent, who serves as Calgary's coach, as the two Sutters square off at the Scotiabank Saddledome for the only meeting between the two this season.

"They always are," Brandon said. "Hopefully I can find a way to get them this year."

Retain might be a better word. Brandon had an assist in last season's 6-5 shootout win for the Hurricanes. The previous season, though, Brent's Flames beat Brandon's Hurricanes 4-1.

"I think last year we beat him so I'm trying to keep that train rolling," said Brandon, who has 5 goals and 10 points in 28 games this season. "It's a little nicer for the bragging rights, that's for sure."

It's more complicated than just having the right to boast for Brent, who also served as Brandon's coach with the Red Deer Rebels throughout his three-year junior career.

"It's never an easy thing, believe me," Brent said of coaching a son. "It's a lot harder on me then it is him. That's the way it is. Like I told him yesterday, I hope he has a great game, but as long as we finish one goal ahead of him it's a great day for me and a crappy one for him. It's just the way it is when you’re a coach and your son plays in the National Hockey League."

As per Sutter family rules, ice will be thicker than blood -- at least temporarily.

"It's game day," said Brent, who has guided the Flames to an 11-13-2 start this season. "Our makeup is, and our DNA is, that's the way we are. He's focused on trying to help the Carolina Hurricanes as a player and my job is to help the Calgary Flames as a coach. When the game is over, it's over."

If ever there was a household divide, mother/wife Connie provides the ultimate trump card.

"She has an easier time worrying about me than him," Brandon said.

Brent concurred.

"Guaranteed she's not cheering for her husband," he said.

Which means Brent will have to hear it twice should the Flames fall to Carolina.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 2:46 PM

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

Muller sticks with same lineup in search for first win

CALGARY -- Carolina Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller will continue with a lineup of 11 forwards and seven defensemen as he searches for his first win since taking over as coach.

Muller, who is 0-3-0 since replacing Paul Maurice, will have one new face in the lineup tonight. Goaltender Mike Murphy was called up on an emergency basis from AHL Charlotte to replace Brian Boucher, who suffered a lower-body injury in practice yesterday.

It's one face Muller will be familiar with.

"He's a Kingston (Ont.) kid, so I’ve known Murph since he was a kid," Muller said, himself a Kingston native. "One of the kids I know the most is coming up. I got a break there."

Muller hasn't gotten a break since joining Carolina. The team has lost five consecutive games as Muller looks to instill a new identity in the club, one of teamwork.

"I don't care if you're minus-15, I don't care if you have 1 goal, let's look at today and see how we can be better," Muller said. "Let's just do it together. No one has to be Superman. It's strength in numbers. Let's get out of this together. Let's just come tonight and have fun and play hard and let's see where we're at. We've been doing that for three games, so we just have to keep getting them to believe in it."

We had the likely Flames lineup earlier. Here's what the Hurricanes lineup likely will look like:

Jeff Skinner - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose
Jiri Tlusty - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Andreas Nodl - Anthony Stewart

Bryan Allen - Derek Joslin
Tim Gleason - Justin Faulk
Joni Pitkanen - Tomas Kaberle
Jamie McBain

Cam Ward will start in goal, with Mike Murphy to serve as the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 2:06 PM

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

Flu could keep Glencross out of Flames' lineup

CALGARY -- If a bout with the flu has KO'ed Calgary Flames forward Curtis Glencross, Brendan Morrison is ready to step in.

Coach Brent Sutter wasn't willing to rule Glencross out for tonight's game against the Carolina Hurricanes, but couldn't confirm whether he would be available.

"He's not feeling very good, so we kept him away from the rink this morning," Sutter said. "We'll know more as the day goes on whether he's going to be able to participate or not."

The absence of Glencross could open the door for the return of Morrison, who has been a healthy scratch for the previous five games. Morrison would take Glencross' spot on Calgary's top line with Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen.

"It all depends on the situation with Glennie," Morrison said. "I'll be ready to play if that's the case."

Morrison has been in and out of the lineup sporadically this season. He started the year recovering from knee surgery before returning to the lineup for eight games. Having not fully recovered from the injury, Morrison was then placed on injured reserve, missing another six games.

"Nobody wants to sit and watch too many games, but at the same time you want to get back to a level where you can help the team when you're on the ice," Morrison said. "I feel I'm real close, if not there now. If I get the call, I'm ready."

Tonight's projected lineup for the Flames:

Brendan Morrison - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Blake Comeau - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak
Alex Tanguay - Roman Horak - Rene Bourque
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
T.J. Brodie - Scott Hannan
Derek Smith - Joe Piskula

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 3:08 PM

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

Sanford earns eighth straight start

CALGARY -- The message from Columbus Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel is simple – keep playing well, keep playing.

Goaltender Curtis Sanford has earned his eighth consecutive start tonight, against the Calgary Flames, after stopping 30 of 33 shots against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.

"Right now, he's earned the opportunity to continue to be back in the net," Arniel said. "He's been very good for us. He's given us a chance to win. We're just taking this a game at a time, and if he continues to play the way he is, he's going to get another look."

Sanford has been impressive in eight games this season for Columbus, posting a 3-2-2 record with a 1.61 goals-against average and .941 save percentage.

Sanford said he isn't sure where this run of success has come from.

"I really don't know," Sanford said. "I'm just really enjoying being here. That's the big thing. I'm really enjoying coming to the rink every day. I'm not putting as much pressure on myself to be great, I'm just taking it day by day and breaking the season down that way. It's just really fun to come to the rink."

The 32-year-old has played in just 116 NHL games over the course of his 13-year professional career, but has found inspiration in the likes of Tim Thomas, who emerged as an All-Star-caliber goaltender in his 30's.

"Absolutely, he's a perfect example," Sanford said. "Him and Dwayne Roloson are perfect examples for a guy like me just to never give up and keep improving, wait for an opportunity, and when you get it, just be ready for it. So far things have gone well. It's still early in the season, it's only eight games, but I hope to keep building on it."

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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 1:52 PM

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

Potenital lineups for Blue Jackets, Flames

With Mark Giordano out with an injury, the Flames will have to tinker with their blue line to make up for his absence. The Blue Jackets, who are playing .500 hockey in their last 10 games, will continue to ride Curtis Sanford between the pipes.

Here is what each team's lineups will likely be tonight.

FLAMES

Curtis GlencrossOlli JokinenJarome Iginla
Alex TanguayRoman HorakRene Bourque
Blake ComeauMikael BacklundLee Stempniak
Tom Kostopolous – Matt StajanTim Jackman

Scott Hannan – T.J. Brodie
Jay BouwmeesterChris Butler
Derek SmithCory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson

BLUE JACKETS
Vinny ProspalJeff CarterRick Nash
R.J. UmbergerMark LetestuRyan Johansen
Antoine VermetteSamuel PahlssonDerek Dorsett
Derick BrassardDerek MacKenzieJared Boll

Marc MethotJames Wisniewski
Fedor TyutinNikita Nikitin
John MooreGrant Clitsome

Curtis Sanford
Steve Mason
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 1:50 PM

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

Flames taking group approach to replacing Giordano

The Calgary Flames hope a returning veteran and a pair of rookies will ease the absence of workhorse Mark Giordano.
 
Cory Sarich will draw into the lineup in place of the injured Giordano, who suffered a hamstring injury in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory against the Nashville Predators.

“You don’t replace a guy like that but what you do is, the workload has to be spread around,” coach Brent Sutter said. “A guy like Cory has to come into the lineup and give us some quality minutes.”

Sarich, who has been a healthy scratch for the last four games and nine of the last 11, is hoping to burn some pent-up energy on the Blue Jackets.

“Take out some frustration on the opponent, that’s usually a good idea, a good way to get into the game,” Sarich said. “I’m just looking forward to helping, contributing. It’s hard to do that from the sidelines. Tonight’s my chance. It’s no fun sitting and watching, so when you have a chance to get out there and give’r, you try to make the most of it.”

The club will also lean on rookies T.J. Brodie and Derek Smith to help carry the load in the absence of Giordano, who has averaged 22:10 of ice time this season.

“Those guys have done a tremendous job when Gio was here and even the other night they filled in extremely well and logged a lot of minutes for us,” defenseman Chris Butler said, sporting eight stitches to his cheek after taking a puck to the face against the Predators. “They’re playing great hockey for us.”

Smith, who played a season-high 22:33 against Nashville, is ready to soak up the minutes after Tuesday’s experience.

“The minutes went up a lot,” Smith said. “Me and T.J. weren’t used to playing those minutes. It worked out well for us and hopefully the increased role will help us tonight too.”

Injuries have ravaged the Flames blue line this season.

Giordano joins Anton Babchuk (hand) on the injured reserve, while Brett Carson is close to returning from an offseason back injury. Carson has been assigned to the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL on a conditioning stint.
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.29.2011 / 2:29 PM

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

No Geoffrion for Predators

The Nashville Predators will be without Blake Geoffrion tonight against the Calgary Flames. The left wing suffered an upper-body injury in yesterday's 2-1 victory against the Edmonton Oilers.

Geoffrion was hurt after taking a hard hit behind the net in the second period from Oilers defenseman Ryan Jones.

Though Jones was assessed a major penalty on the play, Geoffrion didn't think the hit was dirty.

"I thought it was just a hockey play, really," Geoffrion said. "Kind of shoulder on shoulder and got his hands up a little after. I don't think it was a cheap shot or anything like that. I know Jonesy a little bit. I don't think he's a dirty player like that. Just a hockey play."

Predators coach Barry Trotz said he doesn't expect to be without Geoffrion for long.

"No surgery," Trotz said. "He'll be back fairly shortly. He feels much better today than he did yesterday, that's for sure. I'll suspect he won't be much maybe more than a week."

Nashville has recalled Kyle Wilson from Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League. Either he or Brian McGrattan will step into Geoffrion's place in tonight's lineup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.29.2011 / 2:20 PM

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

Flames feel lucky to have Hannan, Tanguay tonight

CALGARY -- Despite a pair of injury scares late in Sunday's 5-2 win against the Minnesota Wild, the Calgary Flames will return to the ice intact tonight when they face the Nashville Predators.

Both Alex Tanguay and Scott Hannan will be in the lineup despite leaving Sunday's contest in the third period.

Hannan appeared to have suffered a serious injury after falling awkwardly on his knee in the final minutes of the game, and Flames coach Brent Sutter was relieved the veteran defenseman didn't suffer a more serious injury.

"When you look at how it happened, it's a good thing he didn't get injured on it," Sutter said. "At the time he was a little sore, but he's recovered from it in the last 48 hours. That's a good thing. When you see something like that you're always thinking the worst, but it worked out good."

Tanguay, who left the game midway through the third period with an apparent shoulder injury, also will be in tonight's lineup.

Here's how the teams could line up tonight:

FLAMES
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Alex Tanguay - Roman Horak - Rene Bourque
Blake Comeau - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
T.J. Brodie - Derek Smith

Miikka Kiprusoff will start in goal, with Henrik Karlsson the backup.

PREDATORS
Colin Wilson - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist
Martin Erat - Mike Fisher - Sergei Kostitsyn
Jordin Tootoo - Craig Smith - Nick Spaling
Matt Halischuk - Jerred Smithson - Brian McGrattan

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Jonathan Blum - Kevin Klein
Jack Hillen - Roman Josi

Pekka Rinne will start in goal, with Anders Lindback the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 2:48 PM

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

Smith replaces ailing Frolik in Blackhawks' lineup

CALGARY -- Ben Smith will draw into the Chicago Blackhawks lineup tonight against the Calgary Flames as Michael Frolik announced he was a no-go after suffering an upper-body injury against the Vancouver Canucks.

Frolik suffered the injury after sliding awkwardly into the boards in the third period of Tuesday's 5-1 win.
Despite taking the morning skate, Frolik ruled himself out of tonight's contest.

"It's not really great," Frolik said. "I'll probably not be in tonight. We'll see tomorrow. Every day is progress. It's sore and I can't be strong tonight so we'll see."

Ben Smith will be inserted into the game in the place of Frolik. He was recalled yesterday from Rockford of the American Hockey League.

"Benny, I think he's useful in a lot of ways," coach Joel Quenville said. "He can play all three positions. He can play, whether it's a checking role or an offensive role. He's going to be useful for us. Looks like we're happy to have him back."

Chicago will also be without the services of defenseman Brent Seabrook for a second consecutive contest. Seabrook is out with a lower-body injury and isn't expected back in the next few games.

"Seebs is, we'll say, doubtful for tomorrow, out for tonight," Quenville confirmed.
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 1:48 PM

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

Sarich returns, Morrison possible for Flames

CALGARY -- After being a healthy scratch for five consecutive games, Calgary Flames defenseman Cory Sarich will draw back into the lineup tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The experienced Sarich, who last played Nov. 4 against the Buffalo Sabres, is expected to draw in for first-year defenseman Derek Smith.

"Cory will get himself back in the lineup but he's no different from anyone else," coach Brent Sutter said. "They have to perform, they have to play up to expectations."

Those expectations include improving on the team's 7-9-1 record.

Rene Bourque, who has missed the Flames' last two practices as maintenance, confirmed he will also be in the lineup.

"I feel good, just a little bruised-up," Bourque said after the morning skate. "I'll be ready tonight."

Calgary could get an unexpected boost from another returning veteran.

Center Brendan Morrison, who has also missed the last five games due to inadequate rehabilitation of his ACL knee surgery, is being monitored on a daily basis by the team.

"We think he's getting really close and so does he," Sutter said. "It's basically kind of a game-to-game situation right now. It's 50/50."

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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 1:45 PM

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

Projected lineups for Flames, Blackhawks

Here is what the lineups could look like when the Blackhawks and Flames take the ice tonight in Calgary:

FLAMES
Alex Tanguay - Mikael Backlund - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Rene Bourque
Paul Byron - Roman Horak - Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris ButlerJay Bouwmeester
Mark GiordanoScott Hannan
TJ BrodieCory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff will be in goal against the Blackhawks, with Henrik Karlsson as his backup.

BLACKHAWKS
Viktor Stalberg - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Daniel Carcillo - Patrick Kane - Patrick Sharp
Bryan Bickell - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith
Andrew Brunette - Dave Bolland - Jamal Mayers

Duncan Keith - Steve Montador
Nick Leddy - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Sami Lepisto - John Scott

Corey Crawford is expected to start against the Flames with Ray Emery the backup.
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 3:14 PM

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

Moss' absence gives chance to Byron

CALGARY -- Like Ottawa, the Flames will be without a key member of its forward core.

Flames coach Brent Sutter confirmed center David Moss, who played just 6:52 after suffering a lower-body injury in Calgary's 4-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, will not play.
 
Moss' absence opens the door for Paul Byron to make his Scotiabank Saddledome debut. Byron was recalled from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League in time to join the club on its two-game road trip this past weekend, and he scored his first goal as a member of the Flames in Saturday's game in Colorado.

"It feels really good," Byron said. "I worked pretty hard down in Abbotsford. It feels good to be the one that gets to be called up."

Another Flame is nearing his season debut as well.

While he's not ready to play just yet, defenseman Brett Carson has resumed practicing with the Flames. Carson has missed training camp and the start of the regular season with a back injury.

"It's feeling a lot better," Carson said. "I made a lot of progression in the last couple weeks. I felt pretty good out there, now it's just a matter of strengthening it and making sure it's not just going to flare up again."
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 3:12 PM

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

No Neil for Senators

CALGARY -- While the rest of his Senators teammates are set to embark on the Western Canada leg of their current six-game road trip, veteran forward Chris Neil stayed in Ottawa.

Nursing an ankle injury, Neil did not join the team on their trip to Calgary and was placed on injured reserve.
 
Though the club has Bobby Butler and Erik Condra filling the role played by Neil, there is no replacing the 32-year-old, coach Paul MacLean said.

"You always miss Chris Neil and his physical play," MacLean said. "We lose his physicality and that presence that he brings to the rink every night. We don't have another element like that, but it's an opportunity for Bobby Butler to play and Condra to play up in the lineup a little bit. Condra's played real well in the place of Chris Neil."

While Neil is out, a familiar sight will be in net for Ottawa.

Goalie Craig Anderson is scheduled to make his seventh consecutive start for the Senators. Tonight marks the 17th game this season for the workhorse, who currently shares the lead in games played among goaltenders with Ondrej Pavelec of the Winnipeg Jets.
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 3:10 PM

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

Potential lineups for Flames, Senators

CALGARY -- Here is what the lineups for the Senators and Flames could look like tonight when they face off in Calgary.

FLAMES
Alex Tanguay - Mikael Backlund - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Rene Bourque
Paul Byron - Roman Horak - Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
T.J. Brodie - Derek Smith

Miikka Kiprusoff will start in goal, with Henrik Karlsson the backup

SENATORS
Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Milan Michalek
Nick Foligno - Stephane Da Costa - Daniel Alfredsson
Kaspars Daugavins - Zack Smith - Erik Condra
Zenon Konopka - Jesse Winchester - Bobby Butler

Erik Karlsson - Filip Kuba
Chris Phillips - Sergei Gonchar
Jared Cowen - Brian Lee

Craig Anderson again will start in goal, with Alex Auld the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:00 PM

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

Backstrom gets chance to reclaim Wild net

CALGARY -- Yesterday Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding was named the NHL's First Star of the Week after winning all three starts and posting a 0.99 goals against average and .968 save percentage.

Today he'll get some rest and serve as backup to Niklas Backstrom as the Wild take on the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

"It's not Backstrom over Harding," Wild coach Mike Yeo said of the decision in the crease. "When Hards was rolling we wanted to give him a chance to go but didn't want Backs sitting on the bench for two weeks and then all of a sudden throw him in the lineup and expect him to perform at the same level that he has. We eyed this as a game that would be a good opportunity for him to get back in there."

Backstrom's last start came on Oct. 27, a 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

"I think that most people would agree having good goaltending is an important key to being successful as a team and without question it hasn't mattered who we put in the net," Yeo said. "Between Hards and Backy, both guys have gone in on their own turns and done a great job for us."

Cal Clutterbuck is questionable to play after suffering an injury in the second period of Saturday's game against the St. Louis Blues.

"We'll just see how I feel when I get up from my nap and decide if I'm going to take warm ups and then from there I'll decide if I play or not," Clutterbuck said.

Should he be unable to go, Warren Peters will slide into the lineup. Peters was called up from the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League earlier today.

While Clutterbuck isn't certain to play, the Flames will be aided in tonight's game by the return of David Moss.

Moss missed Calgary’s 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche Sunday after blocking a shot against the Buffalo Sabres two nights prior.

"I feel good," Moss said after the morning skate. "I was able to skate today so I feel good to go. It happens and it's part of the game. Maybe (I'll) learn how to block shots better."

Flames coach Brent Sutter confirmed Moss' place in the lineup if he feels ready to go.

"If he's ready to play he's going to play," Sutter said. "He's a big part of our forward group up front and he seems like he's feeling quite a bit better today so it's a good sign."

Mikael Backlund is nearing his season debut for the Flames, but it wont be in tonight's game against Minnesota.

"Expect him soon," Sutter said of Backlund, who is recovering from a broken pinky finger. "We're going to continue to take it day-to-day here, get him through a few practices, but he's getting really close."

Backlund all but confirmed he was ready to go as soon as Calgary's coaching staff deemed fit.

"Obviously I want to play all the time," he said. "I don't want to sit out. It's boring. It's frustrating when you can't help the team. I've been pretty patient and positive all the time and I'll keep doing it until I get my chance to play again."
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 2:57 PM

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

Projected lineups for Flames, Wild

Here are the projected lineups for when the Calgary Flames face the Minnesota Wild tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome:

FLAMES
Alex TanguayRoman HorakJarome Iginla
Curtis GlencrossOlli JokinenRene Bourque
Niklas HagmanMatt StajanLee Stempniak
Tom KostopoulosDavid MossTim Jackman

Jay BouwmeesterChris Butler
Mark GiordanoScott Hannan
Derek SmithAnton Babchuk

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson

WILD

Guillaume LatendresseMikko KoivuDany Heatley
Devin SetoguchiMatt CullenPierre-Marc Bouchard
Cal ClutterbuckKyle BrodziakNick Johnson
Colton GilliesDarroll PoweBrad Staubitz

Nick SchultzMarek Zidlicky
Marco ScandellaJared Spurgeon
Justin FalkNate Prosser

Niklas Backstrom
Josh Harding
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.01.2011 / 3:45 PM

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

Potential lineups for Flames, Canucks

CALGARY -- Against the Flames tonight, the Canucks are expected to use the same lineup they went with in Saturday's 7-4 win against the Washington Capitals. That means defenseman Alexander Sulzer, who signed as a free agent with Vancouver in July, will draw into his third consecutive game of the season after sitting out the first nine games of the season.

"I've really liked what I've seen from him on the right side," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "He seems to be the most comfortable out of the possibilities we have. I like the way he competes 1-on-1 and I like the way he moves the puck. As a (defenseman), when you're dependable and the coach knows what you're going to do on the ice, there's a confidence and a trust. So far with him we definitely have that."

For the Flames, their big change is dressing a 12th forward, which means Matt Stajan comes back into the lineup after sitting out the last two games as a healthy scratch.

Here's what the lineups for both teams likely will look like, based on this morning's practices:

FLAMES
Alex Tanguay - Brendan Morrison - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - David Moss
Rene Bourque - Roman Horak - Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Jay Bouwmeester - Chris Butler
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
Derek Smith - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff will start in goal, with Henrik Karlsson backing him up.

CANUCKS
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
David Booth - Ryan Kesler - Cody Hodgson
Chris Higgins - Manny Malhotra - Jannik Hansen
Aaron Volpatti - Maxime Lapierre - Dale Weise

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alexander Edler - Sami Salo
Keith Ballard - Alexander Sulzer

Roberto Luongo will be in goal, with Cory Schneider the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.01.2011 / 3:40 PM

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

Stajan back in tonight for Flames

CALGARY -- Despite winning the last two games using a formula combining 11 forwards with seven defensemen, the Calgary Flames hope to extend their winning streak to three games with a win against the Vancouver Canucks tonight by returning to the more conventional 12-6 configuration.
That means welcoming center Matt Stajan back into the lineup.

"Well we are going to dress 12 forwards tonight so Matt's going in to play center ice for us," Flames coach Brent Sutter said. "We need Matt to come in and he's got to bring us some juice and he's got to be a real solid, competitive player for us. I'm not putting any expectations on him or anything like that. I just want him to come in and play well."

Stajan draws into the lineup after spending the last two games as a healthy scratch.

"I'd be lying if I said I'm not frustrated," Stajan said. "Obviously I'm not happy with the situation because I want to play -- every player does. I get my chance tonight and go in there and do a job. The good thing is we're starting to roll now. We're starting to win as a team."

The formula for staying in the lineup is simple, Stajan said.

"I've been pretty happy with my game so far this year and talking to Brent, obviously we'd like more production, but do the little things and the rest will come," he said. "I'm making sure I'm not turning the puck over and get the puck in deep and win faceoffs when I'm out there. Take care of the little things and hopefully the rest follows."

More in a bit with lineups for both teams.
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Posted On Friday, 10.28.2011 / 2:48 PM

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

Blues continue to ride the hot hand with Elliott

CALGARY -- The St. Louis Blues will turn to Brian Elliott tonight in hopes of pushing their season-high winning streak to four games.

Elliott has started the last three contests for the Blues and has allowed just four goals on 97 shots in that span. In all, Elliott is 4-0-0 with a 1.59 goals-against average and .950 save percentage this season.

"It's a decision based on performance and how the team is playing and what we feel he can give us tonight," Blues coach Davis Payne said.

The move leaves a struggling Jaroslav Halak on the bench.

"We know Jaro's a guy we're going to continue to lean on," Payne said. "He's a good goaltender. He's going to get that chance to go back in as well. Right now we feel we're making decisions based on what gives our team success tonight."

The Blues have already found success against Calgary this season, defeating the Flames 5-2 on Oct. 10. Calgary will look to even the season series and will be aided by the return of Curtis Glencross, who was absent from Wednesday's 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche.

Though there was optimism Glencross could play against Colorado, the team opted to err on the side of caution and kept him out of the lineup. The extra time to recover was important, Glencross said.

"You don't want something that lingers and something that's nagging the whole time," he said. "If you come back a little early then you're hurt for a couple weeks. It was good to get a couple days and get some treatment. I feel good now."

Calgary went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen in his absence. Head coach Brent Sutter said he liked what he saw out of the lineup, which allowed defenseman Anton Babchuk to draw back into the lineup.

"Tonight there's probably a good chance it could happen again," Sutter said. "I thought it worked well the other night. It was good to see Babs back in the lineup and playing. He was a key contributor to our third goal on the power play and we can use his shot on the power play. I never wanted to take any other defense out of the lineup. By doing that we had to go down to 11 forwards."

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Posted On Friday, 10.28.2011 / 2:45 PM

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

Projected lineups for the Flames, Blues

Here's how the lineups could look when the Calgary Flames take on the St. Louis Blues tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome:

FLAMES

Alex TanguayBrendan MorrisonJarome Iginla
Curtis GlencrossOlli JokinenDavid Moss
Lee StempniakRoman HorakRene Bourque
Tom KostopoulosTim Jackman

Chris ButlerJay Bouwmeester
Mark GiordanoScott Hannan
Derek SmithCory Sarich
Anton Babchuk

Miikka Kiprusoff is expected to get the start in goal with Henrik Karlsson serving as his backup.

BLUES
Vladimir SobotkaDavid BackesChris Stewart
T.J. OshiePatrik BerglundMatt D'Agostini
Alex SteenJason ArnottJamie Langenbrunner
Evgeny GrachevScott NicholChris Porter

Kent HuskinsAlex Pietrangelo
Barrett Jackman – Kevin Shattenkirk
Carlo ColaiacovoRoman Polak

Brian Elliott is expected to get the start in goal with Jaroslav Halak serving as his backup.
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 3:37 PM

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

Flames' Glencross questionable to face Avalanche

If the Calgary Flames hope to avoid a season-high three game losing streak against the division rival Colorado Avalanche tonight, they may have to do it without a key contributor.

Curtis Glencross, whose 3 goals are enough for a share of the team lead with Rene Bourque, is questionable for the game. He did not practice with the team Tuesday, citing lower-body soreness, but participated in today's optional skate.

"We need him to play like he can," Flames coach Brent Sutter said. "We don't want to have him playing if it's something where he's only playing at a part capacity he can play at. He'll let us know. He felt much better today. He wants to give it a shot, so we'll make that decision after warm-up."

If he does decide he can go, Glencross will be reunited with Olli Jokinen and David Moss, a line that found its share of success a season ago.

"We're all on the same page," Glencross said. "We have the same mentality of cycling the puck and getting pucks to the net. We make it tough on other team's top lines when we can play a lot of time in their end and keep them out of our zone. Any time we can get it in and cycle the puck around and kill time, that's our job."

The trio had 9 goals and 12 assists against the Avalanche last season, helping the Flames to a five-game win streak over Colorado.

The Avalanche are hoping struggling center Matt Duchene can step up in order to defeat the Flames and extend their personal road winning streak to seven games, which would tie the franchise record set in 1999.

"I think Matty knows that he needs to be better for us and I'm quite confident he will be better," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "He has gotten off to bit of a slow start. The good news is the team has responded well. With him it's a matter of just sticking with it. It's only eight games into the season here. There's still a marathon left."

Duchene, who led Colorado in scoring a season ago, is coming off a season-low 11:35 of ice time in the club's 5-4 shootout victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday. He's expected to skate between Joakim Lindstrom and Chuck Kobasew against the Flames.

"It's only eight games in," said Duchene, who has just 1 goal to start the year. "I don't think you can classify it as a bad start until game 20. Hopefully I can recover and help this team, but we're winning so they haven't really needed anything from me yet. Hopefully when they do need it I can help out."
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 3:19 PM

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

Potential lineups for Avalanche, Flames

These are how the lineups might look when the Colorado Avalanche face the Calgary Flames tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome:

FLAMES
Alex TanguayBrendan MorrisonJarome Iginla
Curtis GlencrossOlli JokinenDavid Moss
Rene BourqueMatt StajanLee Stempniak
Tom KostopoulosRoman HorakTim Jackman

Jay BouwmeesterChris Butler
Mark GiordanoScott Hannan
Derek SmithCory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff is expected to start in goal with Henrik Karlsson serving as the backup.

AVALANCHE

David JonesPaul StastnyMilan Hejduk
Gabriel LandeskogRyan O'ReillyDaniel Winnik
Joakim LindstromMatt DucheneChuck Kobasew
Cody McLeodTJ GaliardiJay McClement

Jan HejdaErik Johnson
Shane O'BrienKyle Quincey
Ryan WilsonRyan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov is expected to start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere serving as the backup.
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Posted On Saturday, 10.22.2011 / 1:19 PM

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

Kiprusoff expected to be back for Flames

Miikka Kiprusoff is expected to return to the crease as the Calgary Flames take on the Nashville Predators in a Saturday matinee.

Kiprusoff, who the Flames are hoping to give a lighter workload to this season, watched his club gave up a goal with 1.4 seconds left in overtime to fall 3-2 to the New York Rangers on Thursday.

The Predators, meanwhile, will have the services of defenseman Shea Weber against Calgary. Weber was fined $2,500, but not suspended, by NHL Vice-president of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan for an illegal hit on Jannik Hansen of the Vancouver Canucks.

Here are the projected lineups:

Calgary Flames

Alex TanguayDavid MossJarome Iginla
Curtis GlencrossOlli JokinenLee Stempniak
Niklas HagmanBrendan MorrisonRene Bourque
Tom KostopoulosMatt StajanTim Jackman

Jay BouwmeesterChris Butler
Mark GiordanoScott Hannan
Cory SarichDerek Smith

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson

Nashville Predators

Colin WilsonDavid LegwandMatt Halischuk
Sergei KostitsynNick SpalingCraig Smith
Jordin TootooJerred SmithsonBrian McGrattan
Patric HornqvistBlake GeoffrionNiclas Bergfors

Ryan SuterShea Weber
Jonathon BlumKevin Klein
Jack HillenTeemu Laakso

Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback
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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 4:31 PM

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

Henrik vs. Henrik in Calgary

Henrik Karlsson will be in net for the Calgary Flames against the New York Rangers tonight, as the Flames look to win their second straight game on their current six-game homestand.

"As far as Hank (Karlsson) goes, we're confident and there's no change to our game plan when he's in or when Kipper (Miikka Kiprusoff) is in," Flames defenseman Mark Giordano said.

Calgary is hoping to use Karlsson more this season to alleviate Kiprusoff's workload. Kiprusoff has played at least 71 games in each of the previous six seasons.

"We have a plan in place that we're going to stick to,” Flames coach Brent Sutter said. "It could change, but at this point in time we're going to stick to it. We've said all along we want to see Kipper playing in less games and he personally knows it's the right thing for him, too. To do that we have to get our other guy in and Karl is going to have an opportunity to play."

The Rangers are expected to counter with a Henrik of their own.

Henrik Lundqvist should get the start for the Rangers. He turned aside all 40 shots he faced in a 4-0 shutout of the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.

It will be Lundqvist's 31st consecutive regular-season start, dating to Feb. 11, 2011.

The game also marks the Calgary debut of Rangers defenseman Tim Erixon. Erixon was selected by the Flames in the first round in the 2009 Entry Draft. Unable to come to a contract agreement, however, the 20-year-old was dealt, along with a fifth round pick, to the Rangers in exchange for center Roman Horak and a pair of second round picks.

Had the Flames not signed or traded Erixon, the defenseman would have re-entered the draft.

Erixon is expecting a chilly response from the Calgary faithful.

"If they feel like they have to do that (boo him), that's up to them," Erixon said. "I don't really care about that. I'm just going to go out and play my game and focus on helping the team."

Here are the projected lineups for each team based on this morning's practices:

FLAMES
Alex Tanguay - David Moss - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Lee Stempniak
Niklas Hagman - Brendan Morrison - Rene Bourque
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Jay Bouwmeester - Chris Butler
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
Cory Sarich - Derek Smith

Henrik Karlsson will start in goal, with Miikka Kiprusoff the backup.

RANGERS
Derek Stepan - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Artem Anisimov - Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko - Brian Boyle - Brandon Prust
Mike Rupp - Erik Christensen - Kris Newbury

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Tim Erixon - Michael Del Zotto
Jeff Woywitka - Steve Eminger

Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal, with Martin Biron serving as the backup.





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Posted On Tuesday, 10.18.2011 / 3:28 PM

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

Battle of Alberta debut for Nugent-Hopkins

Edmonton Oilers rookie center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has experienced a lot of firsts in his four-game NHL career.

His fifth contest will introduce him to another one -- the Battle of Alberta.

While Nugent-Hopkins, the first pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, hasn't experienced the clash first hand, he's more than familiar with it, having played his junior hockey in Red Deer, which is situated almost exactly between the two Alberta cities.

"You always watch these games and they're always intense," Nugent-Hopkins said.  "There's obviously a big rivalry between the two teams. It should be really fun."

If Nugent-Hopkins is unsure of what to expect, he can ask teammate Jordan Eberle.

Eberle was introduced to the Battle of Alberta in his first National Hockey League game last season, scoring his first NHL goal -- this highlight-reel beauty -- against Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff



"It was a lot of energy in Rexall and probably my fondest memory in the NHL," Eberle said. "Everyone remembers their first goal and that was special to me."

Flames forward Curtis Glencross is hoping to make Nugent-Hopkins' Battle of Alberta debut a little less memorable.

"He's been walking around untouched for a few games," Glencross said. "It's not our style of game. There's a good chance our line will be up against him tonight, so we'll have to get some bangs in early and see how he likes hitting."

The contest could mark the season debuts for players on both sides.

Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney, recovering from an ankle injury, is expected to be in tonight's lineup, as is Flames center Brendan Morrison, who has been sidelined recovering from surgery to repair a torn knee ligament.

Morrison, who will decide following pre-game warm-ups if he can go, said the Battle of Alberta would be a great way to test his knee.

"It will be a good test," he said. "It's not going to be a pond hockey game out there, I don't think. I'm looking forward to it if I do play. It's going to be a game-time decision here, so I'll prepare like I'm playing and I look forward to it."

If Morrison can't go, expect Roman Horak to take his place.

Flames forward Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond also looks to make his season debut tonight, adding some grit to what should be a physical affair. 

FLAMES
Alex Tanguay - David Moss - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Lee Stempniak
Niklas Hagman - Brendan Morrison - Rene Bourque
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Jay Bouwmeester - Chris Butler
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
Cory Sarich - Derek Smith

Miikka Kiprusoff will start in goal, with Henrik Karlsson the backup.

OILERS
Jordan Eberle - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Taylor Hall
Linus Omark - Eric Belanger - Magnus Paajarvi
Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Ryan Jones
Ben Eager - Anton Lander - Lennart Petrell

Ladislav Smid - Tom Gilbert
Cam Barker - Ryan Whitney
Andy Sutton - Corey Potter

Nikolai Khabibulin will start in goal, with Devan Dubnyk the backup.

For more on today's game, check out the preview here.


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Quote of the Day

What we expected is what we got. Very mature young individual that's focused. He is on the right track. He's not only a great hockey individual, but he's a good person off the ice. He seemed to take a leadership role with this group right off the hop and ran away with it, and was vocal, was respectful, was everything it takes to be a Panther. His future looks bright.

— Florida Panthers director of player development Brian Skrudland on defenseman Aaron Ekblad's performance at development camp