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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 9:15 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Calgary wins, 4-0

The Flames comntinued red-hot, despite the frigid temperatures at McMahon Stadium.

Calgary defeated Montreal, 4-0, in the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic, thanks to two goals by a dominant Rene Bourque and a 39-save performance by goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.

The game set several records, including most shots by a player (Bourque, 11), saves by a goalie (39, Kiprusoff), and shots by a team in a period (21,Montreal), which broke the record set just a period earlier by Calgary.

With the victory, Calgary improved to 11-1-2 in its past 14 games. As a result of the victory, Calgary jumped back into the playoff picture in the Western Conference, going from ninth place to sixth in the bottleneck that is the West heading down the stretch.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 9:09 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Record night

The 2011 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic was a record night.

Man of the match Rene Bourque led the way, firing off a record number of shots for an outdoor game by putting 11 pucks on Montreal goalie Carey Price. Two of those shots went in, making Bourque one of just five players to have a record two goals in an outdoor game. Montgreal's Yanic Perreault, Edmonton's Richard Zednik, Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk and Washington's Eric Fehr are the others.

But, Bourque was not the only one firing the puck as the teams set records for most shots in a period and a game. Calgary broke the shots for a period record in the first, taking 19 shots, two more than the record set by Detroit in the third period of the 2009 Winter classic at Wrigley Field. That record, however, only last 20 minutes as Montreal fired 21 shots in the second period.

All that shooting almost set the record for shots by both teams, which was 80. The teams finished with a combined 76 shots.

But, all that shooting did help set anoyther record. Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff stopped all 39 shots he faced in gaining the shutout, the first in the six-game history of outdoor games. The 39 saves broke the mark of Buffalo's Ty Conklin, who stopped 36 Pittsburgh shots in the inaugural Winter Classic in Buffalo.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 8:54 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Century club for Bourque

Sunday is certainly a day that Rene Bourque will not soon forget. He was the clear man of the match, scoring twice and firing off nine shots in the first 50 minutes of the game, but also the second of his two goals gave him 100 for his career.

Bourque reached 100 goals in 373 games.

The teams switched sides, as advertised, at the 10 minute mark of the third period with Montreal holding a 35-33 adavantage in shots. But, the wind did not hamper Calgary, who scored its fourth goal moments after the switch.

Jarome Iginla made a nifty little saucer pass, especially considering the ice conditions, across the Montreal crease and set up Alex tanguay for an easy tap-in.

Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff has been almost as good as Bourque, stopping the first 35 shots he has faced. The record for an NHL outdoor game is 36, held by Buffalo's Ty Conklin, who made 36 saves in the inaugural NHL Winter Classic. 
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 8:43 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Third period begins

Each team will spend half the third period with the wind at their back, which has been a clear advantage throughout this game. Calgary starts the period with the wind advantage, but will switch sides with Montreal at the 10-minute mark.

Once again, Dan Craig's ice crew scraped and flooded the ice by hand and it looked very good under the football stadium's lights.

The period also started quickly on the ice. The teams went more than five minutes without a whistle, which benefitted Calgary, who holds a 3-0 lead.

By the way, the announced attendance is 41,022 for the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 8:11 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Two periods done

Calgary leads 3-0 after two periods after Curtis Glencross and Rene Bourque scored second-period goals.

Bourque's goal was his second of the game and 19th of the season. He scored a 5-on-3 goal in the first period with a deft little tap-in.

Almost as impressively, Bourque has nine shots in the first two periods.

Calgary's two goals in the second period came against the run of play as Montreal dominated on the shot clock in the second, out-shooting Calgary 21-11.

That means that Calgary's record of 19 shots, set in the first period, lasted just 20 minutes. Notably, each team set the record while enjoying the wind advantage. After two periods, the teams have combined for 59 shots in two periods with Calgary holding a 30-29 advantage.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 8:03 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Flames take control

Curtis Glencross almost single-handedly made Calgary's shorthanded goal at 12:44 of the period happen to make it 2-0.

Glencross and Brendan Morrison somehow engineered a 2-on-1 break while Jay Bouwmeester was in the penalty box for tripping Max Pacioretty. Morrison passed to Glencross, but a snap shot from Glencross went wide. Glencross, though, chased down the shot behind the net and skated it into the corner. As he was checked, he slid a backhander to Anton Babchuk, who fired a one-timer past Carey Price.

Then, 122 seconds later, Rene Bourque made it 3-0 with his second goal of the night. Somehow, Bourque was able to corral a bouncing pass from Cory Sarich and get it to settle before he made a sweet deke to force Price commit before tucking the puck in the net.

Bourque is the fifth player to score two goals in an NHL outdoor game. Yanic Perreault, Richard Zednik, Jiri Hudler and Eric Fehr are the other players to turn that trick. Bourque's second goal came on his eighth shot on the night.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 7:51 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Changing winds of fortunes

The wind is certainly having an impact on this game.

Calgary had the advantage in the first period and translated it into a 19-8 advantage in shots. The 19 shots are a record for an outdoor game.

But, it has been a different story in the second period as Montreal has benefitted from the wind. With nine minutes gone in the second, Montreal holds a 12-3 advantage in shots.

Travis Moen and Hal Gill might have had the best chances of the first half of the period. Moen was sprung into the zone with a sweet pass, but Miikka Kiprusoff robbed him on a short-side bid. The rebound, however, eventually found its way to Gill at the point and his booming slapper was steered away by the goalie's blocker.

Not surprisingly, Rene Bourque has one of Calgary's three shots in the period. Tom Kostopoulos also had a shot in the second, a snapper that beat Carey Price to the five-hole, but banged off Price's pad and kicked just wide of the post.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 7:34 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

First-period notes

Dan Craig's ice crew is doing a yeoman-like job scraping and flooding the ice during the break.

And, it appears that Craig's ministrations are paying off.

Calgary's Rene Bourque said during the intermission that the ice wasn't too bad, "about what you could expect for a night like this," he said on CBC. Although he did say that there was a bad spot to the side of the Montreal net.

Montreal's Tomas Plekanec led Montreal with three shots and Cammalleri had two. Hal Gill led Montreal in ice time, playing 7:57 despite spending two minutes in the penalty box for tripping.

Calgary might have had a record 19 shots, but only three players managed more than one. As mentioned, Bourque had six and Tom Kostopoulos and Alex Tanguay each managed two shots. Nine other players had single shots. Jay Bouwmeester led Calgary in ice time, playing 7:56.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 7:11 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Record effort in first

The Calgary Flames head into the warmth of their dressing room after the first period holding a 1-0 lead on a Rene Bourque goal on a 5-on-3 advantage.

Calgary, playing with a stiff wind at its back, dominated the period, holding a 19-8 advantage after 20 minutes.

The 19 shots are an outdoor game record. The previous record is 17, which was set by Detroit in the third period of the 2009 Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Bourque was the most dominating man for the Flames, firing off seven shots, all of which translated into legitimate scoring opportunities.

Price, who did not have a chance on Bourque's tip-in goal, kept the Canadiens in the game with a very strong period.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 7:00 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Trading chances

After Rene Bourque opened the scoring -- No. 18 on the year for him, assisted by Alex tanguay and Olli Jokinen -- the game settled into more of a back-and-forth affair.

Mike Cammalleri, making his return to the lineup, was sprung on a semi breakaway, but was denied by Miikka Kiprusoff.

On the next shift, Tanguay had a good chance, but fired just wide of the post. Two minutes later, Bourque was looking for goal No. 2 with a slapper that Price sticked aside. Bourque gained the puck on a turnover by Subban, who was trying to make a long pass but was foiled when his stick shattered.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 6:50 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Ice is broken

Montreal took two tripping penalties in rapid succession to set up Calgary for the game-opening goal.

At the 6:11 mark, P.K. Subban was whistled for tripping Tom Kostopoulos in the corner. Thirty-three seconds later, Hal Gill went to the box after committing a trip at his own blue line.

Carey Price started the 5-on-3 kill well by robbing Bourque early in the two-man advantage. But, Bourque got even when he tipped a shot past price at the 8:09 mark.

Gill was playing in his first game after returning from injury, Defenseman James Wisniewski also played in the game, despite taking a puck to the cheek just three days earlier. He had to play with a full shield. Mike Cammalleri also returned to the lineup after a long absence.

With those returns, Alexandre Picard and Tom Pyatt were Montreal's scratches.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 6:46 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

We're underway

As expected, the ice has been an early talking point as the bitter cold has impacted the ability to maintain the ice at a proper temperature.

Earlier Sunday, Dan Craig and his ice crew decided that they would not take the Zamboni onto the ice surface for fears of further damaging the surface. So, the crew is shoveling the ice clear by hand and flooding it with a hose.

They are also patching holes on the ice during breaks to make the ice as good as possible, resulting in a few delays.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 6:32 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Pre-game festivities

The 2011 Tim Horton's NHL Heritage Classic is just about ready to start after a spectacular pre-game ceremony.
 
Both Thompson Square and paul Brandt handled the anthems flawlessy. Brandt, a Calgary boy, belted out O Canada while wearing a Flames Heritage Classic jersey.
 
The highlight, though, might have been a fly-over by the canadian Snow Birds.
 
Now, it is time to play. The game-time temperature is minus-11, but feels like minus-20 celsius because of a strong wind that will blow at the Flames back in the first period. Montreal will have the wind advantage in the second period and the teams will switch sides midway through the third period to even out the advantage.
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Posted On Saturday, 02.19.2011 / 11:25 AM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Iginla never worried about trade, missing Heritage

Earlier this season when it looked like the Flames had zero chance at a playoff spot, the talk began to center around the team potentially trading Jarome Iginla.

Iginla has a contract that runs through 2013, but if the Flames were looking to rebuild, they could get quite the haul for him. With that trade talk swirling around the Flames captain in December, it was possible Iginla wouldn't be wearing a Flames jersey when the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic rolled around in February.

Iginla said he heard the rumors, but he was never worried about not being part of this outdoor game.

"The possibilities of being traded or all the talk about blowing the team up, I'd be lying if I said I never, ever thought about that," Iginla said. "But no, it wasn't about this game. We were just focusing on our next game. To be honest, more than anything, it's just kind of crept up."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 9:09 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Cammalleri excited to return in time for Heritage

When Canadiens forward Mike Cammalleri fell into the boards following a check from Sabres defenseman Mike Weber in a Jan. 18 game and dislocated his left shoulder, it put playing in the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic in serious doubt.

Exactly one month later, Cammalleri took full part in Thursday's practice at the Scotiabank Saddledome. In his press conference afterward, coach Jacques Martin said he looked good and indicated he would likely be in the lineup Sunday when the Canadiens face the Flames at McMahon Stadium.

Cammalleri didn't want to give anything away when a reporter asked a question that anticipated he would play in the Heritage, asking, "Is it official?" After being told Martin expressed as much, Cammalleri responded, "Then good. Yeah, I'm playing."

He continued: "I'm really happy, first of all just to be back. It's been a while. But this weekend's a special weekend and I'm going to try to really take it all in, for sure. Very, very happy to be playing."

Cammalleri scored a career-high 39 goals in 2008-09, his only season playing in Calgary. He signed a five-year contract with Montreal on July 1, 2009, and finished with 26 goals and 50 points in his first season with the Canadiens. He has 13 goals and 31 points in 44 games this season.

"I had a really good time in Calgary. I was only here the one season but I seemed to make a lot of really good friends," Cammalleri said. "It's a special place for me and it feels great to be back. This morning we got in late [after playing in Edmonton on Thursday night], but I woke up well before my alarm to get around town and get back to some of the old digs. I went back to the old supermarket, picked up some stuff, the whole thing."
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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 8:52 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Dealing with cold a unique challenge for goaltenders

There's little doubt it will be cold late Sunday afternoon when the puck drops on the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at McMahon Stadium in Calgary -- the only question is how cold.

For most of the players, it won't be that big a deal. When they're out on the ice, skating in on a rush or attempting to defend against one by their opponents, the frigid temperatures get blocked out. And when they're sitting on the benches, well, at least those will be heated.

Miikka Kiprusoff and Carey Price, the respective starting goaltenders for the Flames and Canadiens, have neither of those luxuries. They expect to play all 60 minutes of the game and will spend the entire time -- save for maybe the TV timeouts -- in the confined area of their creases.

Is there anything a goaltender can do to prepare himself for a game like this?

"You just try to stay warm somehow," Kiprusoff said. "We have some pretty good underwear to wear under [the jersey] to keep you warm, too. But you don't want to put too much on, either."

The Flames and Canadiens practiced at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday but will take the ice at McMahon for the first time Saturday, which Price hopes will give him some sort of idea what to expect.

"I don't even know, I'm going to have to try to figure out something in practice tomorrow," he said. "Figure out the best type of underwear to wear … that's why we're going to practice outside tomorrow, try to figure some things out."

While skaters like David Moss and Mike Cammalleri, who played outdoors for the University of Michigan in the 2001 "Cold War" game against Michigan State, might be able to provide tips for the other forwards and defensemen, Price didn't expect to ask anyone who had past experience in an outdoor game for advice.

"It all depends … for goaltenders there is a difference. You could work up a sweat and then just sit for two, three, four minutes and not do anything," Price said.

Kiprusoff was asked if this is the type of game where he wouldn't mind a heavy workload, especially seeing some shots early to get himself warmed up and into the action.

"Every game you want to see some shots, but it's different because it's pretty cold," he said. "I hope it's not crazy cold because that makes it difficult, especially for goalies."
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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 8:23 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Canadiens react to Bruins' day of trades

All season long, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens have been the two teams battling it out for supremacy in the Northeast Division, so when the Bruins made a pair of big trades Friday, landing standout defenseman Tomas Kaberle from Toronto as well as forward Rich Peverley and defenseman Mark Stuart from Atlanta, the natural question became what, if anything, the Habs will do in response prior to the Feb. 28 trade deadline.

"If you look at it, there's a couple teams in the [Eastern] Conference that have tried to add and really bolster their lineups here in the last few weeks," Montreal forward Mike Cammalleri said. "Time tells. I say it all the time but that's how we play sports, that's why we drop the puck and play. We never know how things are going to unfold. Managers make these moves to try and strengthen their rosters, but we’ll see."

The Canadiens did make a significant roster move in the past several days, reacquiring defenseman Paul Mara from the Ducks. Their blue line has taken hit after hit this season, losing power-play quarterback Andrei Markov and emerging talent Josh Gorges to season-ending knee injuries. James Wisniewski, brought over from the Islanders in late December, is day-to-day after taking a puck to the face in Thursday's loss to the Oilers -- a gruesome-looking injury the team hopes doesn't involve any facial fractures.

"Paul's an experienced defenseman," coach Jacques Martin said. "We had Paul last year. Unfortunately he got injured three-quarters into the season and missed the last stretch of the season and the playoffs. But he's an individual that is well-received by his teammates, well-appreciated by his teammates, has got good size, brings a physical presence to our blue line and I think will help us in the stretch here."
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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 5:45 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Facing the Habs not a big deal to Tanguay

There were a lot of expectations when Alex Tanguay arrived in Montreal before the 2008-09 season.

The Flames traded Tanguay to the Canadiens in a draft-day deal in exchange for a first- and second-round pick after a disappointing pair of season in Calgary.

Things were going well for him with the Canadiens as he posted 16 goals and 25 assists in 50 games. But a separated shoulder cost him two months, and the Canadiens chose not to re-sign him after the season.

After spending one season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Tanguay rejoined the Flames this summer. But there's no extra incentive or added emotion facing the team that let him walk two seasons ago.

"It's been a couple years," Tanguay said. "I don't think there's too many guys who are there since I was there. To me, it's not going to be any different than any other game."

Sunday's game will be a rare chance for the Quebec native to play in the great outdoors.

"I never really played outside," Tanguay said. "We had covered ice in a dome. It was natural ice underneath the dome, but I didn't have to deal with the elements."
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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 4:37 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Playing outdoors nothing new for Moss

While there are plenty of NHL veterans still waiting to play in their first outdoor game, Calgary Flames forward David Moss will be skating in his third on Sunday.

The 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic completes a trifecta for the 29-year-old Moss, a five-year NHL veteran. Back in his collegiate days at the University of Michigan he was part of the famous "Cold War" game that began the outdoor hockey craze. Just last year, he was on the U.S. team that played Germany in the World Championship.

"They were both unique," Moss said. "The one in Michigan was special because it was a college atmosphere and it was a big rivalry. The one in Germany was a little bit different because I'd never seen fans that cheer the whole game like that, so it was pretty special, too."

The high temperature for Sunday is projected to be 29 degrees Fahrenheit and partly cloudy, although by the time the puck drops after 4 p.m. Mountain Time, it figures to be dropping closer toward the low of 8 degrees. Moss was asked if the players will be wearing extra clothing under their jerseys.

"I guess it depends on how cold it is. The first game I played at Michigan it was much colder than expected so I know guys had a little bit heavier stuff on underneath their equipment. I think it just depends on what the weather's like and what guys feel comfortable wearing," Moss said.

"I think most guys will change between periods. That's been my experience before, put something dry on and just go from there. Especially if you've been sitting around for a time, it gets cold."

There's also a 20 percent chance of precipitation for Sunday, so snow flurries aren't out of the question. Beyond that, issues like glare caused by the setting sun can be dealt with easily enough by the players, Moss said.

"The lighting and the sunlight, there's reflections, but there's way to deal with that, eye black and stuff like that," he said.

Moss scored a goal and added 3 assists in Calgary's 9-1 rout of Colorado on Monday and his line with Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross, dubbed the "OMG" line locally, has been on a tear of late.

"We've been fortunate to find the score sheet lately," Moss said. "Olli and Glennie are really playing some good hockey and Brent's kind of given us a role to play against other team's top lines. We've adjusted well to that."
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Posted On Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 7:24 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Dropkick Murphys bagpiper pulling for Flames

Scruffy Wallace of the Dropkick Murphys has been in Boston for almost a decade, adopting the ways of the parochial city that his band celebrates in so many of their songs.

While not quite as Boston yet as Bobby Orr, Fenway Park or Sam Adams, Wallace has become a part of the city, laying down pretty strong roots. He owns a house in one of Boston's many diverse neighborhoods and is part-owner of a local watering hole.

But, his heart still belongs to Calgary, the place his family settled after emigrating from Great Britain when he was just a child. In fact, the bagpipes he plays for the Murphys are adorned with the provincial flag of Alberta.

And, it is Calgary that will once again own his heart this Sunday when he will gather a group of friends to his home and tune into Versus to watch the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic between the Calgary Flames and the Montreal Canadiens at Calgary's McMahon Stadium.

"There's a big part at my house," Wallace Told NHL.com on Thursday, just minutes after the band finished rehearsal for an upcoming tour to celebrate the release of the band's latest disc, Going Out in Style, which debuts March 1. "I got my Flames jersey all ready to go. We'll have some steak tips and some beers and watch the game."

And, make no mistake, it will be a pro-Flames gathering.

"Hopefully the Flames will destroy the Canadiens," Wallace said. "I don't like the Canadiens."

Wallace's friends from Boston also don't like the Canadiens after years of the Montreal franchise wearing the black hats in The Hub. So, they could be some pretty loud cheers emanating from Wallace's neighborhood Sunday.

But, he knows it will be nothing like the noise that will engulf McMahon Stadium on Sunday.

"Calgary is such a great hockey town," says Wallace, who played goalie until he joined the military and took up rugby. "It's a really intense hockey town. That's why I could relate to Boston when I moved here."

Wallace would love to be in Calgary as his Flames and the Canadiens rekindled a rivalry that defined Wallace's time there. The teams met in the Stanley Cup Final in both 1986 and 1989. Montreal won the 1986 matchup, but the Flames gained revenge three years later in the final game of Calgary legend Lanny MacDonald's career.

Despite being from Great Britain originally, Wallace took to hockey immediately upon arriving in Calgary.

"In Canada, hockey is not a sport, it's a way of life," Wallace said. "You can't help but follow it."

But, now Wallace's new way of life -- playing the pipes in a rock band -- prohibits him from even entertaining the idea of going to Calgary for the game, which will be the biggest event in the city in quite some time.

The Dropkick Murphys are in the middle of intense rehearsals in preparation of a spring tour, which opens next week in Niagara Falls, N.Y., to support the Going out in Style disc. Her can't pull himself away from that -- not that he would want to.

"We're all really excited about this new record," Wallace said. "It's been long overdue."

Wallace also thinks the album shows some real growth by the band, without deviating too far afield from its Celtic punk roots.

Plus, Bruce Springsteen makers a cameo on the album, assuring that it will be a worthwhile listen.

"You're talking about Bruce Springsteen here," Wallace said. "He was gracious  to sing some songs for us and we are pleased as punch with the results."
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Posted On Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 6:03 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Heritage Classic a hit with sponsors

CALGARY -- It appears that the Heritage Classic is a hit -- even before the game is played.

NHL Executive Vice President of Marketing Brian Jennings said Thursday the sponsorship revenue for the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic has exceeded the sponsorship revenue for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

Jennings didn't reveal the dollar figures, but said the excitement shown by Canadian sponsors such as Tim Hortons and Canadian Tire for an outdoor game in Canada has made the difference.

"We were probably long overdue to get back on Canadian soil," Jennings said. "I think our corporate partners recognize the power of the brands. For us, we were overwhelmed at the support from the sponsorship perspective. There's a lot of ways we measure success from this, and certainly revenues are a part of it."

About 22,000 Heritage Classic jerseys of both the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens have been sold thus far, Jennings said. Sales have favored the host team so far, with about 16,000 Flames jerseys having already flown off the shelves.

But a major concern for Jennings is the sale of counterfeit jerseys. He said not only are fans purchasing an inferior product, but they could also be helping people engage in illegal activities.

"I think we've seen a heightened increase of counterfeiting," Jennings said. "I think there's a lot of things that fans can do. Some of the dollars that get generated from counterfeit jerseys find their way back to terrorist-type activities. It's a big business, and not just from a hockey perspective but hockey in general. It's intellectual property, which is (a) main part of our collateral. It's a key element for us to protect, and we are quite vigilant in the marketplace for doing so."

Jennings also announced the NHL, the Calgary Flames and Hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine and his Companions in Courage charity has plans to donate a state-of-the-art "NHL Legacy Classroom" at Alberta Children's Hospital. The classroom is expected to be operational by April 2011.

The classroom will feature Cisco System's online conferencing system WebEx, which allows young patients to connect to family, friends, schools and teachers anywhere in the world during a hospital stay.

"The Alberta Children's Hospital is a Southern Alberta jewel providing unparalleled care for all young people in need of its services," said Flames President & CEO Ken King. "The Calgary Flames organization is proud to partner with the NHL in the creation of this unique legacy."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.16.2011 / 4:30 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Heritage Classic merchandise available Thursday

Fans will be able to purchase Heritage Classic merchandise at Spectator Plaza outside McMahon Stadium starting Thursday.

The Official NHL Heritage Classic Merchandise Store will carry jerseys, headwear, souvenirs, gifts and novelty items and apparel, including women’s and children’s wear throughout the weekend. The retail location will be open to the public from noon-7 p.m. on Feb. 17; from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Feb. 18; from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. on Feb. 19 and Feb. 20; and from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Feb. 21.

Retailers Canadian Tire, Champs Sports, Flames FanAttic, Hockey Experts, Jersey City Canada and Sport Chek have stocked the shelves of their Calgary stores with official NHL Heritage Classic merchandise. In addition, Adrenalin & Tuxedo Sports, Game On Sports, Premier Sports, Pro Hockey Life, Rexall Drug Stores, and Shoppers Drug Mart also are showcasing official NHL Heritage Classic gifts and novelty items in Calgary area locations.

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.16.2011 / 4:11 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Flames talk Heritage atmosphere

On the one hand, the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic will be the same as any other game out of 82 on the regular-season schedule in that the winner receives two points.

Otherwise, it's hard to compare playing inside a dome in front of around 20,000 fans to skating under the late afternoon and night sky, dealing with the elements with double that number of screaming bodies in the stands of what normally serves as a Canadian Football League stadium.

"Obviously it's going to be quite different, I'm sure," forward Niklas Hagman said. "I haven't played an outdoor game yet. The crowd is so much further away. It is great, but for sure it's going to be different. And it's going to be different for [Montreal], too, we've just got to make sure we're more ready and get the two points."

Forward Tim Jackman talked about inviting his parents out for the game and how he was happy Calgary's recent hot stretch has made for a better storyline to the Heritage.

"Things worked out that we're in a playoff hunt and it's going to be a more exciting game than if we would have kept playing the way we were playing early in the season," Jackman said.

There's also the opponent to consider. What better team to play in a game of this magnitude than the Canadiens, an Original Six team with one of the most storied histories in professional sports, one that includes an NHL-record 24 Stanley Cup championships.

"I think it's going to be a great atmosphere," defenseman Mark Giordano said. "It seems like any time you play Montreal or Toronto, one of those teams, there's an extra buzz in the crowd. So I think it'll be an exciting game. There's going to be a lot of fans, I think, from both sides. It's going to be an important game."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.16.2011 / 3:31 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Flames ready for whatever the weather

The city of Calgary woke Wednesday morning to temperatures in the single digits Fahrenheit and a light, but persistent snow falling.
 
It was a marked contrast to the previous day, when the mercury got up into the mid-40s and provided almost balmy conditions for the work crews preparing the rink at McMahon Stadium for Sunday's 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic.
 
Currently, the forecast for game day calls for a temperature of 31 degrees (-1 Celsius) and partly cloudy skies, but the players know anything could happen between now and then and are bracing themselves for any kind of weather.
 
"You can't predict it -- every day it seems like the forecast is changing," defenseman Mark Giordano said. "I was watching a little bit about that Edmonton game [the 2003 Heritage Classic, when the temperature was -22 Fahrenheit], the guys were talking about it the other day. It was cold, but they got through it. I'm sure we'll be fine, once we get into the game."
 
The inaugural Winter Classic, held on New Year's Day in 2008 between the Sabres and Penguins, saw snow fall at Ralph Wilson Stadium, providing for a picturesque backdrop to a thrilling game won by Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby in a shootout.
 
All the same, Flames captain Jarome Iginla said snow would not be part of his ideal forecast for the Heritage Classic.
 
"I'd rather not a day like today," Iginla said with a laugh. "In a perfect world, plus-2 or 3 (Celsius), sunny ..."
 
A reporter interjected wouldn't the sun get in the players' eyes?
 
"We have tinted visors," Iginla said, noting that with a 4 p.m. Mountain Time start, the sun probably wouldn't be a factor beyond the first period.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.15.2011 / 4:21 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Otto likes what he sees with red-hot Flames

Joel Otto knows a thing or two about quality Calgary Flames teams. He was a member of the franchise's only Stanley Cup championship in 1989 and was a rookie when the Flames reached the Cup Final in 1986.

Otto is now an assistant coach for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL, who will be apart of the 2011 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic festivities when the Hitmen host the Regina Pats on Monday at McMahon Stadium. But spending a lot of time in Calgary has allowed to see first-hand the turnaround of the Flames.

The Flames were left for dead in late December after GM Darryl Sutter was fired with the team holding a 16-18-3 record. But the Flames are 13-4-5 since Jay Feaster took over and have climbed into the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference.

"I've seen a few games. Me along with the rest of the city is excited they’re playing better for sure," Otto said. "They seem to be playing for each other. Certainly confidence, once you get on a roll, you're feeling good about yourself and confident with each other, little things seem easier to do."

The Flames will carry a 9-1-2 record in their last 12 games into Wednesday's showdown with the Dallas Stars, but Otto doesn't think it's fair to scapegoat Sutter and heap all the praise on Feaster for the Flames' resurgence.

"I think it's unfair to blame Darryl for this turnaround," Otto said. "Whether Jay has come in with a different attitude, that certainly helps. But as you watch on the outside, I don't know what goes on on the inside there, they seem to be enjoying each other."

Otto's main concern is making sure the Hitmen, who are in last place in the Central Division at 17-35-2-2, are focused on their current three-game road swing and not looking ahead to what will certainly be a special game at McMahon Stadium.

"I think there's been a little bit of buzz," Otto said. "We had our team pictures last week in the jerseys we're going to wear. There's been talk about what they'll have to wear underneath. I think with the road trip we had some big games. We're fighting for points and trying to get in the playoffs and we kind of put ourselves in a hole. Our focus has been more on that than the game itself. I'm sure once they get back, they'll be pretty pumped and excited to be apart of this weekend."


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Quote of the Day

Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.

— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals