WINNIPEG, MB -- Bob Hartley hoped his lineup in Winnipeg would be a good reflection of the roster he ices next Wednesday when the Calgary Flames open the 2014-15 season against the Vancouver Canucks.
As it turns out, that isn't the case.
"For tonight – with all of the injuries – my hope was to put the four lines and six [defenceman] that would start game one against Vancouver but we’re very far from this," head coach Bob Hartley said. "This morning it was kind of like running a hockey camp with so many bodies.
"But that’s our situation based on the nagging injuries that we have. You have all of those young bucks that came to camp and created such an impact, we have to be honest. It’s going to be tough to make decisions."
Right now, the Flames have 30 players remaining in training camp.
Tonight, they have three veterans (Mikael Backlund, Mason Raymond, and David Jones) returning after spending time in the sick bay. They also have several young players making a case to stay in Calgary and a few of them will be in the lineup tonight.
Getting their roster down to 23 players will be a challenge but Hartley is embracing the situation, noting how positive it is to see so many players have an impact in camp.
"We have way too many actors for those few roles. That's the beauty of our problem," Hartley stated.
Another factor the team must consider is Sam Bennett. The Flames 2014 first round pick has been impressive in pre-season games but has suffered from nagging, minor injuries throughout camp.
He won't play tonight in Winnipeg but Hartley didn't rule him out as a candidate for the opening day roster.
"The evaluation process was going on for him and if he is still with us he has a chance, that’s for sure.
"Players are not stupid. We’re tell them if you play well then you’re going to deserve to stay and if you don’t play well then maybe that’s a sign that you’re not quite ready. If he’s still with us it’s because we still believe in him and everything but right now let’s wait and see. The doctors will do their work and we’ll come up with a plan after."
While Hartley didn't give a date for the next set of cuts, he did note that management would meet on Sunday to go over
"Tomorrow, we’re going to meet as a staff and we’re going to digest tonight’s game," Hartley said. "We’re going to go back to all of our notes and like I told you guys we’ve been ranking these guys on a daily basis. Tonight it’s the final test for basically all of them."