Notes, quotes and anecdotes from Tuesday's morning practice at the Pengrowth Saddledome...
Flames anticipate final stretch
The Calgary Flames participated in a late afternoon practice Monday followed by fitness testing, but were recharged and ready to get back to business Tuesday following a five-day hiatus during the NHL All-Star break.
With just over two months remaining in the regular season, the Flames know they're going to have to fight in order to stay in the race for the playoffs come mid April.
"We look at ourselves, and we want to be in the hunt for the division and these games are going to go quick," said captain Jarome Iginla, who just recently participated along side Dion Phaneuf in the All-Star Game.
"I find this the most fun time of the regular season, and I look forward to it."
But it won't be all fun and games for the Flames' squad. With only 14 home and 18 away games remaining, the shift towards an intense finish will heat up both in the locker room and on the ice.
"It's a long sprint. You can't look at it as an entire 32 games," added defenceman Robyn Regehr.
"You have to have little goals along the way, and we do that with segments we look at so we know whether we're on target or not for the season."
Fellow blueliner Rhett Warrener sees the final stretch a bit differently.
"They're plenty of games left, so I don't think we want to get stuck looking at the standings just yet," commented Warrener.
Refueled and ready to go
Everyone knows taking some down time can really benefit an individual in the long run -- the Flames are no exception.
With an added couple of days off, the Flames took advantage of their time away from the rink. Some left to warmer climates, some spent time with families, while others skipped off to the mountains to enjoy the good old outdoors. Whatever their preference, the time was needed and well deserved.
"We should have lots of energy; we had a fantastic break," said Regehr.
"We're a team who played a lot of games going into that stretch and now everyone's pretty much caught up to us, so we can look forward to the last 32 games and the big push towards the playoffs."
Phaneuf agrees, even though the 22-year-old didn't have time off with his involvement in the NHL's All-Star Competition this past weekend, he knows the team needed the break.
"It was good that we did have that break to get rested and recharged because it's a big stretch, and it's going to fly by," said Phaneuf.
"It's a big push for our team, and we need to use this rest to our advantage and get some big wins."
Now everything is about to change.
"It's so tight in our conference and the league itself, every game is a big game," added Flames' head coach Mike Keenan.
"This team has done well, they're up in the standings and have some important opportunities this week with two teams coming in, San Jose and Dallas."
Lalande named ECHL goalie of the week
Las Vegas rookie Kevin Lalande is the Rbk Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Week for Jan.21-27.
The Kingston, Ontario native was 2-0-0 with a shutout, a 0.50 goals-against average and a .982 save percentage as the Wranglers went 3-0-0 for the week to improve to 27-8-7 and increase their lead in the National Conference.
The 6-foot and 180-pound Lalande registered his second shutout of the season when he stopped all 32 shots in a 1-0 win at Utah on Jan. 25 and the following night at home against the Grizzlies he turned aside 23-of-24 shots in a 4-1 win.
The 20 year old is 8-2-2 and has allowed one goal or less in nine of his 12 starts with the Wranglers. He is tied for third in the ECHL with two shutouts and he would lead the league in goals-against average (1.49) and save percentage (.946) if he had the minimum number of minutes played.
Selected in the fifth round (128th overall) by Calgary in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and under NHL contract to the Flames, Lalonde has also played in the American Hockey League where he is 2-3-0 with a goals-against average of 3.34 and a save percentage of .888 in seven games with Quad City.
He made his ECHL debut on Nov. 25 and stopped all 18 shots for his first professional shutout in a 4-0 win against Phoenix. He won his next three starts before losing 2-1 in a shootout to Idaho on Dec. 1. He improved to 6-0-2 before suffering his first loss in regulation, 3-1 against Victoria on Jan. 12.
Lalande played four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League where he was 67-46-12 with seven shutouts, a goals-against average of 3.01 and a save percentage of .916 in 131 games for Belleville from 2003-07.