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Cammalleri shuffles over to center ice

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames sick bay has hosted a wealth of bodies over the course of the season and Mikael Backlund will be joining the likes of Lee Stempniak, Blair Jones, Curtis Glencross Derek Smith and David Moss on the proverbial shelf.

Backlund, who suffered an upper body injury in Saturday's 3-2 SO victory over the Vancouver Canucks, is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. In response, head coach Brent Sutter has moved forward Mike Cammalleri from the left wing to center ice.

"It's his natural position," Sutter said on Monday morning. "It's what he used to play. He's actually excited about it. It was something he brought to me a couple of days ago - if something happens, if we need somewhere there, he will certainly play. I'm very comfortable with that."

Cammalleri has been on the wing for the vast majority of his professional career but did play center during his time with the Manchester Monarchs during the lockout. He also spent some time at center ice with the Los Angeles Kings but only for a short period of time.

"When I got to LA, the center position was taken," he explained. "Until then, I played center my whole life."

Given his familiarity with the position, Cammalleri doesn't think the move will radically alter his game. He intends on maintaining his style of play in his new role and will make some small tweaks as the game progresses.

"Your skating patterns and sight lines just change a little bit. An adjustment maybe."

The Richmond Hill, ON native was placed in between Tom Kostopoulos and Blake Comeau at practice. He stressed the importance of getting used to each other over the next couple days because while he has been playing with Comeau recently, he has yet to play a game with Kostopoulos on his line this season.

"I think it's important that identify each other's strengths and try to aid in that."

With teammates going down so frequently, one may assume the frustration level within the locker room is high but Cammalleri dispelled that notion quickly, noting it wasn't productive in the least.

"It doesn't do ourselves to concern ourselves with that. Just keep moving forward. Whoever dresses we know is capable of getting us victories. That's the mindset."

NOTE: Olli Jokinen did not take part in Super Skills on Sunday and was absent from practice on Monday. Sutter opted to keep Jokinen off the ice for maintenance: "He's a little sore and stuff and I just felt that it would be good for him to have the extra day. He'll be ready to go tomorrow."

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