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Flames looking forward to split-squad action

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

It was way too long of a summer. All the training, all those practices, finally you can play an NHL exhibition game. I think that both teams will be ready to go and on our part, the evaluation process just keeps ramping up. Bob Hartley

CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames can only play the Calgary Flames so much.

That’s why forward Kenny Agostino is excited to kick off the preseason with some split-squad action against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.

“With the chippiness going on today (in camp), I think a lot of guys are on the edge and a lot of guys like to play on the edge,” Agostino said. “It’s kind of hard when you’re playing your teammates. It’s going to be good to let it all hang out against Edmonton.”

Camp became increasingly physical in the second day of on-ice sessions. After four scrimmages amongst three teams, a bout of cabin fever appeared to be settling in.

Split-squad games with the Oilers, happening simultaneously in Calgary and Edmonton with identical 6 p.m. MST puck drops will help cure that.

Not that there needs to be any added incentive to suit up for some preseason play, coach Bob Hartley pointed out.

“I don’t think that we should have to motivate anyone to play the first exhibition game,” Hartley said. “It was way too long of a summer. All the training, all those practices, finally you can play an NHL exhibition game. I think that both teams will be ready to go and on our part, the evaluation process just keeps ramping up.

"Starting from development camp in the summer to rookie camp in Penticton to the last two days, we’re evaluating those guys on a day-to-day basis. [Sunday], the test will get bigger and bigger.”

Those traveling to Edmonton and those remaining in Calgary have yet to be determined.

While some, like rookie Sam Bennett and veteran Mikael Backlund, are already on the mend and ruled out from Sunday’s contests, Flames general manager Brad Treliving is taking a wait-and-see approach to who he will have at his disposal before dispatching rosters.

“We’re going to go back and check with the trainers and see how we got through it health-wise and have everything finalized for [Sunday],” Treliving said. “The biggest thing with these split-squads is that there are a lot of bodies, so you’re still very early in camp, we’re still going through an evaluation.

“We’re going to get as many people into the games [Sunday]. We have regulations in terms of veteran limits and all that. We’ll just get a headcount and see what the health is and then we’ll finalize.”

While Treliving’s decision is still pending, he’s already made up his mind on one aspect of the rosters -- those attending the game at Scotiabank Saddledome will be treated to a marquee lineup.

And in doing so, Treliving has fans of the Flames in mind.

“We do,” he said. “We want to make sure our fans are seeing our guys and the good news is, we have a lot of games.

“We’ll have some of the more headline guys here at home.”

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