Goaltender Reto Berra will make his Scotiabank Saddledome debut when the Calgary Flames host the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old said getting three games in on Calgary’s most recent road trip has helped him prepare for what to expect on home ice.
“It’s a really big step in my career to play in the Saddledome -- a real game, not just an exhibition game,” said Berra, who started a pre-season game on home ice against the Phoenix Coyotes in September. “I’m really excited and happy I can play. My goal is to try to just play my best and give the team a chance to win.”
In his three starts last week -- his first taste of National Hockey League action -- Berra went 1-2-0 with a 3.33 goals against average and .895 save percentage.
The more he plays, the more comfortable Berra says he feels as he continues to adjust his game to North American-sized ice.
“Like always for a goalie, playing is the best practice,” he said. “I definitely feel better after the three games than I felt before.”
STEMPNIAK POSSIBLE FOR SHARKS
Pending medical clearance, Lee Stempniak could make his return to ‘Dome ice against the Sharks.
For a second straight day, Stempniak participated in full practice with teammates and could be cleared in time to tackle San Jose.
“I feel good out there, I just don’t know,” he said. “I need to talk to doctors and coaches obviously need to make a decision. I’m just taking it day-to-day right now. I feel pretty good out there but a lot of it is waking up and seeing how it is the next morning.
“I’ll talk to the medical staff after and talk to the coaches and ultimately make the decision.”
With nine points in 10 games this season, a Stempniak return would provide an immediate offensive boost. What he brings to the club goes well beyond point production, though.
“Whenever you can get a [Mark] Giordano, a Stempniak or any injured guys back, it’s always good plus not only for their contribution on the ice but also what they mean to the hockey club,” coach Bob Hartley said. “I think we all know with his experience, with his leadership, he’s a big part of us.”
Tuesday’s game against the Sharks will mark the second time the two teams have met this season.
The first didn’t quite go Calgary’s way.
The Sharks scored three times with the man advantage en route to doubling up the Flames 6-3 on October 19th. In all, Calgary served up nine power play opportunities to San Jose.
“What we have to remember from that game is that we were very undisciplined,” Hartley said. “That’s the game by far we were the most undisciplined and when you put the Marleau’s, the Thornton’s and all those great guys on the power play, you’re looking for trouble and we found it.”
“[Smid] came as advertised and maybe even more. We can tell that he is really happy to be here. We sat with him every morning so far, doing some video, trying to get him in the team system as quickly as we can and we know it’s going to take time like any new guy, but he has that willingness to jump in right away and to be a big factor. I think that’s very positive.”
Starting with San Jose on Tuesday (7 p.m. MT, SNET-W), the Flames will play six of the next seven games at Scotiabank Saddledome.