Fresh from the Abbotsford Heat, Blair Jones didn’t skip a beat.
Recalled to the Calgary Flames from the American Hockey League on Thursday, Jones picked up where he left off, scoring against the Florida Panthers on Friday.
“Definitely a monkey off my back and a weight off the shoulders early,” said Jones, who has a team-best 20 points with the Heat. “It’s always a nice feeling so I was glad to see that go in.”
Jones chipped in more than just a goal in his return, though.
Coach Bob Hartley used the 27-year-old in a variety of situations, including on the penalty kill and in the faceoff circle despite spending the game on the wing.
In all, Jones saw 12:38 of ice time, including 1:47 with the Flames shorthanded.
“You look at his ice time, ice time usually reflects how a coaching staff things of a player’s performance,” Hartley said. “He was great. He was to a point that I threw him late in the game, big faceoff in our zone on the right side. That’s what he can bring to us. He gave us a goal, gave us some bodychecks and had good jump. I’m very pleased with his first game.”
Hartley was satisfied enough with what he saw to try him in the third round of the shootout.
Jones missed, but that didn’t diminish his body of work.
“It’s fun to get out there in a lot of different situations and be relied upon for certain things,” Jones said. “I’m happy with how things went and I’m going to build off it and keep getting better every day.”
Jones’ third period goal was in line to be the winner after a gaff from goaltender Reto Berra.
Venturing out of his net to clear a puck, Berra poked the puck right onto the stick of Jimmy Hayes, who buried it into the vacated net to cut Calgary’s lead to 3-2.
“I’m sure that there was hesitation, ‘Do I go, do I not go, do I go?’ and finally he went and in a play like this, you need to clear the blue line, you need to get the puck,” Hartley said. “Once you hit it and especially once you dive and poke check, you’re making yourself very vulnerable because you’re in no position to recover.”
Berra didn’t, and Hayes notched his first of the season to kickstart Florida’s comeback that eventually resulted in some shootout heroics from he and Sean Monahan.
“(It’s) a little bit of lack of experience on this,” Hartley said. “He’s a rookie. He’s 26. He’s a rookie. He’s still learning this game but he offers many great things.”
Berra recovered in the shootout, denying Hayes after Monahan's marker to net the Flames two points.
GIORDANO, GLENCROSS MAKING PROGRESS
Captain Mark Giordano has missed the past 14 games with an ankle injury. Curtis Glencross has been out for seven straight as he battles a lower body injury.
Both, however, are making progress.
“They’re doing good,” Hartley said. “Gio is doing much better. He’s going to get re-evaluated at some point next week. He’s in the gym every day and quite hard. I’m hopeful. I’m very hopeful.”
Glencross hasn’t been able to hit the gym quite as hard just yet.
“He’s in the gym but still kind of limited,” Hartley said. “It’s just me telling you this based on what I see and when I sit with the medical staff. I think Gio’s closer than Glennie to come back.”
“I felt that his game really picked up after that goal. Especially for a kid like Sven, he’s an offensive guy so when you don’t score, you don’t bring much to the table. He scored and suddenly he started to skate better. I felt he could’ve ended up with three goals.”
-Hartley on Sven Baertschi
The Flames don’t return to game action until Wednesday, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks at Scotiabank Saddledome (8 p.m. MT, TSN).