It’s about playing our own game, being aware of who’s on the ice and I think that our players deserve lots of credit for this. We’re always kind of prepared for who we’re going to face. - Bob Hartley
CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames were able to contain Steven Stamkos in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. They’ll try to do the same with another Eastern Conference threat Saturday.
The Flames will play host to Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, another tough challenge as they seek a second straight win at Scotiabank Saddledome.
“With Ovechkin, you can shadow him for 58 minutes and he can still find a way to beat you,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “It’s about playing our own game, being aware of who’s on the ice and I think that our players deserve lots of credit for this. We’re always kind of prepared for who we’re going to face. They do a good job of who’s on the ice and what to watch for. It’s going to be a good challenge.”
Ovechkin has five goals and six points in six games this season but is coming off a blanking at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers, his second straight game without a point.
Hartley believes he knows the best way to push Ovechkin to a third.
“The best to contain him is body position,” he said. “You try to be physical with him, you better be in the gym for a few weeks before because he’s strong, he’s solid, he’s going to make you pay. It’s not how much your physical. Usually big-time scorers, you get physical with them and they disappear. When you get physical with him, you wake him up and get him going.”
RAMO UP IN ROTATION
It’ll be Karri Ramo who will be tasked with keeping Ovechkin and the Capitals at bay Saturday. He and Jonas Hiller have rotated every start this season, a routine that Hartley said isn’t about to change anytime soon.
In fact, Hartley isn’t sure what it’ll take to move from the one-off system he’s used through the first month of the season.
“I didn’t even ask that question yet to myself,” he said. “I hope that we’re in May and June and you guys still talk to me about my rotation.”
Ramo is 2-1-1 this season with a 2.20 goals against average and .917 save percentage. Hiller has put together a 3-2-0 record with a 1.78 goals against average and .948 save percentage. He’s also coming off a shutout in Calgary’s 5-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.
It hasn’t been hard to root for Hiller either, Ramo admitted.
“It is pretty easy,” he said. “They’re important games. It makes everybody’s job easier when the team is winning. It’s pretty easy to root for the other guy.”
Getting used to the rotation hasn’t been difficult for the 28-year-old either.
“It’s the same way if I would be playing every game, one day at a time,” Ramo said. “You can’t really think too much. You have to focus on the next puck, whether it’s in a practice or in a game. It doesn’t change if you play every second game or if you play one out of five or one out of 10. It’s the same approach every day.”
WIDES ON TARGET
With his first period goal to open the scoring against Carolina on Thursday, Dennis Wideman extended his goal-scoring streak to three games. He’s also recorded four in his last five, too.
“You kind of get streaks where you throw three or four together in a short span and then you can go a while without getting a goal,” Wideman said. “Hopefully I can keep scoring and keep contributing to the team, but obviously this pace isn’t going to keep up.”
That pace has the 31-year-old sitting atop the NHL in goals by a defenceman with four. Fellow Flames blueliner TJ Brodie is in an eight-way tie for second with three.
He's already matched his goal total from last year, too, after scoring four goals in 46 games.
“Obviously it feels good when things are going in for you,” said Wideman, who currently sits 12th in scoring amongst all rearguards with five points. “You just want to ride that as long as you can. I’ve also been on the other side where it’s been two months since I’ve scored and you’re like ‘Oh my god, nothing will go in for me’. It’s just one of those things.”
Hartley knows Wideman is feeling it on the ice.
“Wides, you look at him, the way he’s practicing. It’s the same way that he plays,” Hartley said. “He’s a great guy. It’s just a matter to find the right gear for him and right now he’s got it. Leave him alone and just let him play.”
The Flames host Washington at Scotibank Saddledome on Saturday. The two split the season series a year ago, with each team winning on home ice. The game will be broadcast on CBC (TV) and SN960 (radio) starting at 8 p.m. MST.