Mike Cammalleri is primed to return to the Calgary Flames lineup.
After missing eight straight games due to a concussion, the 31-year-old will be back in the lineup Thursday in time to tackle the San Jose Sharks.
“I’m excited to play,” Cammalleri said. “It’s something I really love to do. I’m just excited to get back with the boys here. The guys are playing well. It’s fun to be a part of it. It’s been fun watching the guys do well.”
His return will force coach Bob Hartley to tinker with a lineup that has won three straight at Scotiabank Saddledome.
“It’s always the part that’s unknown, a new guy coming in,” said Hartley, who is expected to try Cammalleri with Sean Monahan and TJ Galiardi. “You don’t know what the impact is going to be. But the one thing about Cammy is he works unbelievably hard. He’s free, he’s good, he skated well, he took care of himself in the gym. There’s no doubt in my mind that Cammy will give us a big game.”
Cammalleri, who also missed seven games to start the season with an upper body injury, has 13 goals and 21 points in 37 games.
BACK TO CENTRE
With Cammalleri back in the lineup, Joe Colborne is expected to slide back between Brian McGrattan and Kevin Westgarth. He had previously been skating on the right wing with Monahan and Galiardi.
That audition taught the 23-year-old a bit about being back down the middle.
“I learned there’s a lot more skating at centre,” he said. “It’s a good experience and the more versatile you can become as a player the more valuable you can be. It’s good the coaches can trust me to throw me back on the wing if injuries creep up again if needed but I’m excited to get back to where I’ve played for a long time and get back into the faceoff circle.”
Though Hartley has been forced to pull his goaltender in back-to-back games, the Flames have still managed to come away with four points.
Starter Karri Ramo didn’t finish the game, but Calgary still took a 5-4 shootout win over the Nashville Predators on Friday. They earned a 5-4 overtime decision over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday despite pulling Reto Berra after 40 minutes.
“There have been so many times where we haven’t supported our goalies enough,” Colborne said. “It’s nice to return the favor a little bit and get them some goal support.”
Hartley credited his veterans with keeping his club mentally tough during the stretch.
“IT goes to our leaders,” he said. “The Gios and Staj, David Jones, Stempy, Cammy, all those great guys. They’re doing an unbelievable job. At the NHL-level, the dressing room belongs to the players. That’s where if you have good individuals and good leaders, you’re going to get hard work every day.”
“It’s the feel-good attitude. It’s the feel you’re accomplishing something and getting a result. It’s a much easier sell for me and the players’ confidence. That what I’m doing is working. They get in their car and go back home and they’re just like the fans. They feel good. We’re all the same. This is part of this business. This is a business of winning and the more we cultivate winning, I think we’re going to fast-forward our progression. That’s the biggest thing I have in mind --- I’m trying to find ways to fast-forward the progression.”
The Flames continue with their fourth straight on home ice when they welcome the San Jose Sharks on Thursday (7 p.m. MST, SNET-W, Sportsnet 960 The Fan).