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GILLIES EXPECTED TO MAKE NHL DEBUT THIS WEEK

The netminder could get the start in LA or San Jose

by TORIE PETERSON @ToriePeterson / CalgaryFlames.com

LOS ANGELES, CA -- Jon Gillies' first NHL recall didn't carry the same excitment that most do.

Summoned from Stockton on Mar. 18, he was brought in as an emergency recall when Brian Elliott fell ill with the flu and was unable to back up Chad Johnson.

The chances of him seeing in a game were slim, at best.

But now, just a few short weeks later, he will likely be taking another step in his career and making his NHL debut.

"If I was a betting guy, I'd say Jon will go one of these two games here," head coach Glen Gulutzan stated.

On Tuesday, just a few minutes into the Flames' tilt with the Anaheim Ducks, Chad Johnson suffered a lower body injury that would halt his road trip. He has been sent back to Calgary for further evaluation, meaning Gillies is with the team for the remainder of the week.

With Elliott not getting the rest the coaching staff had intended him to on Tuesday, bringing Gillies in on Thursday in LA or on Saturday in San Jose will give Elliott a well-deserved break.

"We'll just figure that out with Ells' as we go. Just with Johnny going down, we're certainly going to be monitoring that situation," Gulutzan explained.

Looking back on the past year, Gillies couldn't help but to reflect on how different his world is today. A challenging 2015-16 season - both on and off the ice - has passed and he's ready to embrace the latest chapter in his career.

"It will be pretty neat. I mean, it's funny how much you change in a year," he said. "This time last year, I had been off the ice for almost five and a half, six months and I had been through some pretty tough stuff off the ice, away from the rink.

"I think if it happens, it will be a lot of fun and it will be a nice achievement. But at the end of the day, you're just trying to get two points. It's same hockey game so that's how you approach it."

Gillies is known for his poised, laid back demeanour and Gulutzan has no concerns about the young goaltender getting overwhelmed ahead of his NHL debut.

"He's got a great personality. Especially when you think of goalies, he's real quiet, reserved, very calm. Those are good qualities for a goalie," Gulutzan explained.

"We'll go through a little bit of the pre-scout, some of the subtleties on the penalty kill that we have our goalie involved in and the puck play that they do … basically the same thing in Stockton. Other than that, we don't want to overwhelm him.

"We want him to play, to relax and enjoy it. I mean, your first NHL game, you want him - especially a goaltender - just to be focused on the game and not all the noise."

When asked about his mindset heading into the next two games, Gillies admitted he was more excited for his family and friends, who will make the trek out to California if he's given word that he will get a start this week.

"My mom definitely freaks out a lot," he chuckled. "And I have two or three of my best buddies that I grew up with at home, that have kind of been there through everything, are on stand-by.

"I think that I'm pretty lucky to have such a special group of people, a core group of people around that have supported me since day one. I think that it will be pretty special for them if it happens.

"It will be a pretty cool day for my family. They've sacrificed a lot to get me to where I am so I think that will be the most special for me."

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