The writing’s on the wall. Those guys have been at training camp since they started to play hockey so they understand the logistics. Every day goes by, you have to make decisions. - Bob Hartley
CALGARY, AB -- It’s getting down to crunch time for Calgary Flames hopefuls.
Tuesday’s tilt against the Colorado Avalanche at Scotiabank Saddledome marks just one of three remaining games in the pre-season for the Flames and quality, eye-catching performances are at a premium, coach Bob Hartley admitted.
“The writing’s on the wall,” he said. “Those guys have been at training camp since they started to play hockey so they understand the logistics. Every day goes by, you have to make decisions. Now with three games to go, now we still have lots of players in the lineup. We’ll make some tough decisions but tonight’s a big game for many of them.”
The Flames have 40 players remaining in camp by way of three goaltenders, 14 defencemen and 23 forwards. But Calgary needs to trim to 23 by Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 5 p.m. ET, meaning the next few days will largely dictate who starts the season in Flames silks the following day.
“They have to sort of look at every day like it could be their last opportunity to make a good impression,” captain Mark Giordano said. “I think they’ve done a good job. I think most of our young guys have been really good throughout camp.
"Everyone knows we have 40 guys on our roster still. We have to get down. Tonight’s another opportunity. We have a lot of young guys in the lineup tonight. If they can make another good impression, they can hopefully stick around.”
Those on the bubble will need to make the most of fewer opportunities.
Hartley declared that some already have. Others, he admitted, not so much.
“Early on, we were looking to invest and even if a young player has a bad day, we’re going to keep him for four or five days, lots of time, we’re going to give him one or two games,” Hartley said. “This time, the day that you separate is maybe the day that you’re going down.”
FERLAND STEPPING UP
Michael Ferland found a way to separate himself in a positive way. The 22-year-old scored both goals in Calgary’s 2-1 victory against the Avalanche on Sunday. It didn’t go unnoticed by Hartley.
“[Ferland] has made quite an impact on everyone,” he said. “He worked unbelievably hard this summer coming back from the knee surgery. He’s great. He’s fearless. He’s going to the net like a tank. He gave us two big goals, but the evaluation process keeps going.”
Ferland is well aware he’s still being evaluated.
That’s why he hopes to replicate his first star performance in Denver tonight against Colorado.
“Obviously being closer now, it’s starting to get a little more exciting," Ferland said. "I just hopefully stick around.”
“There’s still a lot of work to do and I just got to take it a game at a time. I want to go out there and have a good start and have a lot of jump and hopefully have a good game.
“I’m feeling really good right now and feeling confident out there. I just feel good and I just hopefully want to keep it going tonight and have fun.
HILLER FOR 60
For the first time this pre-season, Jonas Hiller will carry the load and play a full 60 minutes Tuesday against the Avalanche. It’s an opportunity the 32-year-old admits he’s been waiting for.
“It’s nice to kind of get there step-by-step,” he said. “Practices and games are two different pairs of shoes. I definitely feel ready. I’m kind of excited to play a full game and also I think most teams have made their first cuts, so it comes close to what the actual team is going to be like. Those games are going to be a little more intense. All teams pick up on their games. It’s definitely going to be more intense than last game.”
Hiller has played parts of two games and has racked up a 1.50 goals against average and .900 save percentage in 80 minutes of work.
While he hasn’t played much, the native of Felben Wellhausen, CHE admits he is getting more comfortable with his new teammates.
“Especially on the ice, it still takes some time to know what the guys in front of you are going to do and until they know what you’re doing,” he said. “It’s part of a process, but you always try to talk about things and then try to make the changes as quick as possible.”
Tuesday’s game against the Avalanche will be on SN960 (radio) starting at 7 p.m. MST. There will be no television broadcast.