A COLLECTIVE EFFORT ON THE BLUELINE
With Mark Giordano placed on the injured reserve on Wednesday, the Flames defence corps have lost a key component. The 28 year-old was averaging well over 20:00 of ice time a night and while his teammates know they'll miss his presence, they are confident they can manage without him.
"Everybody is going to eat up those minutes," Scott Hannan stated. "Those are tough minutes to eat up. We're going to miss him but the guys have been playing well. Brodes, Smitty and we're all going to have to step up. It's a good thing we've been playing so well lately."
Giordano has been a go-to guy in every situation for the coaching staff. He has been a key member of the power play, kills penalties and plays against the League's top players every night. Having him missing from all of these scenarios may seem like a big hurdle for those trying to take over for him but Chris Butler believes it will motivate every one to step up and play at another level.
"He plays in every situation," Butler said. "However we're going to piece those minutes together, it's an opportunity for everyone else to step up and fill those."
SARICH RETURNS TO THE LINEUP
In order to fill the hole left by Giordano's injury, Cory Sarich will suit up for the first time since Nov. 21. The veteran has been a healthy scratch on several occasions this season due to strong performances from Derek Smith and TJ Brodie.
"I wouldn't say anxious, more excited," Sarich said after practice. "It's no fun sitting and watching so when you get a chance to get out there and give 'er, you try to make the most of it."
Being relegated to the press box has been a source of great aggravation for the 33 year-old and he is looking forward to being able to use that stress as a motivator tonight against Columbus.
"I'll take out some frustration on the opponent, that's usually a good idea. A good way to get into the game," he smiled. "I'm just looking forward to helping and contributing. It's hard to do that from the sidelines so tonight's my chance."
NOT TAKING THE OPPONENT LIGHTLY
While the Blue Jackets are sitting in the basement of the Western Conference, their play has steadily improved as the season has progressed. After falling in Columbus on Nov. 21 by a score 4-1, the Flames know anything less than a full 60:00 effort will likely end in another loss to the Blue Jackets.
"We have to put our best effort to win," Alex Tanguay said firmly. "It's as simple as it is. You guys know how close it is in the NHL now. If you don't play a good game, you don't win.
"It doesn't matter who you face. Whether you face the best team in the League or one of the teams at the bottom of the pack, you have to play your game and be good."