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Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Canucks

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames


After the Flames optional pre-game skate, head coach Brent Sutter confirmed forward Matt Stajan would make his return to the lineup. The 27 year-old has sat as a healthy scratch for the past two games as the team has gone with 11 forwards and 7 defencemen.

"We are going to dress 12 forwards tonight so Matt is going in to play center ice for us," he said. "He's got to bring us some juice. He's just got to be a real solid competitive player for us."

Stajan isn't taking this chance lightly, knowing he must perform well if he wants to remain a mainstay in the Flames lineup.

"You want to play and when you have an opportunity, you're excited for it. Go out, work hard and hopefully make things happen - that is the mindset."

Yesterday's line indicate Stajan will skate in between Tom Kostopoulos and Tim Jackman, two players who were key offensive contributors in the Flames 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Friday.  That line has been able to generate a lot of chances over the past week but Sutter said he isn't pushing Stajan in that regard.

"I'm not putting a lot of expectations on him or anything like that. I just want him to come in and play well."

Given Mikael Backlund is expected to return this month, the competition for ice time will be fierce. Individual play - not seniority - has determined who is in every night and since Stajan was the odd man out when the team opted to dress 7 defencemen, the pivot will need to bring his best game to keep his spot.

"We've been really happy with where Olli and Roman are," Sutter said. "Mo is kind of right where I thought he'd be, coming off his injury. Backs isn't far away. There's a little push coming."


The way some Canucks fans have reacted to the Canucks play in the first month of the 2011-12 season, you would think the team hasn't won a single contest. Aggravation to full-blown panic has been expressed by some Vancouver followers, thanks in large part to the team's 5-5-0 record - something they feel isn't acceptable given the run the team had in the postseason.

The Flames, however, still view them as an incredibly dangerous squad.

"We don't look at them, a team, any different than last year," Rene Bourque said. "They're still one of the elite teams in the League. They always seem to bring their best game out against us when we play them.

"Even though they've had a slow start, they're still above .500 so we're not taking them lightly, that's for sure."

The Canucks have had the Flames number when playing in Calgary, with the Flames last win against Vancouver at home coming on Oct. 16, 2009.

"The guys who've been here, we know a little bit of that history. I didn't know it goes back so far," Jarome Iginla said. "We're due for a change. From our point of view, we feel like we are playing better."

Follow Torie Peterson on Twitter | @ToriePeterson

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