TAKING ON A NEW ROLE
Over the course of the preseason, Matt Stajan has seen his duties shift from what he had grown used to previously in his career.
"I've been penalty killing a bit this preseason," said Stajan. "I haven't been seeing much power play time. That's just the role I guess that they have for me. As a player, you just make the most of your opportunity."
Stajan has played quite a bit with Guillaume Desbiens during exhibition contests and will be on a line with him once again tonight. They will be joined by winger Lance Bouma tonight against the Islanders and Stajan feels the trio is on the cusp of an offensive outburst.
"They work hard," he said. "They're good hockey players. They're good at what they do. We can create out there. We're getting chances. It's not like we've been doing nothing.
"We've got two or three point-blank chances in every game. It's just finding the back of the net now. Obviously that's a huge factor but once you get a couple, things start to roll."
The pivot has faced his fair share of criticism after notching only six goals in the 2010-11 season but isn't letting outside opinions wear him down.
"I've learned to block everything else out. There's no point in dwelling. People are going to have their opinions no matter what. I can only control what I can control. If I'm getting a lot of slack then so be it.
"There's always a whipping boy in every city. If it's me, it's me. That's fine."
Raitis Ivanans and Cory Sarich took part in the pregame skate and neither player donned the yellow no contact jersey. The pair received medical clearance for full-contact practices but neither will play in tonight's tilt.
Mikael Backlund and Rene Bourque did not skate this morning, prompting questions about their health but head coach Brent Sutter dismissed any notion that the forwards were suffering from serious ailments, saying Backlund would be ready to go for Thursday and Bourque will be in the opening lineup on Oct. 8.
Captain Jarome Iginla has not skated since Sept. 18 after he suffered back spasms during practice. Despite missing over a week of camp, Sutter is optimistic about his timeline to get back on the ice.
"He's still not skating but we'll see how the next few days go. Hopefully he'll be able to get on the ice and we get him moving and have him ready for the start of the season."
PROJECTED FLAMES LINES & PAIRINGS
Tanguay - Horak - Stempniak
Glencross - Jokinen - Moss
Hagman - Byron - Kostopoulos
Bouma - Stajan - Desbiens
Giordano - Hannan
Bouwmeester - Butler
Babchuk - Smith
KarlssonPROJECTED ISLES LINES & PAIRINGS
Comeau - Reasoner - Rakhshani
DiBenedetto - Ullstrom - Haley
Pandolfo - Frischmon - Wallace
Kabanov - Strome - Gillies
Jurcina - Staios
Donovan - de Haan
Reese - Wishart
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