Despite a morning skate scare, Karri Ramo will make his first start since November 8th at Staples Center against the Los Angeles Kings.
Ramo left practice after being struck in the leg with the puck and didn't return, but Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley assured that the 28-year-old simply suffered a “stinger” and would be between the pipes when the puck drops.
“He looks good,” Hartley said. “He just took a puck on the leg. It stung him for a while, but a little bag of ice did the trick. He’s good to go.”
Ramo has made two appearances since his last start, a 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. He allowed three goals on 15 shots against the Dallas Stars on Nov. 14th, while he stopped all four shots faced against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday. Both games were in relief of starter Reto Berra.
Coming off a 5-2 loss to the Ducks on Friday, Hartley plans on shaking up his lineup. Both Paul Byron and Shane O’Brien will draw in against the Kings.
For Byron, Los Angeles is his first taste of National Hockey League action this season.
“(I’m) very excited,” he said. “It’s the opportunity that everyone is looking for. A couple injuries come in so they’re looking for guys to step in and make an impact and hopefully I can do that.”
This year with the Abbotsford Heat, the 24-year-old forward has five goals and 18 points in 23 games. He plans on bringing the same game to California.
“I’m just trying to play the same game I’m accustomed to,” Byron said. “I’ve had great success so far this year really using my speed and generating a lot of chances out there. I feel really confident.”
Hartley expects one thing out of the 5-foot-7, 153-pound Byron.
“Energy, energy,” he said. “When you’re a small player, whatever your size is on paper, especially to play in this conference, you need to play a bigger size on the ice. I think Paul Byron can bring this to our hockey club. He’s been very good in Abbotsford so he deserves it.”
O’Brien will get into the lineup after serving as a healthy scratch against the Ducks, getting the opportunity to play in front of his dad on the Father’s Trip.
“Anytime you’re out of the lineup, you’re not very happy about it and you want to be out there competing with the boys,” he said. “It is what it is. It’s part of the game, but obviously with my dad on the trip, it’s extra special to play tonight. Hopefully we can find a way to get two points for them and make the Father’s Trip a little more enjoyable.”
After watching his team slump to just two shots in the first 12 minutes against the Ducks, O’Brien hopes to help the Flames jump out of the gate against the Kings.
“We’ve just got to compete a little harder,” he said. “As the season goes on and on, it gets harder and harder to win. Teams tighten up, points are more important. It’s going to get harder before it gets easier and we’ve just got to man up and dig in and find ways to win hockey games. It doesn’t have to be pretty. We’ve just got to be more competitive, a little more hard nosed.”
It’s a formula Hartley’s trying to instill in his club.
“That’s what I told them [Saturday] morning,” Hartley said. “Whatever your size is on paper, your size has to be bigger on the ice. We’re playing bigger teams than us. That’s no secret. At the same time, I’ve coached a lot of young players, a lot of small players that showed up to work. It’s a battle. Unfortunately we cannot stretch them to 6-3 and 220-pounds. It becomes in their hands how they show up on the ice and how they compete.”
GIORDANO SKATES WITH 'MATES
Saturday’s morning skate marked the first time Mark Giordano returned to the ice with teammates since suffering a broken ankle in October.
“It’s his first time with the team, but he’s been skating for two, three days now,” Hartley said. “He’s doing good. He’s worked so hard in the gym. His conditioning is good. We all know that conditioning in the gym and game conditioning is never the same but there’s nothing we can do. Gio, he’s a warrior. He’s a very proud athlete.”
Giordano had two goals and nine points in eight games before suffering the injury against the Kings on Oct. 21st.
“I think the boys are excited to get right back at it. Obviously I didn’t play last night but I could feel on the bus that all the boys were anxious to put that one behind them and get ready for this one.”
VS. THE KINGS
All-time vs. the Kings: 110-82-21-4
All-time vs. the Kings in LA: 45-51-9-3
Last 10 games vs. the Kings: 3-5-2
Last 10 games vs. the Kings in LA: 5-4-1
The Flames have faced the Kings once this season, taking a 3-2 win at Staples Center on October 21st. TJ Brodie, Mike Cammalleri and Sean Monahan all scored for the Flames, while Ramo made 27 saves in the victory.
Tonight's game can seen on CBC at 8:00 PM MST. Sportsnet 960 The Fan will carry the radio broadcast.