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Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Leafs

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames




CONFIDENCE FROM KIPPER

The Flames head into this game with an averaging 36 shots allowed and while that is something the team is hoping to rectify as soon as possible, the play of starting netminder Miikka Kiprusoff has given the club time to work out kinks in their defensive game.

"I think we have more trust in him than probably most teams do," Rene Bourque said after practice. "We know that he is going to be there every night for us and giving us a chance to win."

The defencemen in front of him greatly appreciate the goaltender and how his play often lessens the load they have to carry.

"He helps us out a lot," Jay Bouwmeester said. "He plays the puck well. He talks, that sort of thing. It makes your life easier when you know you have a guy back there who you can trust."

In his franchise record-setting victory against the Canadiens, Kiprusoff stopped 35 of 36 shots on net. He was key in the Flames ability to hold off the Habs when they began to battle back from a deficit.

The Bell Centre holds one of the most boisterous crowd in the League and the Air Canada Centre is also another lively rink. The Flames will need their goaltender to quell momentum the Leafs may gain from the raucous crowd in Toronto.

"Tough building to play in," Bourque acknowledged. "Obviously it's Hockey Night In Canada, a big night. We don't play in Toronto too often so there's a lot of hype around this game."

BABCHUK BACK IN THE LINEUP

After being a healthy scratch for the last two games, blueliner Anton Babchuk will be reinserted into the lineup tonight, replacing Derek Smith in the Flames third defensive pairing.

Head coach Brent Sutter said the 27 year-old had spent a lot of time over the past week working on areas of his game the coaching staff thought he needed to improve upon.

"Just come back and be the good defenceman that he is, have some structure in his game."

In 66 games with the Flames, Babchuk has amassed eight goals and 27 points with a plus-19 rating. He signed a two-year contract with the Flames on July 4, 2011.

QUOTABLE

"It was Dion's turn. He avoided it long enough so it was his turn. We appreciated it, for sure ... There was a little bit of trash talking." - Iginla's response to who grabbed the bill after Friday's dinner with former Flame Dion Phaneuf


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