Joe Colborne can’t recall the last time he was the grey beard on his line, if ever.
But the 22-year-old will be the elder statesman on a trio that will also feature the likes of Sean Monahan, 19, and Markus Granlund, 20, when the Calgary Flames take on the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Colborne said. “Obviously Monny and I have played together. We have a good thing going. Just even the short time we’ve had with Granlund, you can tell he’s a strong player, a skilled player. He’ll certainly compliment us well.
“There’s three guys that can make plays. Whenever you have that, it’s a lot of chances to get creative and do good things.”
The line reshuffling sees Mike Cammalleri moved to the wing alongside Matt Stajan and David Jones, while the trio of Mikael Backlund, TJ Galiardi and Jiri Hudler remain intact. Paul Byron will center Lance Bouma and Kevin Westgarth on the fourth line.
The shakeup, coach Bob Hartley admitted, was to get a better look at Granlund and try to spark Calgary’s offence.
“Granny is much stronger than what I thought,” Hartley said. “He showed us good abilities with the puck, great hockey sense, great vision. Putting him with Monny and Colbie, the three guys can skate, they can handle the puck very well and it’s fun because they’re three young players.”
Monahan, who played with Granlund during the YoungStars tournament in Penticton last September, is ready to welcome the new addition to his wing.
“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “ He’s a skilled player. He works hard. He knows where to be. It’s going to help us out. I think with his speed and his skill, it’s going to be fun to play with him.”
“It’s going to be a lot of fun and I think a lot of good things will happen.”
BATTLE OF ALBERTA
Though he’s just in their first season of the ‘Battle of Alberta’, Monahan is well aware that the provincial rivalry between the Oilers and Flames is alive and well.
“It always feels like a different type of game,” the 6-foot-2, 195-pound pivot said. “Intensity picks up and you really want to win that much more. It’s the games you really want to play in.”
Though he’s also in his first season with the Flames, Colborne isn’t new to the battle. The Calgary, AB native always envisioned playing opposite the Oilers in the ‘Battle of Alberta’.
“I grew up with this,” Colborne said. “I remember some pretty good battles. It’s something you dream of when you’re a little kid. You’re on the Flames trying to score on the Oilers. It’s been a battle when we’ve played against them.
“There’s been some bad blood that has stemmed from past years. I don’t expect anything to change.”
BUTLER BACK IN
Despite leaving Thursday’s 2-0 loss against the Los Angeles Kings midway through the second period, defenceman Chris Butler will suit up Saturday against the Oilers.
Butler was originally expected to miss the game in Edmonton after suffering an upper body injury but ruled himself ready to go.
“I feel much better than I did 48 hours ago,” he said.
“Leaving the rink after the game the other day, I was certainly concerned about playing tonight. I thought at that time maybe it was going to be a long shot and we were shooting for Monday, but I got a lot of treatment done yesterday. Felt pretty good. Came in early this morning and kind of decided to go out there and see how it was and leave it up to me to assess how I felt and how I progressed. I feel a lot better now.”
Butler’s resiliency surprised Hartley.
“Because I saw the amount of pain he was in after the game against LA,” Hartley said. “Our medical staff told us the next morning that based on treatments and they would work on Butsy and he reacted real well.”
The Flames had recalled Chad Billins from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League as a precaution.
“It was kind of a nothing play. Without getting into too much detail, I felt there was a certain point there where I got hemmed into my zone one time and had trouble even attempting to contain a guy. I felt if I can’t compete, there’s no point in me being out here because I couldn’t help the guys. After the second period, decided that maybe we’d let it settle down a little bit and see where we are in a couple days.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Calgary’s All-time record vs. EDM: 107-88-19-2-1
All-time record CGY at EDM: 45-51-10-2-0
Last 10 games EDM vs. CGY: 4-6-0-0
Last 10 games CGY at EDM: 7-3-0-0
Saturday’s ‘Battle of Alberta’ will be broadcast on CBC (TV) and Sportsnet 960 The FAN (Radio).