On Thursday morning, Calgary Flames head coach Brent Sutter strongly hinted that netminder Leland Irving would play his first NHL game on Friday night against the Panthers.
"If you were going to the casino tonight and you were waging money on it, buddy, you'd probably make a hell of a lot."
The Flames want to make sure starting goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff gets adequate rest this season and have drawn up a tentative game plan for both Kiprusoff and his caddy.
"All along, the focus was for Miikka to play for the first two games on this trip."
The Flames have several tough games before Christmas and the bench boss noted that games against Chicago (Sunday), Minnesota (Tuesday), Detroit (Thursday) and Vancouver (Friday) play a role in choosing who will start in net tonight.
"You look at not just this trip but what happens coming up."
Irving was recalled on Dec. 5 after Henrik Karlsson was diagnosed with a high-grade MCL tear.
He was drafted by the Flames in the first round (26th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
The Swan Hills, AB native has been a pillar of strength for the Abbotsford Heat over the past two seasons. He has played in 23 games for the Heat this campaign, going 15-7-0 while recording a 2.30 GAA and a .914 save percentage.
PACKING A PUNCH
The line of Tom Kostopoulos, Matt Stajan and Tim Jackman have not only provided their usual boost of energy for their club but have also been key offensive contributors as of late.
Stajan notched his first goal of the season on Thursday night in Tampa Bay and the trio combined for three points in the overtime loss to the Bolts.
"Our line, we've been all over the net," Stajan said. "It's nice for us to get rewarded every once and awhile.
"Hopefully there is more to come."
In addition to putting up points, the line has been generating several quality scoring chances over the past week. A prime example came on Thursday when Jackman rattled a shot off the iron. If the shot had been a centimeter over, the game could have easily swung in Calgary's favour.
"We want to be part of scoring goals on this team," the pivot stated. "The work is there. It's just putting it in."