Markus Granlund didn’t have to wait long into his National Hockey League career to cross paths with brother Mikael. Just five days, in fact.
Career NHL game No. 3 will feature a Markus versus Mikael matchup as the Calgary Flames visit the Minnesota Wild on Monday, a meeting that had both brothers downplaying the sibling rivalry.
“I don’t really think about it that I’m playing against my brother,” said Markus, a second round pick of the Flames from 2011. “It’s just a normal game. Just do your best and be yourself.”
“For sure it’s exciting, but you don’t want to think about that too much,” countered Mikael, a first round pick from 2010 with 75 career NHL games under his belt over parts of two seasons. “It’s just playing your game and that’s it.”
Despite not having a brother of his own, coach Bob Hartley knows there’s a special significance to playing against family, so much so that he’s putting Markus in the starting lineup with the hope that Wild coach Mike Yeo will counter with Mikael.
“I think that it’s a battle of the two brothers,” Hartley said. “I don’t have any brothers so I can’t say it’s special, but I’m sure that it is, especially being the younger one. I’m sure he’ll go out of his way to prove the big one that he’s just as good.”
STEMPNIAK, GRATS BACK
The Flames will see the return of Lee Stempniak on Monday after the 31-year-old spent time in Boston with his wife Lindsay for the birth of twin girls, Lucy and Reese.
“I’d been away for a long time, especially with this backing into the Olympic break,” Stempniak said. “It’s exciting to be back. Hockey’s a huge part of my life. I’m really passionate about it and it’s nice to be back and be back playing.”
The new father hoped he wouldn’t skip a beat. He continued to train and skate while in Boston.
“It was just by myself but I was able to skate,” Stempniak said. “I worked out and rode the bike and tried to do everything I could to be ready and to stay in shape. I think if anything, the timing a little bit with passes in your feet and picking pucks up like that or pucks off the boards. Hopefully that comes with time. It shouldn’t be too long.”
Forward Brian McGrattan will also return to the lineup after missing two games with an upper body injury. Though the Flames will welcome both McGrattan and Stempniak back into the lineup, Calgary will be without Matt Stajan, who has returned to Calgary for personal reasons.
“Grats is back,” Hartley said. “We sent Westy (Kevin Westgarth) back to Calgary on Sunday morning and Grats, we already know that Grats would be cleared for tonight’s game. We’re at 12 forwards, so everyone will be playing.”
“We gave eight goals in our last five games, one being in an open net. I think that our team game, I can’t ask much more from our team game. I think that in the three zones, obviously, that if we could score a few more goals, especially on the power play, the wins would even come at a better pace, but I like the way that we’re competing. I like the way that we’re skating. We’re playing hard but at the same time, we’re playing very disciplined. That’s the way that we want to build this team.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Calgary’s All-time record vs. MIN: 42-21-4-4-5
All-time record CGY at MIN: 18-14-1-2-3
Last 10 games MIN vs. CGY: 5-2-1-2
Last 10 games CGY at MIN: 4-4-1-1
Monday’s game will be broadcast on Sportsnet West (TV) and on Sportsnet 960 The FAN (radio).