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Preview: Flames vs. Canucks

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames



CALGARY, AB --
The Calgary Flames continue their trek through pre-season action in hosting the first of a home-and-home series with the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Saddledome.

The set comes as part of three games in three nights and at a time where Calgary’s evaluation of its younger campers is in full force.

“We have three games in three nights and let’s face it, it’s the year end exam for many of those youngsters,” Hartley said. “You don’t have to be a genius to figure out what is going to happen after those three games. We’re going to slash. We need some guys who will come out of the pack and make a push just like Josh Jooris did last year.”

Entering just his second professional camp last fall, Jooris was penciled into one pre-season game by Hartley, but bulled his way into a total of six, scoring twice and adding an assist, before eventually settling into a permanent spot on Calgary’s roster in late October.

Following Thursday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche, the Flames are expected to put forth a more veteran lineup against the Canucks.

Calgary’s roster in Denver featured just seven players who suited up for 48 games or more with the Flames last season, as well as Micheal Ferland and Sam Bennett -- both who played integral roles in the team’s Stanley Cup Playoffs push.

The projected lineup against Vancouver could feature the likes of Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Jiri Hudler, Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton.

The game could also feature the pre-season debut of Paul Byron, who was limited to 57 games last season due to a plethora of injuries, including one to his wrist repaired by surgery. Byron, 26, played just one game after February 16th, had to sit out during Calgary’s playoff run.

“It’s still a work in progress,” Byron said. “It’s hard to tell before the surgery and now it’s still got a long way to go before it’s 100 percent. Structurally it is healed, so it’s not going to get damaged. It’s a matter of getting the strength back and the range of motion. It’s going to come with playing time and using it and building that muscle back up again.”

The Canucks are expected to send some familiar faces Calgary’s way.

Jake Virtanen, who has starred with the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen, could suit up in the same building where he played his junior hockey. Sven Baertschi, who was drafted in the first round of the 2011 NHL Draft by the Flames, could also make an appearance. Calgary native Hunter Shinkaruk should make the trek, too.

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