SASKATOON, SK -- After splitting their first two pre-season games against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, the Calgary Flames are looking to build off strong performances in both spit-squad outings as they take on the Ottawa Senators on Monday evening at 7:00 PM.
The Flames picked up a 6-5 shootout victory in Edmonton on Saturday, scoring three goals in the last 9:00 of regulation to force overtime. Head coach Bob Hartley, who coached the squad in Calgary, caught the last 15 minutes of the game and loved the team's ability to come back from such a deficit in such a short amount of time.
In Calgary, the Flames fell behind 2-0 but tied the game up in the third period thanks to tallies from Emile Poirier and Mike Cammalleri. Edmonton managed to score late to edge Calgary 3-2 but Hartley was pleased with his team's passion and intensity throughout the game.
"In my way of doing things, exhibition games - especially the first one - you're not really looking for perfect execution because you're not going to get it. You have guys who are still adjusting, lots of new blood. You're asking for intensity, you're looking for teamwork. That's what we got. I think they battled all the way to the end."
A lot of that new blood Hartley spoke of comes in the form of rookies with little or no NHL experience. The Flames have plenty of youth on their training camp roster and the coaches haven't shied away from utilizing the kids in all situations.
On Saturday, the likes of Sean Monahan, Michael Ferland, Patrick Sieloff, John Ramage, Ryan Culkin, Ben Hanowski, Brett Kulak, Josh Jooris, Markus Granlund, Keegan Kanzig, and Poirier logged a lot of ice time. Hartley wants to continue to hand rookies more responsibility to see how they react.
"They've made great NHL plays and they've made junior plays too," Hartley summarized. "But that is why we play them. If we wouldn't want to see them make mistakes, they would have played 3:00 or 4:00.
"I will never bring a kid to camp if I'm not going to put him in a situation to either fail or succeed. We tell the players, 'We don't decide. You decide. We watch.' If we're going to watch, we've got to put them in situations where they will either succeed or fail."
KEEP AN EYE ON
The line of Max Reinhart, Monahan and Poirier.
Reinhart, who missed the first portion of training camp with an undisclosed injury, played in Sunday's intra-squad game and didn't miss a beat. He was tenacious on the forecheck and generated a number of scoring chances for Team White.
Monahan and Poirier played together on line on Sunday and the pair of 2013 first round draft picks meshed very well, combining for two points in Team White's 2-1 win over Team Black.
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It appears Reto Berra, acquired in the Jay Bouwmeester trade earlier this year, will start in net in Saskatoon with Karri Ramo backing up the Swiss goaltender. Berra was stellar in Edmonton on Saturday, backstopping his club to a 6-5 SO victory over their northern rivals with 13 saves on 14 shots in his 36:42 of ice time.
On Sunday, Hartley noted that the goaltenders in the three pre-season games over the next couple of days will likely play full games rather than splitting them.
"We just have to finalize who will get the starts where," he stated. "Today, if you had asked me who is ahead, who is last - it was basically a photo finish until this morning. It's a good problem to have but at the same time, I'd like someone to show consistency and say, 'I'm the guy.'
"They told us that they want to be the guy, now I would like them to show us who will be the guy."
Netminder Joni Ortio, who was selected by the Flames in the sixth round of the 2009 NHL Draft, is with the team in Saskatchewan but isn't slated to dress in Saskatoon.
David Eddy, Braden Lamb and Culkin are with the team in Saskatoon but aren't scheduled to dress for the game against the Senators.
After Monday's game in Saskatoon, the Flames will fly to Regina to take on the New York Islanders at 7:00 PM MT in one half of a pair of split-squad games. The group that did not travel to Saskatchewan will take on the Islanders at the Saddledome. The game in Calgary will be broadcast by Sportsnet 960 The FAN.