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Versteeg set to return to lineup tonight

After missing nine games with a groin strain, Kris Versteeg will get back into the lineup tonight in Columbus

by Torie Peterson @ToriePeterson /

COLUMBUS, OH -- When Kris Versteeg steps out onto the ice for his first game since suffering a groin strain on Nov. 3, he won't be feeling any apprehension about his injury.

Martin Gelinas has made sure of that.

The Calgary Flames' assistant coach has put Versteeg through the paces ahead of his return to the lineup, going through grueling skates to ensure he's in prime condition.

"He pushes you hard and he makes you ready for the games. I've been with him a few times and he's pushed me extremely hard. I'd rather play than ever go with Marty, on a good day," Versteeg chuckled.

"Now it's about going out there and playing. I think being with those guys and getting my reps and everything, it should make me as ready as possible tonight."

The Martin Gelinas stamp of approval was enough for Glen Gulutzan to deem Versteeg ready for tonight's battle against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"When Marty Gelinas tells you that's one of the toughest skates he's put a guy through, you know it's a tough skate. And (Gelinas) skated it. It was probably pretty tough.

"With Johnny being out, it's nice ... (Versteeg) has got some skill. We can get him on the power play and get him back in there and rolling.

"We'll watch his minutes and see how he is but (Gelinas) put him through some really good skates here. We wanted to make sure he was real ready to go and he is. It's nice to get him back."

Versteeg has been impressed with his team's play over the last couple of weeks, seeing strides being made throughout the lineup. For the most part, the club has been playing a sound, structured game that Versteeg feels will give them a chance for success on a nightly basis.

"The guys have been really going pretty good here for the last five, six games. Obviously the record not being what we wanted but 3-2 in the last five is a positive. It's something to build on.

"I think if we keep playing the way we have been, especially on the road for most of the season, we'll give ourselves a chance to win. We're playing a very good hockey team tonight so we're going to have to do that."

In 12 games with the Flames, Versteeg has two goals and four points. He signed a one-year deal with Calgary on Oct. 11.

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