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At the Rink: Capitals at Flames

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- Calgary Flames forward Joe Colborne will make his season debut against the Washington Capitals at Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; SN 360, CSN-DC).

"It's just excitement right now," Colborne said after the morning skate. "It's been a long time coming and it feels like the training camp would never end for me. It's tough watching your team go out there. It's a little easier when they're winning, but I'm just excited to get back and help the team win any way I can."

In search of more offense, Flames coach Bob Hartley mixed up his forward lines. Michael Frolik joins the top line with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, and Jiri Hudler will skate with Bennett and Mikael Backlund.

"We're going to split them up for a while. After many years of marriage, sometimes a weekend off is good," Hartley told the Calgary Herald on Monday.

Hudler, Monahan and Gaudreau combined for four goals this season.

"[The top line], they were amazing last year, but every year is a little different," Frolik said. "We need to mix it up a little bit. I'm not sure how long it'll stay, maybe just a period. But we need to get some guys going."

Frolik has three assists in five games this season but is looking forward to playing with his new linemates.

"They're very skilled guys, but we have to make sure we play good defense, that's where it starts. … we just have to find the chemistry now and hopefully we find it pretty soon and hopefully we win [Tuesday's] game."

Colborne missed each of the first five games of the season with a broken thumb, an injury sustained when he blocking a slap shot from Andrew Ladd during a 3-1 pre-season loss against the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 1.

Calgary (1-4-0) has lost three consecutive games on home ice to start the season for the first time since 2000-01. The Flames are last in the Pacific Division and Western Conference, and are 29th in the NHL with a minus-9 goal differential.

"I think [the challenge is] not to go out there and try to be a savior or anything like that," said Colborne, who also underwent offseason wrist surgery. "Just go out there and play my game. I know that we have a lot of proud guys in this room that aren't happy with how we've started as a team. I think our whole team is going to come out and show the effort level that we need tonight. We had a good practice yesterday. We were going. It was intense out there. We had a good pre-game skate and hopefully we can carry that over."

The game will be Washington's first on the road this season. They've opened the season with a 3-1-0 record at Verizon Center.

"It's nice to play at home where you feel comfortable, but this is where the bonding starts, where you really get to know the new guys and get all the little inside jokes, and really come together," Alzner said. "We're excited about that. It's a tough road trip to have as our first one, but it feels good. Just going for dinner with the guys last night, you rekindle all the stuff from last year. It's a lot of fun, but it's a business trip, unfortunately."

Here are the projected lineups:


Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Justin Williams

Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Brooks Laich - Chandler Stephenson - Andre Burakovsky

Brooks Orpik - John Carlson

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner

Dmitry Orlov - Taylor Chorney

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Injured: None

Scratched: Michael Latta, Nate Schmidt, Stanislav Galiev


Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Michael Frolik

Sam Bennett - Mikael Backlund - Jiri Hudler

Markus Granlund - Joe Colborne - Josh Jooris

Brandon Bollig - Matt Stajan - David Jones

Mark Giordano - Dougie Hamilton

Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman

Brett Kulak - Deryk Engelland

Karri Ramo

Jonas Hiller

Injured: TJ Brodie (hand), Ladislav Smid (neck), Lance Bouma (leg)

Scratched: Joni Ortio, Mason Raymond

Status report: There are no expected changes to the Capitals lines or defense pairings. … Bennett, who missed Calgary's 5-2 loss against Edmonton on Saturday with an upper-body injury, is expected to return to the lineup. The Flames assigned forward Markus Granlund to Stockton of the American Hockey League on Tuesday.

Who's hot: Ovechkin has goals in each of the Capitals' three games this season, and eight goals and 17 points in 10 career games against the Flames. …Wideman has four assists in the past three games.

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