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At the Rink: Panthers at Flames

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com

CALGARY -- Calgary Flames defenseman Ladislav Smid will return to the lineup Friday against the Florida Panthers with a whole new perspective.

Smid, who returns after missing 10 games because of an upper-body injury, and wife Ashley welcomed twins into the world Christmas Eve.

"You hate to admit it, but nothing else really matters," Smid said. "Hockey doesn't matter as much. Our family just got bigger. I'm going to be focused on that."

The twins -- a boy, Ladislav, and girl, Zoey -- arrived six weeks ahead of schedule and remain at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Alberta Children's Hospital.

Smid's injury, sustained on a hit from Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Simon Despres on Dec. 12, has allowed him to focus more on family.

The timing between the two worked out, he said, especially for Ashley.

"I think more for my wife," Smid said. "She was really happy I was able to spend some time at home and with her in the hospital. I guess it worked out."

But it's also made for some juggling.

Ready to return to action, Smid has spent most of his time jumping between Scotiabank Saddledome and the NICU.

"It's difficult but I think I can manage," Smid said. "I'm going there right now for a quick visit. After that I'm going to be focused on the game. It was difficult obviously with the injury and my kids being born. It was challenging times but finally I'm back in the lineup. I'm so excited to be back. It's going to help me to not have to bag skate me for another week, so it's great to be back."

Calgary coach Bob Hartley said he is happy to have the 6-foot-3, 209-pound defenseman back at his disposal.

"You can't get better gifts than what he got," Hartley said. "At the same time he was injured, so it was coming from him at every side. Smid is a competitor and had some great days at practice. I talked to him this morning and he wants to go and we need him.

"Sometimes you have to draw positives from situations, and if there was one that is it."

Here are the projected lineups:

PANTHERS

Jonathan Huberdeau - Nick Bjugstad - Jimmy Hayes

Sean Bergenheim - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes

Jussi Jokinen - Dave Bolland - Tomas Fleischmann

Tomas Kopecky - Derek MacKenzie - Scottie Upshall

Willie MitchellDmitry Kulikov

Brian CampbellAaron Ekblad

Dylan OlsenShane O'Brien

Al Montoya

Roberto Luongo

Scratched: Vincent Trocheck, Brandon Pirri

Injured: Erik Gudbranson (upper body), Shawn Thornton (groin)

FLAMES

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler

Curtis Glencross - Mikael Backlund - Joe Colborne

Mason Raymond - Markus Granlund - Paul Byron

Lance Bouma - Matt Stajan - David Jones

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman

Ladislav Smid - Deryk Engelland

Jonas Hiller

Joni Ortio

Scratched: Brian McGrattan, Brandon Bollig, Raphael Diaz

Injured: Sam Bennett (shoulder surgery), Josh Jooris (upper body), Karri Ramo (upper body)

Status update: The Panthers held an optional morning skate after playing Thursday at the Vancouver Canucks. With Luongo have started against Vancouver, Montoya is expected to get the call against the Flames. … Ortio, recalled Thursday from Adirondack of the American Hockey League, had travel issues and didn't join the Flames skate. He's expected to arrive in time for the game.

Who's hot: Ekblad has points in three straight games. … Hudler, who will return to action after missing a 3-2 loss against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday for the birth of his daughter, Anna, has assists in six straight games.

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