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At the Rink: Predators at Flames

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- Injury breeds opportunity for the Calgary Flames. At least that's what coach Bob Hartley is hoping.

After a run of injuries that has seen Mason Raymond (shoulder), Matt Stajan (knee), Joe Colborne (upper body) and Mikael Backlund (abdominal strain) all exit the lineup this week, Hartley is hoping that the injection of American Hockey League call-ups Markus Granlund and Michael Ferland can help ease the pain against the Nashville Predators on Friday.

"You always have to be ready for this and the good part is [Ferland and Granlund], we know those young players," Hartley said. "They've been with us and they played many games in preseason. That was the investment we committed because unfortunately, not that we were hoping for it, but you always have to get ready.

"Those two young guys will play very well for us."

It's Granlund’s first taste of the NHL this season. The 21-year-old played seven games for the Flames in 2013-14 and had two goals and one assist but missed the final 17 games because of a shoulder injury.

Ferland will make his NHL debut Friday.

"It's awesome," he said. "I'm really excited. I'm just trying to treat [Friday] like any other game day but obviously it's pretty hard. I'm really looking forward to [Friday]. I knew there were injuries and I was hoping I was going to get the nod. I know how fortunate I am up here. Now I just want to make the most of it.

"I'm just going to come into [Friday] like every other game I've played since I've been back. I just want to get pucks in the corners and wear their guys down and shoot the puck and hopefully get a chance to score a goal."

Ferland, 22, had four goals and nine points in nine games with the Adirondack Flames, Calgary's AHL affiliate. He played 25 games last season because of season-ending knee surgery in December 2013.

Had he been healthy, Ferland likely would have played his first NHL game last season.

"Last year he was maybe minutes away from being called up and he got injured in a practice, but he persevered," Hartley said. "He spent the summer in Calgary working out, getting ready. He trimmed down. This young man lost over 20 pounds. He lost over 20 pounds and now he has muscle, he has confidence. I'm proud. I'm very proud.

"This guy on the inside, I can't tell you how proud I am of [Ferland] for [Friday] because he's gone through a lot and he's committed himself on the ice, off the ice. It's a great reward. I'm quite pleased to see him here."

Predators captain Shea Weber understands the emotion Ferland will bring in his first NHL game.

He knows Nashville can't get caught up in that or Calgary's injury situation, however.

"You can sit there and look at it all you want but the guys that come in the lineup are going to play hard and going to play well," Weber said. "You can't look past it. We have to make sure we're ready.

"They're going to be playing with a lot of emotion. That's exciting; your first game, your adrenalin is pumping and you're flying. It's an exciting time. At the same time we've got to focus on our team and make sure we're ready."

Here are the projected lineups for the Predators and Flames:


Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - James Neal

Matt Cullen - Derek Roy - Craig Smith

Gabriel Bourque - Paul Gaustad - Eric Nystrom

Olli Jokinen - Colin Wilson - Taylor Beck

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Anton Volchenkov - Seth Jones

Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Calle Jarnkrok, Victor Bartley

Injured: Mike Fisher (Achilles tendon)


Curtis Glencross - Sean Monahan - David Jones

Michael Ferland - Markus Granlund - Jiri Hudler

Johnny Gaudreau - Paul Byron - Devin Setoguchi

Brandon Bollig - Lance Bouma - Brian McGrattan

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman

Ladislav Smid - Deryk Engelland

Jonas Hiller

Karri Ramo

Scratched: Raphael Diaz, Josh Jooris,

Injured: Sam Bennett (shoulder surgery) Mason Raymond (shoulder), Matt Stajan (knee), Joe Colborne (upper body), Mikael Backlund (abdominal strain)

Status report: The Predators are expected to use the same lineup used in a 4-1 victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. … McGrattan and Setoguchi will return to the Flames lineup. McGrattan has been a healthy scratch for the past five games while Setoguchi has sat out four straight and five of the past six. … Goaltender Jonas Hiller will make it back-to-back starts, the first time a Flames goaltender has played consecutive games. He had been alternating with Karri Ramo.

Who's hot: Ribeiro has points in six of his past seven games; he has three goals and four assists in that span. … Hiller is 3-0-1 in his past four starts; he's stopped 117 of 120 shots in that span. … Wideman saw his four-game goal-scoring streak snapped in the Flames' 2-1 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

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