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Flames look to stop red-hot Kessel

by Aaron Vickers /

CALGARY -- One game after holding Alex Ovechkin off the score sheet, the Calgary Flames are tasked with trying to do the same against another of the NHL's hottest forwards.

Hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday for the first time since Feb. 14, 2012, the Flames will look to shut down Phil Kessel, named the League's Second Star of the Week on Monday.

"Before trying to stop him we'll try to contain him," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "We've watched quite a few of the Leafs' games in the past week and he's been very impressive. He's been very dominant and even with [Tyler] Bozak out of the lineup, last night with [Nazem] Kadri he didn't miss a beat. It just shows the depth of this organization right now. It's a good challenge."


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Hartley can take solace in the job TJ Brodie and Chris Butler did against Ovechkin last Saturday. The defensive pairing helped blank Ovechkin, who came into Calgary riding a three-game point streak that saw the Capitals forward collect four goals and six points.

Kessel comes into Calgary on an even hotter stretch with points in four straight, including seven goals. Four of Kessel's points came at the expense of the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, propelling him into second in League scoring, two points behind Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The challenges of Ovechkin and Kessel are similar, according to Brodie.

"You just have to go about the game the same way," he said. "They're both great players that will shoot the puck when they get the opportunity and make plays when they get the opportunity. Taking away the time and space and making them earn everything that he gets is important."

Flames forward Joe Colborne, acquired from Toronto in late September, shared a similar scouting report on Kessel.

"He's a top player in this League for a reason," Colborne said. "He signed that nice new big ticket (an eight-year, $64 million contract Oct. 1) for a reason too. You have to make him play in his [defensive] zone and try to keep him from the offensive zone because there is no real way to contain him.

"He's a guy like Ovechkin. He's going to get his chances on the ice no matter what. He's that smart on the ice and that skilled and you just have to try to minimize it and have someone close to him at all times."

Here are the expected lineups for the game Wednesday:


James van Riemsdyk - Nazem Kadri - Phil Kessel

Mason Raymond - Dave Bolland - David Clarkson

Carter Ashton - Jay McClement - Joffrey Lupul

Frazer McLaren - Trevor Smith - Colton Orr

Cody Franson - Morgan Rielly

Dion Phaneuf - Carl Gunnarsson

Paul Ranger - Jake Gardiner

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Scratched: Troy Bodie, John-Michael Liles

Injured: Nikolai Kulemin (ankle), Mark Fraser (knee), Tyler Bozak (lower body)


Curtis Glencross - Matt Stajan - David Jones

Sven Baertschi - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler

Mike Cammalleri - Joe Colborne - TJ Galiardi

Lance Bouma - Mikael Backlund - Brian McGrattan

TJ Brodie - Chris Butler

Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman

Derek Smith - Shane O'Brien

Karri Ramo

Joey MacDonald

Scratched: Tim Jackman

Injured: Lee Stempniak (lower body), Mark Giordano (ankle), Christopher Breen (abdominal wall strain)

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