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Flames' Monahan to be a game-time decision

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames could open the 2014-15 season Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks without an integral piece of their forward core.

Sean Monahan did not participate in Calgary's morning skate because he is sick and will be a game-time decision against the Canucks, coach Bob Hartley said.

"You guys asked me for the lineup [Tuesday] and I told you, 'Wait until [Wednesday], I'll probably have something new for you,'" Hartley said. "He [Monahan] is going to be a game-time decision. He was sick. Right now he's at home. He's resting. If he's good to go, the medical staff and [Monahan] will let us know later on."

As a rookie last season, the 19-year-old Monahan finished second on the Flames with 22 goals.

He was expected to form a top line centering Curtis Glencross and Jiri Hudler. If he's unable to go, Hartley said to expect plenty of line juggling, but center Joe Colborne initially will step into Monahan's place.

"Be ready for a mish-mash," Hartley said. "Obviously we have guys that can play several positions and that's the beauty of it. It gives us plenty of options. Right now I have [Colborne] in that spot. I'm more than confident [Colborne] could do good but at the same time we're playing a team with great depth, good skills.

"We'll start it like this, but again, we'll wait first to see about [Monahan] if he plays [Wednesday]."

Colborne, who had 10 goals and 28 points last season, his first full NHL season, said he is ready for the challenge.

"It's just, I guess, my good luck that I was the guy getting told I was moving up," he said. "We're also hoping that [Monahan] is feeling a lot better by [Wednesday]. He's such an integral part of our team. We don't want him missing many games.

"You've got to step up and take advantage of the ice time that's given. Again, you don't want to be missing such a key component of your team like [Monahan]. We'll all try to pick it up a bit and make sure we're taking care of him as he's getting better."

Calgary isn't the only club that may be missing an integral piece to start the season.

Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa is also a game-time decision after injuring himself last Thursday in a preseason game against the Edmonton Oilers. Bieksa crashed into the boards awkwardly while attempting to hit Edmonton forward Tyler Pitlick.

"Opening night is always a big game to play in," Bieksa said. "Most of the time it's been a long summer and you're anxious, and this is kind of what you've been working hard for. Obviously everybody wants to play.

"We're considering all factors right now. This isn't a huge deal right now. It's not a huge decision. It's Game 1. Whether I play or not, we have a lot of confidence in our [defense]."

Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins isn't willing to put Bieksa into action if the veteran defenseman isn't ready.

"I think he's a warrior," Desjardins said. "He plays hard. I think he recovers quickly. He's quick at that.

"The biggest thing is if he's ready. He won't play if he's not ready so we just have to make sure he's ready."

Here are the projected lineups:


Daniel SedinHenrik SedinRadim Vrbata

Chris HigginsNick BoninoAlexandre Burrows

Brad RichardsonLinden VeyZack Kassian

Derek DorsettShawn MatthiasJannik Hansen

Alexander EdlerChristopher Tanev

Dan Hamhuis - Luca Sbisa

Ryan Stanton - Yannick Weber

Ryan Miller

Eddie Lack

Scratched: Tom Sestito

Injured: Kevin Bieksa (shoulder), Frank Corrado (undisclosed), Bo Horvat (shoulder)


Curtis Glencross - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler

Mason Raymond - Mikael Backlund - Lance Bouma

Johnny Gaudreau - Joe Colborne - Paul Byron

Brandon Bollig - Matt Stajan - Brian McGrattan

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Kris Russell - Deryk Engelland

Ladislav Smid - Dennis Wideman

Jonas Hiller

Karri Ramo

Scratched: David Jones, Devin Setoguchi, Raphael Diaz

Injured: Corey Potter (shoulder), Sam Bennett (shoulder)

Status report: Flames forward David Jones will be in the lineup and Paul Byron will shift to center if Monahan cannot dress. … Vancouver goaltender Ryan Miller and Calgary goaltender Jonas Hiller will be making their debuts with their new teams after signing as free agents in the offseason. … Hiller is expected to start against the Canucks while Karri Ramo will play Thursday against the Oilers.

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