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Flames pair mark milestones against Stars

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- Eight years ago Dennis Wideman's only goal was to stay in the NHL for an entire season with the St. Louis Blues.

He's since managed that and then some.

Just a week shy of the anniversary of his first NHL game, Wideman will suit up for career game No. 600 when the Calgary Flames host the Dallas Stars at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday.

"I was hoping I would get a full year in when I first came in," said the Flames defenseman, who was 22 when he made his NHL debut. "That was about it. That was my goal at that point, just trying to stay, let alone play as many as I have now."

Wideman, now 30, has carved a lengthy career with the Blues, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals and Flames after being drafted in the eighth round (No. 241) by the Buffalo Sabres in 2002.

But it seems like only yesterday he was navigating through his first season of NHL action.

"To get to 600, I remember when it was the first couple games still," he said. "It's still fresh in my memory. These last eight or nine years have definitely flown by. I'm feeling pretty old. Calgary's dry air, it kind of stiffens you up a bit. You definitely don't wake up as fresh in the morning as you did when you're 22."

Wideman isn't alone in celebrating a milestone against the Stars.

Tim Jackman will draw into the lineup against Dallas and play the 400th game of his career.

The mark comes on his 32nd birthday, no less.

"When I think about it like that I feel really grateful and thankful that I get to play in my 400th game," Jackman said. "It just happens to be on my birthday. I'm just excited to be in the lineup and help our team get a win."

Much like Wideman, Jackman can't believe how quickly the games have piled up.

"It's gone by extremely fast," he said. "It's been a lot of fun. I've met a lot of great people. I tell the young guys all the time to enjoy it because it goes by quick.

"I'm just grateful and thankful I got this far. I've had a lot of people help me and a lot of people believed in me and gave me the strength to keep going and keep trying to play in this League."

One believer has been his agent.

Despite playing just 68 NHL games through his first six seasons of pro hockey, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Jackman was told to stick with it.

"I think there was a time I was talking to my agent, and this is a while back, I wasn't even sure I was going to play 100 games," said Jackman, who also has suited up for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Phoenix Coyotes, New York Islanders and Los Angeles Kings. "He believed in me. He said, 'You're going to play 250 before you even know it.' Now I'm here. I've just had a lot of people believe in me and push me."

That confidence has pushed Jackman to 400 games serves as a symbol for Lance Bouma, who will sit out Thursday. Much like Jackman has, the 23-year-old Flames forward is trying to carve a niche on Calgary's fourth line.

"He's a guy that I obviously talk to a lot," Bouma said. "We play together a lot so I talk to him that way, but also off the ice. I talk to him a lot. He's a great guy to have around and a good leader for us young guys. He's easy to talk to and easy to get along with. He's helped me a lot through this whole year."

Jackman's advice?

"I just told him to keep his chin up, keep working hard," Jackman said. "I tell him to keep getting his name on the score sheet, keep doing the little things right. He's working hard and he deserves to be in the lineup and he'll get back there. He's a good player. For the games I just tell him to enjoy it because it goes by fast."

Here are the expected lineups for Dallas and Calgary:


Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Valeri Nichushkin

Erik Cole - Cody Eakin - Alex Chiasson

Shawn Horcoff - Vernon Fiddler - Rich Peverley

Antoine Roussel - Travis Morin - Ryan Garbutt

Brenden Dillon - Stephane Robidas

Alex Goligoski - Trevor Daley

Jordie Benn - Sergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen

Dan Ellis

Scratched: Aaron Rome, Lane MacDermid

Injured: Ray Whitney (lower body)


TJ Galiardi - Matt Stajan - David Jones

Mike Cammalleri - Joe Colborne - Lee Stempniak

Sven Baertschi - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler

Tim Jackman - Mikael Backlund - Brian McGrattan

TJ Brodie - Chris Butler

Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman

Ladislav Smid - Shane O'Brien

Reto Berra

Karri Ramo

Scratched: Lance Bouma, Derek Smith

Injured: Mark Giordano (lower body), Curtis Glencross (MCL sprain)

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