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Flames' Russell game-time decision

Hudler traded before game against Senators

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

SENATORS (29-27-6) at FLAMES (26-30-4)

TV: 10 p.m. ET; CBC, NHL.TV

CALGARY -- Defenseman Kris Russell will be a game-time decision for a second straight game when the Calgary Flames host the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday.
Russell has missed the past six games because of a lower-body injury.
His absence has fueled speculation the pending unrestricted free agent will be traded before the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 29.


Earlier Saturday, the Flames traded right wing Jiri Hudler to the Florida Panthers for a second-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Flames coach Bob Hartley tried quieting the rumors revolving around Russell.
"There's no mixed messages," Hartley said. "Remember the night of Jarome Iginla? Go back to the morning … what did we say? We said Jarome Iginla was scratched, we didn't say Jarome Iginla was injured. We would never put Kris Russell in a situation where he is lying or we are lying.
"Kris Russell has an injury; he's going to be a game time decision. We don't know his status yet. He's been injured. He's feeling much better. Yesterday he skated for a good period of time but we didn't push him, and obviously he is not 100 percent. If he was 100 percent, he would be in the lineup tonight.
"We would never lie in a situation like this and the proof is we didn't lie with a guy that carried this franchise for many years in Jarome Iginla. We scratched him and you guys knew fully what was going on. We're not going to suddenly play games with Kris Russell."
Russell has four goals and 15 points in 51 games this season, and is second in the NHL with 174 blocked shots.
He is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer when his two-year contract expires.
The Flames are 12 points back of the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, and 14 points back of the San Jose Sharks for third in the Pacific Division.
"It's always a weird time of year I think for any team, especially when you're not really in the mix of the playoff race," said Calgary forward David Jones, another pending unrestricted free agent. "Most people are speculating of who's coming in and who's going out."
Three teams and four points separate the Senators from the Pittsburgh Penguins, who hold the second wild card entry from the Eastern Conference.
Ottawa can't be concerned with outside distractions, said coach Dave Cameron.
"We're behind the eight-ball. We've got to bring our 'A' game," he said. "There are two points up and all that matters now is results. We have to find ways to win points. That's our focus and it has been for the last little while. It'll continue to be our focus. What happens outside of that is fluff for me."
Here are the projected lineups:
Mike Hoffman - Kyle Turris - Mark Stone
Ryan Dzingel - Mika Zibanejad - Bobby Ryan
Nick Paul - Curtis Lazar - Chris Neil
Zack Smith - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Alex Chiasson
Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson
Dion Phaneuf - Cody Ceci
Chris Wideman - Mark Borowiecki
Craig Anderson
Andrew Hammond
Injured: Clarke MacArthur (concussion)
Scratched: Patrick Wiercioch, Shane Prince
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Josh Jooris
Joe Colborne - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik
Micheal Ferland - Sam Bennett - David Jones
Lance Bouma - Matt Stajan - Brandon Bollig
Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie
Deryk Engelland - Dougie Hamilton
Tyler Wotherspoon - Jakub Nakladal
Joni Ortio
Jonas Hiller
Injured: Karri Ramo (torn ACL), Kris Russell (lower body), Ladislav Smid (upper body)
Suspended: Dennis Wideman
Status update: Turris did not participate in morning skate but will be in the lineup … Ortio will make his third straight start.
Who's hot: Pageau has five assists during a four-game point streak. Stone has goals in back-to-back games … Gaudreau has a goal and seven assists in a six-game point streak.

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