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Flames Stempniak joins Giordano on the shelf

- October 26th, 2013

Capitals (5-5-0) at Flames (4-4-2)

TIME: 8 p.m.


RADIO: Sportsnet Fan 960

THE MAIN STORYLINE: After starting the season with a 3-0-2 mark but then winning one of five games on their recent road trip, life doesn’t get any easier when the Washington Capitals come to town. The Caps have won four of their last five games.

LINEUP NOTES: Now the Flames will be without RW Lee Stempniak, who’s been their most consistent veteran this season, due to a lower-body injury. He’s joining D Mark Giordano (lower body) on the shelf, which means the the club’s most consistent forwards this season are out of action.

LW Sven Baertschi will return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch last game.

The Flames have summoned D Derek Smith from the minors. He played one AHL game but no NHL clashes this season.

Kari Ramo will start in goal.

The Capitals don’t look like they’ll make any changes to their lineup, and for good reason. They’re rolling and even Mikhail Grabovski has been lighting the lamp of late.

Unfortunately, that means Calgary product Jay Beagle won’t draw back into the lineup.

Braden Holtby, who was hooked in the Flames season opener in Washington, will get the nod in net for the Caps.

BURNING QUESTION: Can the Flames stem the tide and prevent their first three-game losing streak of the season?

PLAYER TO WATCH: Capitals RW Alex Ovechkin. So good he was named a first-team all star as a right winger and second-team all star on the left wing. He has 10 goals in 10 games this season and will shoot from the parking lot if need be.

FAST FACT: In seven career games against the Flames, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has amassed eight goals and 15 points.

“It’s a big opportunity and I take it very serious. I want to make sure I leave everything on the ice so the next time, when we have a full, healthy lineup, it’s not going to be me out. I want to make sure next time we have a full healthy lineup, ‘He’s good to go. We can’t take him out of the lineup.’ ” – Sven Baertschi after missing last game

Projected Flames Lines

Curtis Glencross-Matt Stajan-David Jones
Sven Baertschi-Sean Monahan-Jiri Hudler
Michael Cammalleri-Mikael Backlund-TJ Galiardi
Lance Bouma-Joe Colborne-Brian McGrattan

TJ Brodie-Chris Butler
Kris Russell-Dennis Wideman
Derek Smith-Shane O’Brien

Joey MacDonald
Karri Ramo

INJURED: D Mark Giodano (lower body), RW Lee Stempniak (lower body)
SCRATCHES: RW Tim Jackman, D Chris Breen

Flames ready to raise the curtain at the Saddledome

- October 6th, 2013

Canucks (1-1-0) at Flames (1-0-1)

TIME: 6 p.m.

TV: Sportsnet West

RADIO: Sportsnet Fan 960

THE MAIN STORYLINE: The Flames skate in their home opener, looking to build on a successful two-game road trip in which they fell to the Washington Capitals 5-4 in a shootout and beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. The Canucks arrive in the Stampede City after thumping the Edmonton Oilers 6-2 at home late Saturday night.

LINEUP NOTES: Calgary will ice the same lineup as in Columbus, including having Joey MacDonald in goal. MacDonald almost appeared to fall to No. 3 on the depth chart during training camp, but by coming up with the win against the Blue Jackets gets another shot. This will be the home debut for 2013 first-round draft choice Sean Monahan, who is skating on a line with Sven Baertschi – also Calder Trophy eligible and technically a rookie – and veteran Lee Stempniak. It’s also the home debut for a couple of Calgary products in TJ Galiardi and Joe Colborne.

LW Michael Camalleri (hand) and C Matt Stajan (leg) are both on the shelf.

For the Canucks, all their big guns got it going in their shellacking of the Oilers. Henrik Sedin collected three assists, Daniel Sedin netted one goal and one assist and Ryan Kesler scored once while registering nine shots on goal. Jannik Hansen is skating on a line with the Sedins while Alex Burrows is on the shelf with a foot injury and Zack Kassian is serving the third game of a five-game suspension for a pre-season incident.

The Canucks will turn to Eddie Lack in goal. Lack, the 25-year-old netminder from Sweden, will make his NHL debut.

BURNING QUESTION: Can the Flames keep the Sedins in check?

Historically, the top Canucks have feasted on Calgary. In 71 career games versus the Flames, Daniel Sedin has collected 25 goals and 73 points, while Henrik has netted 12 goals and 66 points in 73 games.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Flames C Joe Colborne, who was acquired via trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs on the eve of the season, was expected to be a third- or fourth-line player. Due to Stajan’s injury, he’s skating on a top line with Curtis Glencross and David Jones. Colborne, who admitted he was nervous in his Flames debut, his 17th career NHL game, has never played in a game at the Saddledome and expects about 50 friends and family at the game.

FAST FACT: The Flames are on a two-game losing streak in home openers, and have a 2-1-2 record when facing the Canucks in a home opener, with the most recent of those encounters a 5-3 win over Vancouver to kick off the 2009-10 season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s very exciting. The crowd’s going to be awesome. Usually they’re going against me, so it’s going to be fun to have them behind me.” — Flames forward TJ Galiardi.

On Twitter: @SunRandySportak

Flames Lines


Curtis Glencross-Joe Colborne-David Jones

TJ Galiardi-Mikael Backlund-Jiri Hudler

Sven Baertschi-Sean Monahan-Lee Stempniak

Lance Bouma-Ben Street-Brian McGrattan


TJ Brodie-Mark Giordano

Kris Russell-Dennis Wideman

Chris Butler-Shane O’Brien


Joey MacDonald

Karri Ramo

INJURED: C Matt Stajan (leg), LW Michael Cammalleri (hand).

SCRATCHES: RW Tim Jackman, D Derek Smith

Canucks Lines


Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Jannik Hansen

David Booth-Ryan Kesler-Chris Higgins

Dale Weise-Mike Santorelli-Brad Richardson

Tom Sestito-Zac Dalpie


Dan Hamhuis-Kevin Bieksa

Alexander Edler-Jason Garrison

Ryan Stanton-Christopher Tanev


Eddie Lack

Roberto Luongo

INJURED: RW Alex Burrows (foot), C Jordan Schroeder (ankle).

SCRATCHES: D Andrew Alberts

SUSPENDED: Zack Kassian

Time for Flames hopefuls to ace the test

- September 25th, 2013

Final exams.

Those are months away for university students.

For the Calgary Flames hopefuls, the time has come to ace the test for a crack at the NHL roster with Wednesday’s pre-season clash against the Phoenix Coyotes at the Saddledome (7 p.m., TSN, FAN 960).

“Not too many players, not too many coaches, in this business is your job guaranteed,” head coach Bob Hartley said after the morning skate. “You have to do it for your team, you have to do it for yourself. That’s our job. Being a professional, you have to be the best you can be, show your abilities and come in with a good working habits and playing a good game.


“For Sven (Baertschi), for Corban Knight, for (Sean) Monahan, for all those kids playing, it’s the same rule. There’s no one rule for one guy and different rules for others.”

The Flames are icing a veteran lineup, but those aforementioned players, as well as Ben Street, will be given a last look. Whether one game can make that big of a deal in the coach’s mind remains to be seen.

“It can influence it. I don’t know if it can change it,” Hartley said. “We will do what’s best for the Calgary Flames. At the same time, dealing with young players, if you can be in the top 20 players and play on a regular basis, here’s one situation, but is it better to keep a young player as our 21st, 22nd, 23rd, player on not playing him? That’s something we’ll have to look at. I’m not a big fan.”

The Flames forward lines are:

Mikael Backlund-TJ Galiardi-David Jones

Curtis Glencross-Sean Monahan-Lee Stempniak

Sven Baertschi-Matt Stajan-Ben Street

Lance Bouma-Corban Knight-Tim Jackman

On defence:

Mark Giordano-TJ Brodie

Kris Russell-Dennis Wideman

Chris Butler-Shane O’Brien

Reto Berra is due to start in net and play the whole game.

The interesting twists are Backlund playing on wing and Knight, who was always considered a centre, finally skating in the middle in a pre-season game.

“I think it’s a great experience for Backs,” Hartley said. “I said, ‘Don’t get nervous. It’s another page in your book. By playing left wing, you will see the game from another vision and it’s gonna give you a chance to maybe be a better centreman.’ ”

As for the Coyotes, veterans of note who’ll be playing include Shane Doan, Keith Yandle and Mike Ribeiro.

On Twitter: @SunRandySportak

Flames hopeful Gordon shows he’s got heart

- September 17th, 2013

The all-clear couldn’t have come at a better time for Coda Gordon.

The Calgary Flames prospect (drafted in the sixth round in 2012) was on the shelf through the first week of the main training camp because a test of his heart showed some irregularities the doctors wanted checked out.

He was given the OK Monday night and received a tap on the shoulder to skate in Tuesday’s split-squad pre-season game against the New York Islanders.

“It’s exciting, especially after the little break I had in camp, not sure if I was going to play or not,” Gordon said after the morning skate. “To get the OK and news I was going to play is pretty cool.”

Gordon, 19, who skated in the Young Stars Tournament, was kept off the ice for a few days while awaiting more tests.

“Nothing was out of the ordinary and nothing was too bad,” the product from Cochrane said of the final tests done Monday. “Once the Flames found out the news, they had me go to the Saddledome and work out. I thought I’d have a chance to play and found out today.”

The afternoon meant some quick calls to spread the word he’d play the game and then attempt to nap.

This was likely the last reasonable chance to give Gordon – who netted 17 goals and 59 points last season for the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos – a shot at pre-season action.

The Flames have two more pre-season games and are expected to assign a big group of players to the minors or their respective junior teams on Wednesday. The AHL Abbotsford Heat will open their camp Friday.

Here’s the lineups scheduled to play at the Saddledome…

Curtis Glencross-TJ Galiardi-Lee Stempniak
Paul Byron-Ben Street-Tim Jackman
Turner Elson-Markus Granlund-Coda Gordon
Lance Bouma-Roman Horak-Zach McKelvie

Mark Giordano-Chad Billins
Derek Smith-Dennis Wideman
Kris Russell-John Ramage

Joey MacDonald is slated to play the whole game in goal, with Laurent Brossoit serving as backup.

As for the Islanders, who practiced in Regina before traveling to Calgary Tuesday, here’s the roster they’ve announced.

Josh Bailey-Frans Nielsen-Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner-Peter Regin-Cal Clutterbuck
John Persson-Riley Wetmore-Chris Bruton
Kirill Kabanov-Jason Clark-Justin Johnson

Andrew MacDonald-Matt Donovan
Griffin Reinhart-Ryan Pulock
Calvin de Haan-Matt Carkner

Kevin Poulin
Anders Nilsson

A rebuilt Saddledome for a rebuilding Flames team

- September 14th, 2013

Michael Cammalleri made his way into the refurbished Calgary Flames dressing room and made his assessment of how it looked.

The same but different,” Cammalleri said. “They did a fantastic job. Everything’s new and clean and fresh. Maybe apropos for a fresh start, but at the same time, maybe a reminder for the hardship everybody went through this summer.

It’s Calgary being Calgary and Albertans being Albertans, put it back together, put it back better and get after it.”

The Flames finally moved back into their Saddledome digs Saturday, first for the morning skate and then for the split-squad pre-season game against the Edmonton Oilers.

The Saddledome suffered massive damage during the flood in late June, but was put back together well enough for the clash. Almost all of the work is done, but repairs will continue for a spell. For insurance purposes, it looks remarkably similar inside to how it looked before, just newer.

It’s amazing how quick it was done. It looks great. It seems a little brighter in here, a little more spacious,” said defenceman Mark Giordano, who recollected the pictures of the flooded building that made the rounds. “To know it’s come from that to today, it’s pretty impressive.”

The Flames are hoping the rebuilding of their home can be a metaphor for their squad.

The team is a far cry from what hit the ice when the 2012-13 season began, with the likes of Jarome Iginla, Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Tanguay traded away and Miikka Kiprusoff retiring.

Now, it’s a rebuild.

I don’t know how many times I’ve said it the last two days,” head coach Bob Hartley said. “If we just match the workers’ intensity, and especially their will … our fans will be very pleased with us and we will have a great season.”

Why not?” Cammalleri said of the concept of looking at their team the same way. “I don’t see why you wouldn’t. The city went through a very challenging time, picked itself up, built itself better and stronger, moving forward. Maybe the same holds true for the hockey club and the organization.”

As for the split squad games, here are the Flames lines for the clash in Calgary, at least to start. Hartley said he will do all kinds of mixing over the game.

Curtis Glencross-Matt Stajan-Lee Stempniak

Mike Cammalleri-Mikael Backlund-David Jones

Michael Ferland-Sean Monahan-Emile Poirier

Blair Jones-Corban Knight-Greg Nemisz

On defence:

Mark Giordano-TJ Brodie

Ryan Culkin-Shane O’Brien

Patrick Sieloff-John Ramage

Joey MacDonald will start in goal with Joni Ortio.

Notables from the Oilers lineup include Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner, David Perron, Boyd Gordon, Ryan Jones, Ladislav Smid, Justin Schultz, Nick Schultz and Jason LaBarbera starting in goal.