CALGARY, AB -- Joe Colborne may have lightened Mikael Backlund’s wallet a little bit, but it was locker room attendant Ben Dumaine who made the only Swede on the Calgary Flames roster pay the biggest price.
Backlund was sporting a Hockey Canada t-shirt post-practice on Sunday, the result of a bet struck Saturday over lunch between he and Dumaine.
“This wasn’t Joe; we had some cash going” said Backlund, looking the shirt. “This was with Benny. I was hoping he would have to wear a Team Sweden jersey on the bench but I guess it didn’t happen.”
Jonathan Toews’ first period marker held up as the eventual winner after Carey Price made 24 saves to earn the shutout in the eventual 3-0 Canadian win to capture Olympic gold. Sidney Crosby added his first of the tournament late in the second period while Chris Kunitz capped the scoring in the third to give Canada their second consecutive first-place finish at the tournament.
It also gave Dumaine bragging rights over the 24-year-old native of Vasteras, SWE.
“He said if Sweden won, I’d have to wear a stinky Sweden shirt he had lying around his house for a whole week,” Dumaine detailed. “I said, ‘Okay, you can wear my Canada shirt all week’. Luckily it worked out for me. I told him he had to wear it for interviews and all the time in the room.”
A gracious winner, Dumaine made sure the Canadian garment was freshly pressed.
“I was being a nice guy,” he said. “I knew he was going to have to wear it for a week.”
“McGrattan and Glencross skated this morning,” coach Bob Hartley said. “Things are looking up. We’re getting healthy but at the same time, you know how this business operates.”
Glencross has missed 22 games after sustaining a high ankle sprain just 37 seconds into Calgary’s 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 21. The 31-year-old has had a trying season on the injury front. He also missed 15 games earlier in the year with a second degree MCL sprain.
McGrattan, meanwhile, was injured in practice on Thursday after catching a rut on the ice, sending him crashing hard into the end boards.
Hartley wasn’t sure if either would be an option when the Flames resume their schedule against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s too early to say.”
CALGARY, AB -- Just a few minutes into Calgary Flames practice at Stew Hendry Arena, defenseman TJ Brodie brought action to a shattering halt.
Skating around and firing pucks to loosen up before practice officially got underway, Brodie sent a seemingly harmless wrister over the net, sending a single pane of glass into thousands of pieces as teammates roared and tapped their sticks in approval.
A sheepish Brodie admitted to being the culprit back at Scotiabank Saddledome following the skate.
“It wasn’t on purpose but too bad it wasn’t a little later in practice to get a little break,” he said.
But after the break in glass -- which was subsequently replaced by a sheet of wood -- Brodie wasn’t ready to boast about having the heaviest shot on Calgary’s blue line.
“Definitely not,” he said. “I think it was just the spot I hit. It was cold in there too so I’m sure that helped.”
The Saskatchewan Roughriders or the Hamilton Tiger-Cats?
Unbiased Hamilton, ON product Brian McGrattan had the answer.
“Hamilton, for sure,” he said. “It’d be great to see them win.”
“I said 34-20 yesterday.”
That’s a result Joe Colborne could live with. The Calgary native isn’t overly fond of his provincial neighbours.
“I refuse to cheer for the Riders,” he said. “I’m cheering for the East.
“When I went out to Notre Dame (to play midget), I was one of two or three Stampeders fans. It was painful. Every day someone was wearing Riders gear. I can’t cheer for them. I can’t do it.
“I would cheer for the (Edmonton) Eskimos before the Riders and that’s saying something because I hate Edmonton. Riders fans are so obnoxious. It’s hard to deal with. I think they thrive on that.”
That attitude might land the 23-year-old in hot water with coach Bob Hartley, though.
After the Ticats roughed up his Montreal Alouettes in the East final, Hartley is throwing his support behind the West’s Riders.
“Riders, Riders, I love the Riders,” Hartley said. “My Alouettes didn’t make it on the East side, so I’ll rally to the Western boys.”
Sean Monahan might challenge the throne in Calgary.
Though Berra has stopped 10 of 14 opposing shooters in two shootout victories this week, Monahan went 2-for-2 on opposing goalies in the same span - nabbing the extra point with both shootout winners for the Flames in each contest.
What would happen if the irresistible force meets an immovable object? Could the shooter beat the stopper?
Monahan wasn’t sure.
“I don’t know, Berra’s a good goalie,” he said. “He’s big and he’s quick. It’d be tough. You’ve got to read goalies and I think it’s tough to figure him out in that instance. I don’t know what would happen.”
The 6-foot-4 keeper felt he knew the answer.
“I have to say I’d probably stop him,” he said. “I think I would beat him.”
Baertschi was quick to weigh in, throwing support behind his countryman.
“You really put me on the spot here,” Baertschi said. “It’s tough to say. I’d probably go with Berra.
“I mean, Monny had two goals with the same move. I don’t know if he can pull any other moves out. That’s the thing. I don’t know if he can stickhandle and pull a nice move on Berra. Right now, Berra would probably be ready for that shot.”
Coach Bob Hartley was a little more scientific, and diplomatic, in his approach to answering the question.
“Usually, percentages the goalies always have the edge because you miss the net, hit the post, it still counts as a no-goal,” he said. “The pressure’s always on the shooter. On a one-shot (scenario), it could go either way."
The notion piqued Hartley’s curiousity though, promising a showdown to determine shootout supremacy.
“We’ll do it at practice on Monday.”
CALGARY, AB -- Bob Hartley is going back to Reto Berra.
And it’s the right crease call.
A day after the Calgary Flames goaltender allowed three goals in a six-minute span -- including one from below the goal line -- that pulled the Edmonton Oilers from a 2-0 deficit into their first win in six games, Hartley gave Berra vote of confidence by announcing him as the starter for Monday’s tilt against the Winnipeg Jets.
“Obviously we all saw the third goal and I sat with him,” Hartley said. “It’s a mental challenge for him also. I felt that he played very well, gave us a chance. He was not overly busy but in the second period he made two, three pads saves at the other end and I felt that he was sharp.”
The stats may say otherwise. Berra allowed three goals on 23 shots as the Flames fell for a fifth consecutive game. The 6-foot-4 goaltender has been tagged with four of those losses.
But working Berra through his struggles as he adapts to both North American ice and the National Hockey League is essential for his development.
“Even though he’s 26 years old, there’s still a lack of experience at this level,” Hartley said. “He’s learning too, but he’s working and giving us a chance to play and I like everything I see out of him.”
The numbers may not reflect it, but he’s right.
In his six starts, Berra has recorded a save percentage of .900 or better just twice -- his debut against the Chicago Blackhawks (.955) on November 3rd and Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks (.914). In both contests, Berra singlehandedly stole points for Calgary.
Throwing him up against the Jets shows that Hartley thinks Berra can do it again.
And might just give Berra the confidence he can, too.