MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
On Friday morning, Flames rookie Sven Baertschi alternated with Steve Bégin on a line at practice and the reaction was swift. Despite the fact head coach Bob Hartley did not confirm the youngster would sit, many members of the media speculated the young winger would not be in the lineup tonight.
It turns out all of that theorizing was for nothing.
"There was no decision on Sven. Some of you guys made the decision," the bench boss said in his post-practice scrum. "Many people cut way too many trees in this area for nothing."
The Bern, SUI native confirmed that he will play tonight after practice and that his family has flown in from Switzerland to watch the game.
"They’ve been great support since I left Switzerland, since I went to Portland. They always have my back for everything and help me out with everything. I think those people are the reason why it went so well. A big thanks to them and now they’re here and I’m excited about and it gives me extra energy here."
Baertschi, who scored three goals in a five-game cup of coffee with the Flames last year, has yet to find the back of the net but has shown flashes of his high-end skill in all three games this year. Expectations are high for the Flames 2011 first round draft pick but Hartley anticipated seeing the 20 year-old go through an adjustment period.
"(Last year) he was like an amusement park. He knew there was zero pressure, he was not fighting for a job, he could not stay in Calgary ... this year, it's a different story," Hartley said. "This year, it's a full-time learning experience. It's not a one-shot deal. There is going to be ups and downs like there was with Guy Lafleur, Joe Sakic, with many, many great young players."
GETTING OUT OF THE GATES QUICKLY
In their first three games of the season, the Edmonton Oilers haven't fared well in the opening stanza. They have been outscored 7-1 in the first period while being outshot 38-29. On the flip side, the Flames are 3-3 in goals scored in the first frame and their shot total has matched their opponents 28-28.
Being able to capitalize on a potential slow start from the Oilers could very well be the key to victory for the home team.
"It will be crucial," Jones stated. "It's a big game for us. There is a lot at stake and while being able to have a good start is something you want in every game, it's especially important tonight."
The Flames kicked off the season with an incredibly dominant effort in the first period against the San Jose Sharks. That kind of jump is what the team is looking for tonight but they cannot take their foot off the gas pedal if they get out to an early lead.
"We need to sustain that pressure throughout the whole game," Jones cautioned, referencing the Flames final 40 minutes against the Sharks in which San Jose scored four unanswered goals.
Another key to the game will be staying out of the penalty box. While the Flames power play is off to a blazing start this year, their penalty kill hasn't seen the same kind of success as its special teams counterpart. Calgary has allowed three goals on 12 shots, placing them 21st in penalty killing. On home ice, they've allowed two goals on eight shots whilst short-handed.
The Oilers are ranked 15th overall in the NHL with the man advantage, connecting on 22.2 per cent of their opportunities. On the road, they sit 10th with a 25 per cent success rate.
"They certainly have a lot of skill up front," Jones said. "We have to stay out of the box. We have to be very conscious of where guys are at on the ice and make sure we're making it a hard game for their skilled guys."
HUDLER SENDS KIPPER'S MASK FLYING
Everyone on the ice immediately stopped to see if the netminder was alright but the Finn just shrugged it off, waving his teammates on to continue with the drill after he put the mask back on.
"He's a tough guy," Jarome Iginla said with a smile. "He wants you to shoot to score on him and he doesn't mind that. It makes guys better and it makes him better."
ROCKING THE RETROS
Tonight will be the first of seven games where the Flames will wear their retro jerseys. The other six dates are as follows: Feb. 2 vs. Chicago, Feb. 23 vs. Minnesota, Feb. 24 vs. Phoenix, Mar. 3 vs. Vancouver, Apr. 3 vs. Edmonton and Apr. 10 vs. Vancouver.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I played a long time against Jiri and (saw) how competitive and skilled and crafty he is. It's going to be great to have him in our lineup. Roman, I've heard great things. We haven't had much of a chance to see him. We've been playing and he's been skating before us. I'm really excited to get to see him play and be part of our group." - Iginla on Hudler and Roman Cervenka dressing for tonight's tilt
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Mikael Backlund needs 2 points for 50.
Alex Tanguay needs 2 assists for 500.
Mark Giordano needs 2 assists for 100.
Curtis Glencross needs 2 assists for 100.
Michael Cammalleri needs 3 goals for 200.
Curtis Glencross needs 4 goals for 100.
Lee Stempniak needs 4 assists for 150.
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