The Calgary Flames have tested themselves against some of the Western Conference's most desperate teams trying to plunk themselves into a playoff position.
Friday will feature a challenge of a different sort, welcoming one of the NHL's elite teams in the Anaheim Ducks.
The Ducks are currently third league-wide with 60 points and are just two wins away from clinching a Pacific Division title.
"They're a good team. They're at the top of the conference," Matt Stajan said. "They've got a lot of fire power so we've got to be ready. This is going to be a good challenge for us to see where we stand against one of the best teams in the league."
The challenge for defenceman Cory Sarich comes with the size Anaheim possesses.
"They're just a big, physical team. They're well-rounded," Sarich said. "They've got big guys all over that have skill and that makes them an effective team. We've got to try to spend a lot less time in our end."
IN'S AND OUT'S
While Sarich will patrol Calgary's blueline against the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan, Dennis Wideman will not.
Wideman will miss his first game of the season with an upper-body injury. Anton Babchuk will draw in.
"I feel it's minor," coach Bob Hartley said. "It should be probably just for tonight's game so Babchuk is in."
Steve Begin, who didn't skate in practice yesterday, will also miss the game.
"Manicure," said Hartley. "Working on his hands."
Cundari will not play Friday but will join the Flames on the team's final road trip of the season. The trip will mark his first opportunity in the NHL.
"It's great. Obviously I've never had one before," Cundari said. "It's good to finally be in an organization where they appreciate what I bring to the table and I'm looking forward to showing this team, the fans, the entire city what I do here."
The 5-foot-10, 200-pound defenceman was acquired as part of the deal that sent Jay Bouwmeester to the St. Louis Blues.
"It's obviously an honor to get traded for a guy like Jay Bouwmeester, obviously one of the best defencemen in the league," Cundari said. "For me, huge shoes to fill. I don't think I'm going to fill them on my own but I'm definitely going to do my best to take advantage."
KIPPER CLOSES OUT
In Calgary's final home date of the regular season, Miikka Kiprusoff will get the nod between the pipes.
Uncertain about his future, it could be Kiprusoff's last start at Scotiabank Saddledome.
"Whether it's his last game or not, I think he deserves standing ovations all over the place all the time," Stajan said. "He's won so many games for this hockey club. Wednesday he basically stole that game for us. It's nothing new for us, but he deserves the appreciation he gets for the rest of his life."
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau can relate to the situation. Teemu Selanne has spent many a summer weighing his future.
"It's the same as Teemu for every year for the last 15 years," Boudreau joked. "He's got to think about it. It's hard. You love the game and players love the game and want to play. I know too many guys that you have to kick them out of the game to stay out of the game. I don't know Kipper at all, but he's played a long time. I think he'll want to play."
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