PACE CONTINUES TO PICK UP
Two days of on-ice action in the books, and both veterans and Calgary Flames hopefuls alike are starting to feel the workout in the legs.
Friday's sessions continued where Thursday's left, having simultaneous scrimmages and practices going on opposite rinks. Team C (Peplinski) picked up a 2-0 win over Team B (McCrimmon) in the day's opening game, but Team B (McCrimmon) rebounded to trump Team A (McDonald) 5-1.
All the action has limbs a little stiff, according to Matt Stajan.
"The legs are a little sore, a little tight in the hips, but that's usual for training camp," Stajan said. "Now we get to play some games tomorrow. The fun starts now. You can't feel sorry for anybody. We've all done the same workload. You've got to push."
In his first professional camp, Ben Hanowski admitted he wasn't sure exactly what to expect.
"It's intense," Hanowski said. "There's a lot of guys fighting and trying to show what they can do and what they can bring to the table. It's been a lot of fun. You get into these games and guys are competing. It's been really intense, maybe a little more intense than you think right away. It's been a good two days so far."
That intensity and hard work will result in plenty of benefits, though.
"A couple weeks down the road we'll be happy with the work we've put in here because we'll feel that much better," Stajan added. "We're all in this together."
It's the exact identity coach Bob Hartley wants to install on his club.
It's time to get to work.
"We want to be a blue collar team," Hartley said. "No disrespect to anyone in our organization but at this time today, I don't think that we have a franchise player. We don't have a Sidney Crosby, but at the same time, 20 guys who go on a sheet of ice with a firm intention of playing their best game at the same time, you can do a lot, you can achieve a lot."
He needs his team working like so many that rallied around the flooding of Southern Alberta in June.
"This city after the flood, they regrouped, rolled up their sleeves, put on the hard hats and went to work. That's what I told them. I think that the city of Calgary gave a great lesson of life to Canada, North America, the rest of the world how quickly they turned around this is a beautiful city.
"I think we can achieve a lot, but we have to work as a team."
WIDE OPEN ROSTER
The team Hartley has at his disposal remains unknown, but what is clear is that the Calgary coach has let his players know that if they're skating in camp, they're a consideration for the Flames' opening night roster.
"Everyone at this camp has a chance," Hartley said. "That's the message that we gave everyone. We're evaluating them on basically a shift-by-shift basis."
Meaning the door is open to those that are deserving.
"We're not going to give exhibition games to someone who doesn't deserve it and at the same time, we won't let anybody go who deserves to stay here," Hartley said.
MONAHAN DRAWING PRAISE
The 18-year-old has been solid at both ends of the ice as he makes his bid to earn a roster spot in his first training camp.
"You can tell just by talking to him, by watching him that once you give him a mandate, he wants to do it as a pro," Hartley said. "I think that that's huge. Usually, first-year kids coming at camp, they're still lots of kid left in them and that makes the beauty of it and then you can start judging their progression usually in their second camp. With Sean, we can already see a really good progression, a good understanding of the game."
Stajan, who has twice gone up against Monahan in intra-squad play, is impressed with the sixth overall pick from 2013.
"He looks good," Stajan said. "He's a big kid, he's a little shy so far but I think today he scored a nice goal, showed his hands in front of the net, tucked a few nice goals in that second game. Playing in the middle against him, he does the little things right, lifting the stick and he's a little sneaky. As a centreman, you have to be. He's got a bright future and he's getting better and better every day and as he gets confidence, he'll keep getting better."
GOALIE BATTLE CONTINUES
The fight for Calgary's crease continues and will only intensify when the Flames set out for a pair of split-squad preseason games against the Edmonton Oilers.
And while intra-squad games still count, it's the exhibition bouts that have Hartley interested.
"Obviously, exhibition games, you're playing against someone who wears a different colour of jersey than you, so I think it's motivation and on the competitive side, it should bring the best out of everyone," he said. "But, at the same time, we have such a big decision to make regarding our goaltending that those inter-squad games, they mean a lot. Every time we're on the ice, it's business. We're tabulating the shots. We're tabulating the save percentage, the goals-against.
"We're keeping an eye on everything but, obviously, the more that camp will progress, every time we'll step on the ice, it will mean even more.”
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