IT'S GO TIME
Head coach Bob Hartley knows exactly what he wants his team's identity to be: a blue collar squad.
They want to be a hard-working, dogged, determined team that pushes their opposition every shift.
"That's what I'm pushing them to be. That's what they've given us since the start of camp," the bench boss said in his post-practice media address.
"We will not change our recipe. We're going to be relentless and go and go."
In order for this style to work, every single player on the roster has to be on the same page and buy into the team system. As Hartley has said in the past, there cannot be any passengers - everyone has to possess the desire to "drive the bus."
Mikael Backlund, who has played all 170 of his NHL games in Flames silks, believes everyone in the dressing room has bought in and he is feeling very positive about the 2013-14 campaign.
"I think this is strongest group we've had since I've been here," the pivot told CalgaryFlames.com. "I feel really good about this season, this group - we've bonded, had some fun during training camp and worked really hard too."
MONAHAN SR. IN THE STANDS
Sean Monahan's dad, John, will be at the Verizon Center tonight to watch his son skate in his first NHL game and the younger Monahan is thrilled that his father could fly in from Brampton, ON for the occasion.
"It's huge. He's supported me his whole career. My dream has been to play in the NHL so to have him here for my first game, it's going to be great. I think he's going to have a great day.
"He always gives me advice. He talk a lot and I think he's a big help for me."
Monahan's family is based in Brampton and he also has some in Newfoundland; he expects all of them will be tuning in to tonight's broadcast.
"I'm going to be happy to talk to them after the game."
PRE-GAME SKATES MANDATORY
Last year, Hartley deemed pre-game skates optional due to the truncated schedule. That will not be the case this season.
"There's no more options," Hartley stated. "The options when to work and when not to work are over. Last year, I did this with this group and as a coaching staff we felt it was a disaster. Some guys didn't use it with common sense.
"We're paid to play and we're paid to love this game. If you don't love this game, maybe we don't want you on this team."
The Washington Capitals possess an incredibly potent power play, which was on display on Tuesday night in Chicago; they scored three of their four goals against the Blackhawks with the man advantage.
The Flames coaching staff was not happy with some of the pre-season penalties their charges took and have spoke to the players at length about avoiding the sin bin.
"When you have a Green, a Backstrom, a Ovechkin and all those great players around, that's a recipe for disaster. For the past few days, we've talked about this," Hartley noted.
"We want to play a blue collar type game - on your toes, in their face. But at the same time, not being stupid. Whoever will take stupid penalties will be sitting. It's as simple as this."
CAMMALLERI INJURY UPDATE
The Flames will be without Mike Cammalleri tonight as the winger is out with an upper body injury. At his first evaluation, it seemed as if the malady wouldn't keep him out of the season opener but things have not progressed the way the team's medical staff would have liked.
Right now, there is no new timeline set for the winger to return to the lineup.
"I can't give [you] that because I didn't get any news but obviously, I'm disappointed because from the time of the injury, I remember that I told you guys it would be a matter of days," Hartley said.
"He's not good and whenever he'll be good to go, he'll be in the lineup."
CAPITALS ROSTER INFO
It appears the Capitals will ice the same lineup that they used in Chicago on Tuesday night. Here are their projected lines:
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin
Brooks Laich - Mikhail Grabovski - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Eric Fehr - Joel Ward
Martin Erat - Michael Latta - Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner - Mike Green
John Erskine - John Carlson
Jack Hillen - Connor Carrick
"Earned, never given. That goes everything from now on in this organization." - Hartley on the message the team was given at the start of training camp
The Flames fly to Ohio right after tonight's game as they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tomorrow. The game starts at 5:00 PM MST and is being broadcast on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The FAN.
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