HUDLER QUIETLY TIED FOR LEAGUE LEAD IN SCORING
As you scan the NHL's scoring leaders list, you can see a few of the usual suspects near the top. Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Daniel Sedin, Phil Kessel.
And then, right at the top, tied for the lead in scoring, is Jiri Hudler.
The Flames winger has put together a five-game point streak to start the season, registering 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) in that span. He has been a threat game-in and game-out, and has provided the Flames with an incredibly tenacious forecheck.
"I don't exactly know where Jiri was in our fitness testing but he was way up there. It starts from this. And then just give him the puck," head coach Bob Hartley said.
"I think he's our offensive motor. His vision, his experience obviously serves this young team very well. He's a fun guy to work with. He's obviously a big contributor on the ice and he takes care of the kids."
While Hudler is pleased with his play thus far, he directs any praise sent his way back towards the team.
"We're playing well as a team. We have a lot of energy. It's a lot of fun to play like this. I think the fans are excited as well. There has been a lot of talking about the rebuilding and stuff but everyone has bought in. We work hard."
Also in the NHL top ten in scoring is captain Mark Giordano who has 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists) in 5 games.
HOTEL LIFE OVER FOR MONAHAN
Earlier in the summer, Sean Monahan's place of residence was a hotel room but that isn't the case anymore. The 19-year-old was offered a room in the Hudler household at the beginning of the season and the veteran is loving having the rookie in his home.
"It's a lot of fun. He eats a lot, that's for sure," Hudler grinned.
"I've liked him since I met him in training camp. He's a good guy. He's an honest person and fun to be around too. He's funny. He makes me laugh. I'm glad that he's on the team ... we're playing pool and we're talking about hockey all the time."
Hudler is having so much fun with Monahan that the youngster might have his stay may have to be extended.
"He might stay there for a year. He doesn't know that yet."
When Hudler was rookie in Detroit, his command of the English language was shaky at best and he was in the process of acclimatizing to living in North America. He was fortunate enough to room with a veteran and understands how important it can be for a young player.
"I lived in Robert Lang's basement for a couple of months. His kids were jumping at 7 in the morning on my bed, every day ... it's a lot of fun. It's the same with Mony."
BACKLUND MISSES PRACTICE
"Just minor bruises," Hartley noted.
Backlund was on for the marathon third period shift on Friday night, when the Flames were hemmed in by the Devils but were throwing their bodies to the ice to keep pucks away from Joey MacDonald. Backlund was one of the players who provided a huge block for his club in that sequence.
"We have lots of goalies," the bench boss chuckled. "We will have to call the NHL and the NHL [will have to add] a few names. We have a few guys who are bumped but Backs is nothing serious.
"He should be on the ice on Monday morning."
STEMPNIAK DRAWS PRAISE FROM COACHING STAFF
Much like Hudler, veteran Lee Stempniak is quietly putting together a heck of a start to the 2013-14 season. The 30-year-old has 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) in his first 5 games of the year, sitting fourth in team scoring.
Hartley has placed Stempniak on a line with Monahan and Sven Baertschi in several games, which has been an extremely productive trio for the team, and has been an excellent role model for the youngsters in the locker room.
"Stempy is the ultimate team guy," Hartley raved. "He's the ultimate pro. I can use him in offensive roles, I can use in defensive roles. He is a real smart hockey player."
"Him and Wides are definitely two of our leaders and two guys that starting from day one of training camp, they were totally different players for us." - Hartley on the changes he has seen in Hudler and Dennis Wideman and the leadership roles they have taken on
The Flames host the first Fur Babies Fair at the Scotiabank Saddledome (Avison Young Club entrance) on Sunday in support of the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS). The event's aim is to raise awareness and funds for AARCS and will feature some of the players, the Flames Better Halves and their pets. There will be limited opportunities to get autographs and photos taken with the players.
There will also be a few adoptable animals on site on Sunday. Dogs are welcome but must be on-leash.
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