SIZING UP THE COMPETITION
Coach Bob Hartley knows his team is in for a big test when the Calgary Flames embark on a five-game, 10-day road trip through California with additional stops in Phoenix and Dallas.
The trip starts out against three of the bigger teams in the National Hockey League and the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Joe Thornton and Anze Kopitar down the middle. The trio averages out at 6-foot-4, 222-pounds.
“I wish that we could tumble them in the dryer for 30 minutes and get them to shrink, but that won’t happen,” Hartley said. “We need to play the game the way it is. We got bigger too and I think we’re seeing some positive results out of this.
“They are great teams. There are some franchise players on those teams and that’s the reason why they’re successful. We’re making strides that way and we’re going to keep working them. Our main focus is on our players and on our team right now.”
The road trip will be Sean Monahan’s first opportunity to go up against the three perennial all-stars.
He’s not intimidated, though.
“I think you’ve got to play your own game and stick with the system of the team,” Monahan said. “Obviously you want to compete every shift and play a full 60 minutes. You’re out there to win games and I’m going to do whatever I can to help my team win.”
HALTING THE STREAK
Monahan hopes to help give the Flames their first victory in Anaheim in nearly a decade.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound pivot was just nine years old when Calgary chalked up a 5-1 victory over the Ducks on January 19, 2004 -- their last in ‘The Heart of Orange County’.
“I never knew that so that’d be cool to get a win there,” he said.
“Those are great facts for [media] to write stories,” Hartley said. “Sean Monahan is probably not aware of this. Karri Ramo probably doesn’t care. Sven Baertschi was probably not born the last time we won in Anaheim.
“I never coach a game looking at past records because for me, it has no value. I think it makes great stories, but from a coach, I’m not starting to get in the room and saying ‘Six years ago on this day we beat that team' or 'We got beat by that team’. We live in the present.”
RETURN OF THE MAC
Joey MacDonald, making his fifth consecutive start for the Flames Wednesday against the Ducks, is tasked with breaking the streak.
The Flames’ coach has seen no reason to switch back to Karri Ramo, who hasn’t started since Calgary’s season opener against the Washington Capitals.
“Right now, we’re on a roll,” Hartley said. “We feel that Joey is good, we’re playing good with Joey, we’re playing good in front of Joey.
“Why make a change? It’s nothing against Karri. After every game, it might change. We didn’t tell Joey MacDonald he’s the No. 1, we didn’t tell Karri Ramo he’s the No. 2 and we certainly didn’t tell Reto Berra he’s No. 3. We’re just going to go day-by-day. You play well, you give use a chance to win, you’re playing.”
MacDonald, who is 3-0-1 on the season with a 2.98 goals against average and .897 save percentage, has welcomed the opportunity.
“I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” the 33-year-old said. “I’m keeping it simple, not thinking too much. The guys have been doing a great job in front of me, battling, blocking shots last game, diving in front. As a goalie, you love seeing that and it makes my job a lot easier, too.”
GALIARDI BACK IN SJ
The Flames’ five-game road swing will see Flames forward TJ Galiardi return to San Jose on Saturday for the first time since being acquired from the Sharks in the offseason.
The 25-year-old said he’d worry about facing his old teammates when the times comes.
“If you’re focusing on games already ahead of ones you haven’t played yet, you’re going to get yourself in trouble,” Galiardi said. “I’m worrying about Anaheim first.”
Still, the game will have special significance for the Calgary product, who has a goal and two assists in five games this season.
“I played there for a while so you get a little bit more motivation to play against them,” he admitted.
“I keep in touch with a few of the boys. When you play somewhere for a while, you make some friendships that even if you’re on another team, you’re still friends with them.”
“They’re going to be huge. We had a great start and we’re excited about it, but this is going to be a real big test playing the top teams in our division right now. They all have great records and are hard-working teams, hard to play against so it’s going to be a good challenge for us to handle.”
-Mikael Backlund on the upcoming road trip.
The Flames open up their five-game road trip at the Honda Center against the Anaheim Ducks (8 p.m. MT, TSN).
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