BERRA SET TO MAKE HIS NHL DEBUT
Reto Berra, who was recalled on Saturday morning, will make his NHL debut tonight at the United Center in Chicago.
"Reto will start," head coach Bob Hartley said. "I sat down with Reto as soon as we landed yesterday. He was already at the hotel with Chad Billins. I had a great talk. He's going to get his first NHL start."
Tonight's game marks the first outing on a four-game road swing for the Flames and the Blackhawks may pose the biggest challenge for Calgary. However, after speaking with the netminder and getting an idea of how he was feeling about the possibility of suiting up at the United Center, Hartley felt Berra was the right choice in net.
"I know of Reto because of my Swiss connections. This guy was probably the biggest free agent in the Swiss league and he didn't even sign any contracts over there, did any deals. His mindset was to play in the NHL. He came here for a reason and that's why he's in for tonight's game.
"He wants to play and I'll never try to hold back a thoroughbred. This guy loves to play and with his team in Switzerland, he basically played 50 games out of 50. Back-to-backs every weekend. He was real strong. I don't see why we wouldn't put him in tonight's game."
Hartley was also quick to point out that this wasn't a one-shot deal for Berra.
"When I sat with him yesterday, I told him, 'I don't put all my chips on the table right now.' He's going to get many starts."
Berra played nine games with the Abbotsford Heat this year. He went 4-3-1 with the Heat, posting 2.66 GAA and a .908 save percentage.
"We want to give a shot to Jacks," Hartley explained. "We're playing on the road so I want to try to bring a little bit more emotion on the road, see where that will take us."
BILLINS TO WAIT TO MAKE NHL DEBUT
Defenceman Chad Billins, another recent call-up, will not be in the lineup tonight but didn't rule out the possibility of him drawing in later in the road trip.
"We have a great reports on Chad from Troy and Robbie in Abbotsford ... so far, we can't say our blueline has been a disappointment. Those guys have played, I think, fairly consistent. I told him, 'Be ready. You never know. I can't promise you any starts but we called you so be ready.'"
Billins currently leads the Abbotsford Heat in goals scored with 5 through 10 games. Of his 5 markers, 4 have come on the power play.
"Every time I've talked about the goalies, I've always said that we had three goalies. I'm not going to change my lines today. One of the three goalies is in for tonight." - Hartley on the Flames goaltending situation
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Tim Jackman needs 4 games for 400.
Shane O'Brien needs 4 games for 500.
Dennis Wideman needs 6 games for 600.
TJ Galiardi needs 8 points for 100.
VS. THE BLACKHAWKS
All-time vs. the Blackhawks: 61-63-26-5
All-time vs. the Blackhawks in Chicago: 26-36-13-2
Last 10 games vs. the Blackhawks: 3-6-0-1
Last 10 games vs. the Blackhawks: 0-9-1-0
Tonight's game is being broadcast at 5:30 PM MST on Sportsnet West with Rob Kerr providing play-by-play and Charlie Simmer providing colour commentary. Sportsnet 960 The FAN will carry the radio coverage with play-by-play from Peter Maher and colour commentary from Peter Peter Loubardias.
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