FACING HIS OLD TEAM
On Wednesday, head coach Bob Hartley announced Reto Berra will start in net on Thursday against the St. Louis Blues, the team that drafted him in the fourth round of the 2006 NHL Draft.
It will be the third straight start for the Swiss netminder, who picked up his first NHL win on Sunday in Chicago when he made 42 saves in a 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks. He suited up last night in Minnesota, allowing 5 goals on 24 shots but those numbers don't speak to the netminder's play. Berra had almost no chance on the goals the Wild scored against him and made several big stops throughout the game.
"Last night, you could have taped three or four Hall of Famers together and we would have still lost that game," head coach Bob Hartley said. "There was no way he could have done anything on any of those goals. We want to build him up just like we did with Karri [Ramo] and [Joey MacDonald].
"We feel that with the day off today, it's a good spot to put him back."
Berra was acquired in the Jay Bouwmeester trade this past spring.
A MILESTONE NIGHT IN MINNESOTA
Last night, Chad Billins suited up for his first NHL game and while the 5-1 setback to the Wild wasn't the result he was looking for, he was still basking in the excitement of making his debut.
"It was an unbelievable experience," he told CalgaryFlames.com. "When you first get on the ice, you're pretty nervous but after you get a shift under your belt, you just have to stick to what got you this far.
"It was really exciting. I got a good sleep tonight and it's a new day tomorrow."
Billins' parents and brothers traveled in from Wisconsin to watch him play on Tuesday and, like a lot of travelers leaving Minnesota, had their plans waylaid by the snowstorm that hit St. Paul late last night.
"I got to visit with them for 10 or 15 minutes last night. It was awesome to see them and share that moment with them. I'm so happy they were able to make it out.
"They're still battling traveling arrangements to get back [home]. Their plane got delayed and then they missed their connection. They're running on a little bit of sleep but it was all worth it."
INJURIES FORCE ADJUSTMENTS
The Flames lost another veteran on Tuesday when Curtis Glencross suffered a lower body injury in St. Paul, MN. The winger has flown back to Calgary to be evaluated and won't be available for the remaining two games of the road trip.
However, having key players out of the lineup opens the door for others to step into new roles and take on more responsibility.
The team has also recalled forward Max Reinhart from the Abbotsford Heat. The 21-year-old is off to a great start to the year, posting 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) in 13 games.
"We challenge everyone," Hartey said. "In our dressing room, we say, 'Find another gear.' That's what we're asking. That's what we're preaching to those guys. Our identity is to be hard working, to be relentless. I feel everyone has given us this.
"Players deserve lots of credit. Obviously we're not where we want to be, we have lots of work still to do. But at the same time, I don't think that we can fault the effort."
The Flames line combos at practice today are as follows:
Bouma - Stajan - Jones
Cammalleri - Colborne - Galiardi
Jackman - Monahan - Hudler
Baertschi - Backlund - McGrattan
Hartley noted he wasn't sure what his lineup will look like tomorrow night and a decision on Reinhart slotting in has not been made yet.
Defenceman Shane O'Brien missed practice in St. Louis due to illness but he is expected to play tomorrow night.
"Here's a 166-pound, wet-to-bone, defenceman and he's playing like [he is] 6-foot-3. He hits, he blocks shots, he joins the play, he quarterbacks, with Wides, our power play. I can't ask any more of this guy. He gives us everything he's got every game." - Hartley on blueliner Kris Russell
The Flames take on the St. Louis Blues at 6:00 PM MST on Sportsnet Flames. Sportsnet 960 The FAN will carry the radio broadcast. Right after the battle with the Blues, the Flames will fly to Denver to prepare for their game against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday evening.
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