CHALLENGING THE CHAMPS
The Calgary Flames are set to host the defending Stanley Cup champions at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday.
Mike Cammalleri plans on being overly hospitable to the Chicago Blackhawks, though.
“As an athlete, as a team, you have that pride where you want to play the best and you want to beat the best no matter where you are,” he said. “That’s the challenge the Blackhawks have to face most nights. Whenever you’re on a top team, everyone wants a bite at you. That’ll be the case for us [Wednesday] night.”
Chicago has a league-best 38 points this season and are 8-2-0 in their past 10 games heading into Calgary. They’ve also scored a league-high 92 goals.
“They’re on top of the league for one reason,” coach Bob Hartley said. “It’s a nice challenge for us. We’re playing better. There are many parts of our game that are improving. It’s going to be a good test. I think it’s a good gauge for us.”
Kris Russell, who scored the overtime winner in a 3-2 victory in the only meeting between the two clubs on November 3rd, feels he knows the winning formula against the Blackhawks.
“We’ve got to be smart with our puck decisions," he said. "We’ve got to keep the game really simple, get pucks deep on them, protect the puck when we have it. They’re a team that has high puck percentages. They control the game when they have the puck. We’ve got to try to take it out of their hands as much as possible.”
BACK TO BERRA
Reto Berra helped the Flames take two points in Chicago the last time the two teams met, making 42 saves in what doubled as his NHL debut.
He’ll shoot for a similar result on Wednesday.
“At home here, it’s going to be a different game,” Berra said. “I just go like the others games, just try to focus on my job and just try to give the team a chance to win like I did in Chicago. I’m excited.”
The start will be Berra’s 10th in 11 games since being recalled from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League. Russell's liked what he's seen playing in front of the 26-year-old rookie thus far.
“He’s played well,” Russell said. “He’s made the stops he’s had to. There have been times we’ve left him out to dry there. That falls on the players, not him. He’s been good. I think he’s been consistent.”
BACK BOTHERING GALIARDI
Chances are slim that Hartley will have TJ Galiardi at his disposal against Chicago.
The 25-year-old left practice on Monday with back spasms and wasn’t on the ice on Tuesday. In fact, Galiardi didn’t even make it down to the rink, according to the Flames’ coach.
“He’s at home,” Hartley said. “He’s still seized up. Right now he feels like an old Chevy 1958. He’s totally seized up.
“Our medical staff went home to see him. (He’s) tangled up like a pretzel.”
“As a coaching staff, you certainly don’t want to look at this that way but if you’re not ready against those teams, you’re going to get a major spanking. That’s the way it is. I think it brings the best out of everyone but over here, we’re cultivating a new culture and we want everyone good every night. I think that there’s no easy games in the NHL and you need to be ready for every game.”
-Hartley on his club getting up for the Blackhawks
After a four day break from game action, the Flames will host the Blackhawks at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday (8 p.m. MT, TSN).
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