Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Kings

News and notes from the Flames morning skate at the Scotiabank Saddledome

Thursday, 27.02.2014 / 2:49 PM
Jason Johnson  - CalgaryFlames.com (@jay__jo)

BACK AFTER A LONG BREAK

The Flames return to game action tonight after a 19 day hiatus and hope they can continue right where they left off.

Calgary is currently riding a five game home winning streak and have been victorious in six of their last eight games. Captain Mark Giordano believes a quick start in tonight’s contest against the Kings is the key.

“I think the biggest challenge is going to be to get into it as quickly as possible,” the blueliner said after the morning skate at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday. “Short shifts are going to be huge in the game. I think there’s going to be a lot of energy but just trying to make simple, crisp plays is important. “

Flames coach Bob Hartley agreed with Giordano and said the slow starts were evident in a few NHL games last night.

“For anyone who watched last night’s games the starts were kind of sloppy which is understandable,” Hartley said. “As much as we practiced hard and covered systems—we did a full review of systems—we got our legs going and we hope for a big start. I told our guys this morning that a big key to this game will be the lengths of our shifts early on.

To get everyone in the game and to get the legs moving again I think will be a major key.”

The Flames are facing a Kings team who already shook off some rust last night in a 6-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Bob Hartley isn’t sure if his club holds any kind of advantage considering the Kings are playing back-to-back games.

“The question is do they get an advantage because they played last night or do we get an advantage because it’s our second game in two nights,” said Hartley. “The rust is out of their system but at the same time they played last night. It is what it is, when you play two games in two nights, it you win the second game you compliment your team’s commitment and when you lose [you can say] the boys were tried so it’s always an easy situation to make excuses. On our side we don’t want to make excuses.”

Giordano feels the Kings playing last night gives them a slight edge.

“They have an advantage because they played last night so they’ve got some of the rust out but we’ve had some good practices and we’re ready to go,” said the Flames captain.

DOUBLE DEBUT

Joni Ortio and Markus Granlund sat beside each other in the dressing room on Thursday, both players set to make their NHL debut tonight.

It wasn’t clear who was more excited. The smile on Granlund’s face pretty much summed up what was going through his head. The leading goal getter on the Abbotsford Heat couldn’t contain his excitement.

“Of course I’m excited, he grinned. “It’s my first NHL game so I’ll just try to enjoy it.”

Granlund will skate on the Flames fourth unit with Kevin Westgarth and Paul Byron. The 20-year-old says he has enjoyed skating with the pair for the past few days.

“Byron is a fast player and Westy is a big so I’ll just go out there and play.”

Hartley said this is a great opportunity for Granlund.

“I can feel that he’s on his toes, especially this morning. He was asking questions. He’s younger and here’s another guy who is probably one of our MVP’s in Abbotsford,” Hartley said. “He got called up early on before the Olympic break when there was a doubt on a player because of an injury and it ended up that he didn’t play but he got a taste and he was around the team. Now he’s practiced with us for the last couple of days and due to Stempy’s absence and Grats injury, he has a chance to play. Injuries open doors and it’s great for Markus.”

Ortio, who accompanied the team on the last road trip through Montreal, New York and Philadelphia, has spent enough time around the club to feel comfortable and isn’t nervous at all on the day of his first start in the NHL.

“I’m just not that type of guy. I don’t really get that nervous,” said the rookie netminder. “I don’t know where it comes from. I think I’ve always been somewhat like that. That’s something I’ve always had and it’s always been there. I don’t know where it comes from; it’s just how I’ve been.”

Ortio has made his way to the NHL after suiting up for three different teams in three different leagues in the past calendar year. The Turku, Finland product reflected on his path that lead him into tonight.

“It’s been quite a journey,” said Ortio. “It’s been four months. Things have been going my way and I’m just happy to be here.”

Bob Hartley commended Ortio on his commitment to his goals and indicated that Ortio’s attitude is what got him to where he is today.

“I think that it’s a great example for so many midget, junior kids,” Hartley said. “They get cut, they don’t get drafted or whatever situations. You can never quit. This is a business of commitment. This is a business of performance and sometimes you change your habits, you change your way of life and suddenly doors (open). It’s just a matter of taking advantage of opportunities in front of him and that’s what he’s going to do tonight.”

HEAD TO HEAD

Last 10: Los Angeles 3-7-0; Calgary 6-3-1

Season series:This is the third of five meetings between the Los Angeles Kings (0-2) and the Calgary Flames (2-0). The Flames have taken a pair of last minute victories from the Kings, both in Los Angeles.

Calgary's All-time record vs. LA: 111-82-21-1-3

All-time record LA in CGY: 65-31-12-0-1

LAST TEN GAMES LA VS CGY:4-5-0-1

The Flames have won the last two consecutive games between the two clubs. In 13 of the last 16 games, the loser has scored one goal

or less.

LAST TEN GAMES LA AT CGY: 6-3-0-1

The Kings have won the last four consecutive games at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Prior to that, the Flames had won 10 straight at the 'dome over the Kings and have won 14 of the last 20 on home ice.

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