MAKING HIS NHL DEBUT
The 20-year-old is set to make his NHL debut tonight and he couldn't be happier.
"I'm excited. It's every child's dream to make the NHL," he said after a quick pre-game skate. "I'm happy to get this opportunity."
Wotherspoon is in the midst of his first professional season and has suited up for 48 games with the Heat this season. He has adjusted extremely well and head coach Troy G. Ward has the Surrey, BC product playing big minutes on the Abbotsford blueline.
Having to shoulder that kind of responsibility as a rookie as helped Wotherspoon immensely, both on and off the ice.
"I've adapted to the pro hockey lifestyle," he explained. "It's a lot different from junior especially. [I've] grown up as a man and that has really helped me on the ice, developing my position and getting comfortable with the pro style.
"I'm young but I'm growing every day."
Wotherspoon will be paired up with veteran Ladislav Smid tonight, a move that should help the youngster make a quicker transition to the pace of an NHL game.
"It's going to help a lot," Wotherspoon said. "He's a veteran out there and he's going to help a lot. Even out in the skate, he's talking lots. It's just nice to be able to watch a guy like that and really style my game after him."
Smid, who played his first NHL game on Oct. 6, 2006 against the Flames, knows what it's like to have a veteran presence beside you when you're a rookie. The Edmonton Oilers paired the Czech rearguard up with Steven Staios early in his career.
Staios helped calm Smid's nerves in those opening outings and he hopes he can do the same with Wotherspoon.
"I just want to make him feel comfortable. He's got to be relaxed. Obviously he's going to be a bit nervous but that's understandable. Just going to try to talk to him on and off the ice and hopefully we're going to work well together."
GALI BACK IN, HUDLER AND WIDEMAN OUT
Hartley announced that Jiri Hudler (lower body) and Wideman (upper body) will miss at least the next two games with their ailments but the Flames will get TJ Galiardi back in the lineup. The forward missed one game after injuring himself in the gym.
"I feel pretty good. It was just a little tweak or something so I'm back," Galiardi stated.
FOREVER A FLAME NIGHT
The Flames will honour former captain Joe Nieuwendyk tonight, with the alumnus being inducted into the Forever A Flame program prior to the game.
Galiardi, a Calgary native, has plenty of memories of the pivot and is looking forward to seeing one of his childhood heroes lauded.
"I used to watch all their playoff series and he was the biggest, strongest guy on the ice. It's going to be cool to be a part of this tonight."
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Dennis Wideman is 6 points from 300.
Mikael Backlund is 9 points from 100.
Brian McGrattan is 11 games from 300.
VS. THE ISLANDERS
All-time vs. the Islanders: 43-43-20-0-1
All-time vs. the Islanders in Calgary: 25-15-11-0-1
Last 10 games vs. the Islanders: 4-5-0-1
Last 10 games vs. the Islanders in Calgary: 7-2-0-1
"You're making me feel really old right now! I'm in my 20's!" - Ladislav Smid when asked about being the veteran in his pairing tonight
Tonight's game will be broadcast on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet The FAN 960 at 7:00 PM MST.
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