Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Canucks

Notes regarding the Flames battle with the Canucks

Saturday, 08.03.2014 / 1:31 PM
Torie Peterson  - CalgaryFlames.com (@toriepeterson)

BACK IN NET

22-year-old Joni Ortio has backstopped his club to two straight victories this week, making 53 saves on 57 shots.

His efforts have solidified the coaching staff's confidence in the young Finn and Ortio will get his third straight start - and second in as many nights - in Vancouver.

"Joni Ortio will start in net," bench boss Bob Hartley confirmed after Friday's 4-3 victory over the New York Islanders. "It's another big road game for us."

Ortio, who was the Flames sixth round pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, has been superb throughout the course of his first full season in North America. In Abbotsford, he went 20-6-0 while recording a 2.22 GAA and a .926 save percentage. In three games with the Flames, he's 2-1-0 with a 2.02 GAA and a .926 save percentage.

"He's been great," Joe Colborne told CalgaryFlames.com. "He's so steady and it's great to see him doing well."

Joey MacDonald will back-up Ortio. Karri Ramo remains sidelined with a sprained MCL.

WOTHERSPOON'S HOMECOMING

Rookie rearguard Tyler Wotherspoon will have plenty of people cheering him on tonight as he plays his first NHL game in his home province. His parents, who flew into Calgary yesterday to watch his NHL debut, will be in attendance and he will have numerous friends and family members tuning into Hockey Night In Canada.

"It's exciting," he smiled. "I grew up watching these guys my whole childhood and it's amazing to be able to play here and face off against them now."

The Surrey, BC native played his first game in Flames silks last night against the New York Islanders, logging 18 shifts in 11:15 of ice time.

"I was a little nervous at first," he admitted. "But I got more comfortable as the game went on. Everybody is a solid player out there so you've got to give it your all every shift. You have to be aware out there and make sure you're in a good position all of the time."

The 20-year-old was recalled in response to Dennis Wideman going down with an upper body malady on Wednesday. There isn't a definitive timeline on the veteran blueliner's return to action.

FIGHT NIGHT IN THE PAST

The last time the Flames and Canucks met, it was an explosive affair that featured 10 fighting majors, 142 penalty minutes dished out in the first two seconds of the game and a grand total of 204 penalty minutes in a 3-2 Canucks OT victory.

It also featured Canucks head coach John Tortorella trying to storm the Flames locker room in the first intermission.

So, tonight's game definitely comes with some baggage from that meeting on Jan. 18. However, in order to keep the ball rolling, Hartley has asked his crew to treat this just like any other outing.

"There's nothing that we could do more about that game," he stated. "It's just another game. It's in the books. We go there and it's just another road game for us. We're in a situation where we want to really have a progression in our game in all departments. It's going to be a good test of focus. Put the distractions aside and play a good game."

Colborne concurred with his coach, noting the team's focus was on trying to build off their last two wins - not on what happened on Jan. 18.

"We're going in trying tonight looking to get another victory," he stated. "We've played some good hockey recently and we want to keep improving."

Tortorella was asked about the last meeting between the two clubs in his morning media address and, like the Flames, he made it clear the emphasis was on the game in front of them, not battles in the past.

"This game has nothing to do with the last one. As far as what I'm concerned about, this is our next game after playing poorly in our last two road games. We need to answer in us playing better."

Since the Jan. 18 game, the Canucks have gone 3-11-1. The Flames are 9-5-0 in the same stretch.

RED HOT FLAMES

Colborne is riding a career-high four-game point streak, amassing three goals and five points in that span.

Paul Byron, who most recently played alongside Markus Granlund and Max Reinhart, has recorded three points in his last four games and has points in his last two outings.

Granlund has scored a goal in his last two games. On Friday, he notched a short-handed marker against the Islanders.

Sean Monahan has five points in his last four games. He scored the equalizer on Friday night against the Islanders.

CANUCKS LINEUP NOTES

Vancouver will be without the pesty Zack Kassian tonight as the forward was suspended for three games for his hit on Dallas' Brenden Dillon on Thursday. Nicklas Jensen, who was recalled on Friday from Utica, will likely play in his absence.

Eddie Lack will get the start.

MILESTONES WITHIN REACH

Dennis Wideman is 6 points from 300.

Mikael Backlund is 9 points from 100.

Brian McGrattan is 10 games from 300.

BROADCAST INFO

Tonight's battle will be the late game on CBC's Hockey Night In Canada, beginning at 8:00 PM MST. Sportsnet 960 The FAN will carry the radio broadcast.

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