Morning Skate Report: Flames at Lightning

News and notes from the Flames morning skate in Tampa Bay

Thursday, 03.04.2014 / 8:37 AM
Jason Johnson  - CalgaryFlames.com (@jay__jo)

FAMILIAR FACES

With Defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon about to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, the Flames recalled a pair of blueliners in Chris Breen and Mark Cundari from the American Hockey League.

Cundari was sent to the Chicago Wolves this season as an American League deal, so the Flames still maintain his rights. The 23-year-old split the season between Chicago and the Abbotsford Heat, combining for nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points and 73 penalty minutes in 54 games.

He made an impressive debut with the Calgary Flames last season, netting his first career goal. The rearguard also added a pair of assists for three points in his three-game stint with Calgary.

Bob Hartley believes strongly that exposing a young player to the NHL is something that can pay off in the future.

"I’m a believer that every kid should get a taste of the NHL," Hartley said following the Flames morning skate in Tampa Bay. "What we did with Hanowski and what we’re doing with Agostino and Van Brabant—it’s huge. Ben Hanowski was very open with us [after the season]. He said he would have never been prepared for training camp if I hadn’t have seen [the NHL]. There’s a huge difference between major junior and college and the NHL."

Breen will suit up tonight against the Lightning and then Hartley will play it by ear as far as Cundari seeing any action.

"We’ll look at Breen’s game tonight and then we’ll see about Cundari," Hartley said.

FAMILY MATTERS

Matt Stajan and Paul Byron have both left the team for personal reasons.

Byron and his wife are expecting the birth of their second child and due to the risk of possible flight complications to Calgary from the southern USA, Hartley said it was easier for Byron to skip the last part of the road trip so he could be with his wife.

"[Byron's] wife was going to the doctor for the past couple of days, everything is good," Hartley said. "Obviously it’s getting close and that it was a plan of ours that once we came down south, flights to Calgary sometimes aren’t that easy.

"We’re trying to do the right things on and off the ice for our players and their families."

Stajan has also returned to Calgary to be with his wife as the couple are still dealing with their family tragedy last month. Hartley admitted Stajan's leave was planned all along.

"For Matt, it was all planned before," Hartley said. "It shows the organizational comment for the player’s families. I don’t think from an organizational standpoint we’re doing anything spectacular, we’re just doing the right thing."

LINEUP ADJUSTMENTS

With the absence of Byron, Stajan and Wotherspoon, the Flames will insert Ben Hanowski, TJ Galiardi and Breen into the lineup.

Kari Ramo will get his 36th start of the season tonight in Tampa Bay. Joey MacDonald will be given the nod tomorrow when the Flames face the Panthers.

VAN BRABANT GIVEN ENCORE

Bryce Van Brabant will play in his second NHL game tonight.

The 22-year-old made his debut Tuesday in Calgary's 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He registered 5:36 of ice time and took a minor penalty for high-sticking.

But more importantly, Hartley liked the aggression Van Brabant showed in Tuesday's debut.

"It’s one game and I plan to play him [more]," Hartley said. "I like his grit and he seems to be involved in the play and he seems to be fearless. It’s tough to put a gauge on those kids. It’s a little unfair for the young man. Everything is thrown at him so quickly."

He was definitely nervous in Toronto, but Van Brabant said his outing in the NCAA Frozen Four final last spring still takes the cake.

"I tried to be very aggressive, be the first one in the pile and from there, make some plays," he said. "It was nothing too hard, but I guess some guys don’t like to do it so I go out there and try to do as much as I can.

"I was actually pretty calm at the time. I wasn’t worried about being too intense out there. Last year [in Quinnipiac, we had a national championship game and it was a lot more nerve racking I think, for me anyway—it’s one game, do or die. I was just trying to enjoy it as much as I could."

The Morinville, AB native stressed his play without the puck is what he needs to be focused on and admitted he made a few mistakes in against the Leafs.

"If you don’t have the puck that’s where mistakes happen," he said. "When you have the puck it’s easy, you’re not trying to get it. I made a few mistakes that way. It’s just the systems and getting to learn them. Once I figure it out it will be easy and I’ll be able to make some plays."

QUOTABLE

"We’ve made a commitment, every game down the road and right until the final game in Vancouver, we’re playing to win. It’s not because we have some new players that suddenly the expectations are not the same. We’re going to have our foot down to the floor until the final second of the season. That’s what we want to teach. That’s the culture and the identity on this team."

- Bob Hartley on his philosophy in the final stretch.

MILESTONES WITHIN REACH

Mike Cammalleri is 3 points from 500.

Kris Russell is 7 assists from 100.

Mark Giordano is 5 points away from 200.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

All-time vs. the Lightning: 12-11-1-3

All-time vs. the Lightning in Tampa Bay: 5-5-1-2

Last 10 games vs. the Lightning: 3-4-0-3

Last 10 games vs. the Lightning in Tampa Bay: 3-4-1-2

BROADCAST INFO

Tonight's battle with the Lightning will be broadcast on Sportsnet West (TV) and Sportsnet 960 The FAN (radio).

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