COLBORNE EARNING PRAISE
The kid is alright.
23-year-old Joe Colborne was acquired by the Flames from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft on Sept. 28.
It took Colborne a few months to really find find his grove but since then he has consistently been contributing on both ends of the ice. Bob Hartley pointed to the young players preparation and all-around hockey sense as factors in Colborne's resurgence.
"His preparation has been unbelievable," Hartley said. "As a coach I like to look at his own approach to the game—his willingness to learn. He has tremendous hockey sense.
"One thing [I learned] when he first joined the team, his hockey IQ is just phenomenal. It was just to get his game together and make him understand what he had to do. We had a pretty healthy number of centerman so I thought that putting him on the wing would maybe ease his transition to the NHL and maybe give him a new role."
Hartley has been moving some of his younger players into different situations in an attempt to help them grow. Penalty killing is something both Colborne and Sean Monahan have been doing more of in the past few weeks and it's a sign of the coaches confidence in them.
"Joe is a great story because we can look at his numbers, but as a coach I like to go beyond his numbers," Hartley said. "The way that he plays and the way he competes. His commitment level to play with and without the puck is great. It got to a point where I thought it would be a great investment to start him and Sean Monahan penalty killing in the last ten games of the season and they’re both doing great.
"It’s a sign of the way Joe wants to learn and the way he wants to play and I think that he loves it in Calgary—playing in front of his hometown."
BACKLUND GAME TIME DECISION
Bob Hartley indicated that pivot Mikael Backlund would be a game-time decision against the Florida Panthers due to an upper body injury he sustained in last night's 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The 25-year-old has had a career season with the Flames registering 18 goals and 21 assists in 76 games.
JOEY MAC GETS START, AGOSTINO BACK IN
Hartley is going with Joey Macdonald in goal tonight for the Flames.
Karri Ramo shouldered the load last night in Tampa Bay and Macdonlad will get his 9th start of the season with Calgary.
Macdonald last started on Mar. 14 against the Dallas Stars, a game in which the Flames prevaled 4-3 in a shootout. He also came in to relieve Karri Ramo against the Nashville Predators one week later.
Kenny Agostino will also be inserted into the lineup tonight. It's unclear at this point who might be coming out as the Flames held an optional skate this morning in Florida but Hartley is trying to give all of his young guys a shot as the season winds down.
"I want to keep everyone on their toes. Ben [Hanowski] had worked really hard in practice and last night he responded with a really good game. We want to do the same thing with [Agostino] and all of our young players deserve to play so that’s what we’re going to do."
The 21-year-old has suited up for four NHL contests this season. He last played on Mar. 29 against the New York Rangers. Agonstino is still in search of his first NHL point.
"It’s unfortunate, we only have five game left. I’m sad because I wish I could keep going. I feel that even though we’re not in the playoffs there’s excitement around the team. There’s no pressure on our guys but they’re playing with a lot of confidence, they’re playing with a lot of grit and thery are fun to work with.."
- Bob Hartley talks about the season winding down
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Mike Cammalleri is 1 point from 500.
Kris Russell is 6 assists from 100.
Mark Giordano is 5 points away from 200.
All-time vs. the Panthers: 12-7-3-0-2
All-time vs. the Panthers in Florida: 6-3-2-0-1
Last 10 games vs. the Panthers: 5-1-1-0-2
Last 10 games vs. the Panthers in Florida: 6-1-2-0-1
Tonight's battle with the Panthers will be broadcast on Sportsnet Flames (TV) and Sportsnet 960 The FAN (radio). Puck drop is 5:30 MST.
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