Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Senators
Forward Paul Byron will play his first game in Scotiabank Saddledome tonight and couldn't keep the smile off his face when asked about tonight's tilt.
"It feels really good," he grinned. "I worked pretty hard down in Abbotsford. We have a great team down there, great coaches, great players and it feels good to be the one that gets called up."
The Ottawa native made a push for a roster spot during training camp but was ultimately deemed not quite ready by management. It was a decision he has used a motivator during his time with the Heat, citing general manager Jay Feaster's advice to simply keep working hard staying in his mind at all times.
"I was pretty disappointed but you look at the numbers going into camp - you've got to displace a veteran and you have to outplay them. I don't think I did that during training camp."
He's been stationed at center ice throughout his professional career but given the plethora of pivots on the roster, the Flames coaching staff shuffled him over to the left of Roman Horak.
"I played wing in junior actually so it feels good to be back on the wing," Byron said. "It's a little less pressure and responsibility off my game.
"I think I can help out Roman. I can play down low any time so I think that's good for our line - to have two capable centers on the ice."
Lee Stempniak balances out Byron's line and the rookie feels the trio's speed is a big benefit for the team. They combined for four points against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night and were the club's most consistent line in the divisional battle.
"We all skate well, provide lots of energy and lots of jump. It's really good playing with those players. I think we play a lot alike and we have good chemistry."
"It's going to be a little bit of a change but a change for the better," Smith chuckled, adding he won't be looking for a roommate. "I'm old enough I can take care of myself."
Smith, who signed with the Flames as a free agent this summer, has spent time in the Ottawa Senators organization but was never given assurance he would spent the bulk of his time with the big team when in Ottawa on a call-up.
"It's the first time so it was pretty exciting when I heard the news yesterday. It's definitely something I was looking forward to and hoped it would happen. It came at a good time."
The blueliner's solid, poised play this year has pushed the coaching staff to bench veteran Cory Sarich. In addition to his defensive game, Smith has an excellent outlet pass and moves the puck well through all three zones. He feels those attributes have been significant factors in his success in Calgary.
"To be able to play now, you've got to be able to play defence and move the puck. I think so far, I've been a good fit for both. I'm responsible defensively but can still jump up into the play and make plays when I have to."
In 12 games with the Flames, Smith has one assist and a plus-one rating.