Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Blackhawks
Winger Rene Bourque missed Wednesday and Thursday's practices for "maintenance" according to head coach Brent Sutter. Those absences left some to wonder if he would be able to play against his former team tonight but Bourque brushed off that notion.
"I feel good," he said. "Just a little bruised up but I'll be ready tonight."
The Hawks have had a lot of success over the Flames recently, winning 11 of the last 13. However, Bourque feels the team can build off their last game against Chicago. They put 25 shots on Corey Crawford and were able to generate quite a few scoring opportunities.
"I think in Chicago last week, we played a pretty good game," he said. "We played hard. We had a lot of chances. We had a couple breakdowns in the third period and that was the game.
"We can't make any mistakes against them. We're not a team that is going to score a lot of goals. We have to play tight defensively and make the most of our opportunities."
Head coach Brent Sutter also said Brendan Morrison has a "50/50" chance of playing tonight. If that is the case, he will need to be taken off the injured reserve this afternoon.
After taking a slight stumble last year - something which many credit the fabled Stanley Cup hangover for - the Chicago Blackhawks are back and have reinstated themselves as the powerhouse in the NHL.
They are currently the best team in the League with a 12-4-3 record (27 points) and are coming off an impressive 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. They have a ton of fire power up front - with Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane both in the top 10 in NHL scoring - and their defensive corps is equally as deep.
As far as goaltending is concerned, Corey Crawford may not be among the League's elite netminders quite yet but he can carry the load when he needs to.
A daunting challenge? Not according to Mikael Backlund.
"It's fun," Backlund said. "Great players on that team, top in our conference - it's always fun to play against the best teams."
After missing the first 14 games of the season with a broken digit, Backlund returned to action last Friday in Chicago. Given he centers the team's top line, he was immediately faced with the task of breaking through the Duncan Keith-Brent Seabrook tandem.
"It's a big challenge, especially for me," Backlund said. "Last game, I got to play against one of the best, top pairing defenceman in the League. They're a big challenge and it's a lot of fun to get some good challenges."
"The pucks will start to go in for us soon." - Backlund on the team's offensive woes
"I know I have to be better. I have to play better." - Iginla when asked about his slow start to the season