Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Wild
During their four-game road swing, the Flames were flat-footed to start and they allowed the first goal in every one of those games.
Their inability to come out firing on all cylinders played a large part in their 0-2-2 record on the road and if they want to leave the Scotiabank Saddledome tonight with two points, they need to be far more aggressive in the opening period.
"It's easier said than done but it's all the cliches," Lee Stempniak said. "You need to come out and play with a lot of energy and desperation right at the start."
Calgary's play in the final two frames in all four games on the road were significantly better than their first stanza and while that can be used as a motivating factor, Stempniak cautioned they cannot use that as an excuse for a slow start.
"We've been doing a pretty good job for the most part when the game is on line late - making a good push to come back. But it's been too little, too late for the most part.
"If we bring that urgency right from the start and really focus on skating and being aggressive and assertive, we'll hopefully get off to an early lead and that makes a difference."
With Matt Stajan on the injured reserve and Rene Bourque serving the first game of his two-game suspension, head coach Brent Sutter has shuffled his lines in order to accomodate the holes the two forwards left.
Paul Byron, who was recalled from the Abbotsford Heat on Monday, will play on the left wing on the third line with Roman Horak and Blake Comeau. Olli Jokinen will center Curtis Glencross and Lee Stempniak while Brendan Morrison is in between Tom Kostopoulos and Tim Jackman. Mikael Backlund and Alex Tanguay will play with Jarome Iginla on the top line.
The defence pairings will remain the same with Joe Pisukla and Brett Carson sitting out as healthy scratches.
Blueliner Anton Babchuk skated with the team for the first time since breaking his hand in early November. It is unclear when he will return.
The Wild have several players sitting on the shelf with injuries. Mikko Koivu (leg), Devin Setoguchi (lower body), Guillaume Latendresse (concussion), Casey Wellman (wrist) and Justin Falk (back) all have missed time and it is unclear as to when any of them will return to the lineup.