Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Blackhawks

Friday, 03.02.2012 / 9:00 AM / Calgary Flames Budweiser Game Day
By Torie Peterson  - CalgaryFlames.com (@toriepeterson)




A TON OF SUPPORT

Tonight marks Calgary product Krys Kolanos debut with the Flames and the 30 year-old will have a plethora of support in the stands.

"There will be over 100," was his response when asked how many friends and family are coming out for tonight's game against the Blackhawks.

"I've got a great support system here in town. It's going to be really exciting to play in front of them."

Many kids dream of playing for their favourite team and having that fantasy become a reality had Kolanos stumped for words for a couple of seconds.

"It's an unbelieavable experience and feeling. I grew up a Flames fan and watched them win a Cup when I was eight years old. It just feels like it's a part of me."

To add to his excitement, Kolanos will start tonight's game on the second line. He skated in between Mike Cammalleri and Blair Jones during Thursday's practice and can't wait to see how he gels with the two.

"They're both very dynamic players and I'm just looking to find some chemistry as early as possible with the two of them."

TIGHTENING UP

On Tuesday, the Flames allowed two third period goals and the Detroit Red Wings ended up walking out of the Scotiabank Saddledome with a 3-1 win over Calgary. The game-winning tally, which came off of Jiri Hudler's stick, was a direct result of a stumble in the neutral zone. 

Chris Butler, who was in perfect position when the rush started, lost his edge and fell while defending against Valtteri Filppula. While Butler can't be faulted for taking a tumble, that is where the play really picked up steam and it resulted in Filppula being able to dish the puck to Hudler.

In addition to the goal, there were a few other errors at center ice that led to quality scoring chances. According to blueliner, the Flames need to play an air-tight game in the neutral zone if they want to leave the game with two points in hand.

"Chicago is a team that really thrives off turnovers, a lot like Detroit," he noted. "Any of teams with a lot of big guns, they're neutral zone transition is so strong.

"If we manage the puck well in the neutral zone and make sure that we make them come 180 feet or 200 feet, then we're not going to give up a lot of scoring chances. I think that will be our focus."

Another aspect Butler brought up was maintaining their "it's up to us" mentality . The Flames currently sit five points out of a playoff position and given the amount of teams just a few points ahead or below them, it can be easy to start obsessively watching the scoreboard and hoping other clubs around them falter.

"We've got the standings up in the locker room and everything so you're well aware of what teams are doing previous nights and who is playing who.

"But, if we don't take care of our own business ... we can't count on teams to lose. We've got to put some games together and get our game together and start playing a playoff-style game down the stretch."

UPCOMING MILESTONES

Miikka Kiprusoff is two wins away from 300.

Matt Stajan needs three goals for 100.

Tom Kostopoulos needs seven assists for 100.

Scott Hannan needs nine points for 200.