Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Wild
When Flames defenceman Cory Sarich was hit by Avs forward David Jones on Tuesday night, he fell the ice hard and looked very woozy as the team's trainer helped him off the ice. He was deemed unable to play tonight in Minnesota so the Flames opted to fly the veteran back to Calgary for further evaulation on the upper body injury he sustained in Denver.
Thankfully, blueliner Chris Butler, who has missed 14 games with a thigh laceration, was scheduled to return to the lineup tonight so the Flames were not immediately forced to recall another body from Abbotsford.
"Before the trip, we kind of targeted this game as hopefully being the game I can return. Unfortunately, with Cory going down, I kind of need to return," he said. "But at the same time, this is the game I wanted to be ready for and I feel like I am ready for it."
The 25 year-old won't have the option of being eased back into the game and will likely have to shoulder a fair amount of minutes tonight. He is expected to be paired with his old partner, Jay Bouwmeester.
"For me, I couldn't ask for a better time to get back into things," Butler smiled. "You almost have that nervous energy like you do in the first game of the year. It's kind of like starting a new year for me."
Sitting in the press box for the past month has been a frustrating experience for Butler. His inability to help his teammates battle for a postseason position has been gnawing at him and he's anxious to get back into the game.
"You realize how much you miss it. You miss competing. You see how hard the guys are working and how much this time of the year matters to every team. It's not fun just sitting there and watching them play - especially the last couple of games when we haven't got the results we wanted."
Having Butler jump in for Sarich epitomizes the Flames injury situation this season. It seems as though every time the team gets a body healthy, another player goes down with an injury.
"I've never seen anything like it," Butler said with a shake of his head. "It seems like we've pretty much had every single type of injury that you could possibly ever imagine this year.
"It's unfortunate but I think if you look at the way guys have stepped up - whether it be guys that were called up or guys that were given more responsibility - to still be in the spot that we are with being decimated by injuries, I think guys have got to take some pride in that."
With Lance Bouma and Blair Jones playing tonight, Flames head coach Brent Sutter has adjusted his lines. David Moss will move back to the wing and play with Curtis Glencross and Olli Jokinen while Jones was centering Lee Stempniak and Blake Comeau in practice. Lance Bouma was in between Tom Kostopoulos and Tim Jackman.
Bouma has been on the shelf for the past eight games with an upper body injury he sustained on Mar. 4th. Puck drop cannot come soon enough for the forward.
"I'm excited to come back," he said. "I think at this time of the year, everybody wants to play and to help contribute. I'm really looking forward to getting back into the lineup."
Jones suffered a fractured ankle on Feb. 9th in a game against the Phoenix Coyotes. He has missed 19 games with the malady.
After missing 15 games with an upper body injury, Wild captain Mikko Koivu will return to action tonight.
"It feels good," he said after Minnesota's morning skate. "I'm very excited to be back."
Koivu never thought about shutting it down for the season and while the Wild aren't considered in the playoff picture anymore, he wants to help his team finish off their year on a strong note.
"We have to look forward and try to play as hard as we can, play as good as we can."
The veteran will be reunited with Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi on the Wild's top line tonight.
"Hopefully we can get where we want to be as soon as we can. Offensively, we need to help this team as much as we can but also, defensively, play good two-way hockey."