Czechs set to make their Flames debut on Saturday night
CALGARY, AB -- In addition to getting used to a couple of new linemates on Friday, Matt Stajan also received a bit of a language lesson.
"There was a lot of Czech going on which I did not understand," he said with a laugh. "I'm going to try to lean on Jiri a bit, to be a bit of a translator. But we all talk hockey out there and we'll do our best to communicate. That's part of the job. We have to make sure we're responding to each other and I think we'll make it happen."
Stajan centered Jiri Hudler and Roman Cervenka during Friday's hour-long skate and was impressed with their skill level and the chemistry the duo has already. That familiarity, according to Stajan, will be beneficial as the three of them come together as a line.
"They're smart players ... they're going to be easy guys to play with. For myself, I've got to keep the game simple, support the puck all over the ice and you know you'll get chances with those guys."
Head coach Bob Hartley confirmed both Cervenka and Hudler will be in the lineup tomorrow night in the first installment of the 2013 Battle of Alberta, confident both are ready for game-action.
"We need to start them somewhere and we're already three games into the season. In a 48-game season, there is no time to waste. Obviously it's going to be a learning situation for both guys but at the same time, next week we have three good days of practice.
"It's the Battle of Alberta and we're going to soak them in."
The decision to place Cervenka on a line with Hudler was an easy one for Hartley. He wants to ensure that Cervenka's transition into the NHL goes as smoothly as possible and having a familiar face - and someone who can help break down the finer points of the Flames system in Cervenka's native language - will provide the Praha, CZE product with stability in his first NHL game.
"Roman, his English is not that great so in order ease him in, with Jiri, I think that it's a natural right now. Will it be the duo that we're all dreaming of? Hopefully it is. We might change lines. Right now, in order to make Roman comfortable, I think that to put him with Jiri makes sense to us."
While Cervenka is listed as a centre, the 27 year-old has played on the wing as well. The coaching staff reviewed videos of Cervenka's games in the KHL and found the system he played centre under in that league wasn't even close to the system the Flames employ. While he may play up the middle later on in the season, Hartley feels he is better suited to the wing as he grows accustomed to the North American game.
"Roman played right wing as a left shot and also played centre ... I asked him and he said, 'I'm very comfortable whether right wing or centre,' so we will practice with him at both positions but for tomorrow, he's going to be at right wing."
Hudler, who did not participate in the majority of training camp or the first three games of the season as he was on bereavement leave, is looking forward to making his Flames debut. He has skated with the team a couple of times and has gotten a good feel for what the coaching staff would like from him.
"I felt pretty good. We had a good flow. We skated pretty hard (today)."
The Flames signed Hudler to a four-year deal on July 2, 2012. Cervenka signed a one-year deal with club on May 2, 2012.