Flames Today: 22.02.13
AKIM UP AND ANXIOUS
The Calgary Flames didn’t hesitate to call up some size on Thursday, bringing in six-foot-three, 220-pound Akim Aliu from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League.
Aliu is no stranger to the Flames, scoring two goals and an assist over a two-game stint to close out the 2011-12 season.
“It feels like it’s happening all over again and it feels like my first game again,” Aliu said. “I wasn’t here for too long last year so it’s super excited, I’m happy to be here and hopefully I can help this team in any way I can.”
There’s no secret what coach Bob Hartley and the Flames are looking for out of the 23-year-old.
“I spoke to Jay (Feaster) last night when I heard the news and I spoke to Bob this morning and they told me they wanted me to bring energy and be physical,” Aliu said.
That shouldn’t be too hard for Aliu, who had 12 penalty minutes in his audition last April and another 80 in 27 games with the Heat this season.
“It’s playing the game,” Hartley said. “This game is about being gritty. It’s a physical game. We’re not talking about croquet over here. We’re talking about a game of passion, a game that world class athletes play in and you need a certain size. I think Akim brings that size to us.”
BAERTSCHI CLOSE TO RETURN
Practicing without a yellow ‘non-contact’ on Friday, rookie Sven Baertschi is nearing a return to the Flames lineup.
“Sven is getting close,” Hartley confirmed. “Tomorrow morning we’re going to look at him again. I felt he had a good practice today. He’s still working with the medical staff and everything. There’s a possibility.”
That possibility has Baertschi, still searching for his first point of the season, excited.
“You start from zero, I’m excited about it,” Baertschi said. “It’s a new challenge. A lot of the guys have a lot of games already this season. I’m happy I can jump in with a little less games. I’m more fired up now. I’m excited to go.”
Baertschi said having to watch Calgary’s last 11 games as a spectator has been difficult.
“For me, I really hate either up there in the press box or sitting down here on the couch watching TV,” he said. “It’s something I don’t want to do and don’t want to do too often in my future. I’m happy it’s over now and I’m excited to get back out there and get going.”
MORE TEAM TOUGHNESS DESIRED
Following a loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, Hartley said his club needed to be tougher to play against.
Mike Cammalleri agreed.
“When your record is what ours is, it’s definitely probably a bit too easy to play against,” Cammalleri said. “That’s probably more than just a toughness thing. It’s probably a lot of different ways that we need to be harder to play against.”
But the solution isn’t as simple as dropping the gloves on a more regular basis, something the Flames have done five times this season.
“For us, we need to be a group that stands up for one another and also I guess have an aggressive tone to our game and that will give you an overall toughness,” Cammalleri said.
CERVENKA ‘OK’ ACCORDING TO COACH
Despite taking a puck in the throat against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, Roman Cervenka is feeling much better according to Hartley.
“I talked to him after the game and he had a hard time to talk but this morning he seemed okay,” Hartley said. “He was lucky it was kind of a floating puck but he got it right in the neck in the throat.”
Cervenka was hit by the errant puck in the second period and played just 34 seconds in the third period of the 3-1 loss to the Kings.
“On the bench I know our medical guy attended to him and for a while he was pretty sore,” Hartley said. “That area is pretty dangerous and you always want to make sure that you’re cautious but what I got from today he was fine.”
The 27-year-old has two goals and six points in 12 games this season – his first in North America.
“It’s not really easy to get really what’s inside of him but we have a good feel for this,” Hartley said. “He’s another player that while learning the league, we have to work at getting him better.”