Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Avalanche
ALIU BACK IN THE LINEUP
Akim Aliu will jump back into the lineup tonight after missing the last two games with a lower body injury.
"For Akim, it's another page in his book. He's a young player and we just have to keep him focused, keep him on the job," Bob Hartley said. "He's a big body. There's not too many guys in the NHL that bring what Akim brings - speed and size.
"This guy, if there would be speed contests in the NHL, he would rank among the best. This guy can get there, can deliver some pretty good body checks and can be very physical on the forecheck."
Aliu has suited up for one game this season, playing 4:24 in Calgary's 3-1 win over Minnesota on Feb. 23. The 23 year-old scored his first and second NHL goals on Apr. 7, 2012 in his second NHL game.
BAERTSCHI FEELING GOOD
Sven Baertschi has played three games since returning to the lineup from a hip flexor injury and the rookie is feeling very comfortable thus far.
"It's been great," he told CalgaryFlames.com. "I did a lot of conditioning before I got back so my body feels good. It feels like I've got a lot of air - I'm not really gassed out there. I feel really good."
One thing that has been very apparent since his return is Baertschi's willingness to play a more physical game. He spent a ton of time in the gym while he was recovering, working on improving his upper body strength. He's been battling along the boards, playing in the tough areas and finishing his checks in an effort to improve his overall play.
"I want to get some respect in the league," he stated. "Show that I've got some weight too and I can throw it around out there.
"I'm not going out there with my goal being to make hits but there are certain situations where you have to."
Baertschi has spent the bulk of his time on a line with Jiri Hudler since his return. Playing alongside the veteran has been a great experience for the 20 year-old and he's soaking up as much as he can from the Czech winger.
"He's a really smart player. There is a lot of things I can learn from him. I think to play with him is a gift. I'm really excited about it.
"He finds all the players out there and for me the key is get open, let him do his thing and the puck will always come to you. You don't have to be too worried in any situation, just let him do his thing."
HARTLEY'S RETURN TO COLORADO
This is Hartley's third trip to the Pepsi Center as a visiting coach and it is still a nostalgic experience for the bench boss who led the Avs to a Stanley Cup Championship in 2001.
"It’s always special. I have lots of friends plus lots of great memories," he said. "To be honest, I don’t think there’s been a day since that day, June 11th it was, that I don’t think about it."
Hartley made two stops in Colorado as the Atlanta Thrashers head coach.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I've met him several times. I've seen him in action. We want to get bigger, we want to get tougher. We're not shying away from this. Obviously, he's a tough customer and I'll be very honest with you, I love him." - Bob Hartley on the acquisition of Brian McGrattan
WHAT THE OPPOSITION IS SAYING
"They're pretty much in the same boat we are, desperate for points. This is another divisional battle. We need to get something going and start collecting points." - Milan Hejduk
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Matt Stajan needs 3 points for 300 and 10 assists for 200.
Cory Sarich needs 4 points for 150 and 5 games for 900.
Jay Bouwmeester needs 5 points for 300.
Dennis Wideman needs 9 assists for 200.
Jiri Hudler needs 9 goals for 100.
Lee Stempniak needs 13 points for 300.
Jarome Iginla needs 14 points for 1100.