Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Predators
SWITCHING THINGS UP ON THE BACK END
The Flames will be making a change on defence tonight as Cory Sarich will slot in for Derek Smith. The veteran blueliner, who has played nine games this year, has been a healthy scratch since Mar. 11 when he suited up for the second game of the back-to-back series vs. the Los Angeles Kings.
Steve Begin will also jump back into the lineup after sitting as a healthy scratch on Monday in Dallas.
LOOKING ONLY AT THE PRESENT
Both the Flames and Preds have struggled at points throughout the season and both clubs head into tonight's game off of a loss. The Flames dropped a 4-3 decision in Dallas earlier this week and the Preds have lost four straight.
But for head coach Bob Hartley, neither team's recent past should come into play tonight - it's a fresh start for both teams desperately fighting to stay in the playoff race.
"You can't live on what went on yesterday or last week," he stressed. "We have a great challenge. We have 21 games left. We know exactly where we stand and that has to be our motivation. I think it's very easy motivation."
What Hartley and his crew are focusing on is defensive zone coverage. The coaching staff wasn't happy with his team's play in their own end in the first period in Dallas so they have spent quite a bit of time with the team working on what they would like to see out of them.
"It's all about decisions," Hartley said. "It's all about what we generate and what we give as scoring chances. Many people look at shots for and shots against but for me, I don't pay too much attention to that stat. It's more (for me) the chances for and the chances against.
"In many games, we outchance our opponents but it's obviously where we have been giving our chances that has been hurting us."
The Flames faced Nashville just over a week ago, picking up a decisive 6-3 victory over the Preds so the team know what they need to do grab two points tonight.
"We skated very well," Hartley explained. "I felt that we had great jump in our game. We got timely goals right from the start. We generated momentum and we kept it all game long."
FROM THE OPPOSITION'S LOCKER ROOM
Nashville head coach Barry Trotz relayed an injury update to the media this morning and his crew will be without quite a few of their regulars for awhile. Scott Hannan (defence), Hal Gill (defence), Patric Hornqvist (forward), Paul Gaustad (forward) and Colin Wilson (forward) are all out indefinitely with injuries.
The team is coming off a road trip that did not treat them well, dropping all four of their games in other teams rinks. While injuries aren't being used as an excuse, Trotz acknowledged it was harder for his team to adjust to having so many players out of the lineup while on the road.
"As coaches, you say the guys who go in have to step up," he said. "Obviously on the road it's a little more difficult than it at home because of the match-ups. You try to spend things out a little bit more because you don't have last change."
Trotz noted forward Sergei Kostitsyn will play tonight. The forward sat of out the Preds game in Columbus on Tuesday after making an irresponsible play in Edmonton last weekend that lead to am Oilers shorthanded goal.
"We need to get back in. He's a very intelligent player, he can help us in a lot of different areas - power play, penalty kill, five on five. He served his time if you will and he will be back in the lineup."
"They bring all different aspects of the game that once you put them together, they're a very good line. Glenny is kind of the grit on that line. Stempniak brings lots of experience and a great read in all three zones. With Staj, he's very reliable down low and offensively, he can generate some great plays." - Bob Hartley on the Glencross-Stajan-Stempniak line, which has combined for 16 points in their last 3 games
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Jay Bouwmeester needs 1 point for 300.
Matt Stajan needs 2 assists for 200.
Cory Sarich needs 4 points for 150 and 4 games for 900.
Lee Stempniak needs 4 points for 300.
Dennis Wideman needs 5 assists for 200.
Jiri Hudler needs 7 goals for 100.
Jarome Iginla needs 7 points for 1100.