Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Blue Jackets
LINEUP CHANGES TONIGHT
Head coach Bob Hartley has confirmed that there will be a few lineup changes for his squad tonight. On defence, Cory Sarich will play alongside Derek Smith tonight as Chris Butler will sit. Up front, Mikael Backlund will not play so Roman Cervenka will slot in for him.
Cervenka scored his first NHL goal in the Flames last visit to Nationwide Arena on Feb. 7, a game which the Flames won 4-3 in overtime.
KEEPING AT IT
Hartley has coached teams going through frustrating periods like the Flames are right now on the road and he believes they can turn that desperation and irritation into motivation and momentum. A few shifts fueled by that vexation can change an entire season.
"A couple of shifts, a couple of games - it doesn't take much to turn a season around. Sometimes, it's to find that famous switch.
"Your top players go on a tear and suddenly everything they're shooting is going in. Suddenly you're a different team."
The Blue Jackets head into tonight's game with a boatload of confidence thanks to quite the run in March that has vaulted them from the Western Conference basement to tenth place. That success, however, isn't something that is weighing on the Flames minds.
"For us, it's so important that we focus on our own game," Hartley stressed. "We know the story of the last weeks with Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky has been a great leader for them, was named first star of the NHL for a few weeks and obviously when you get those kinds of performances from your goalie, it gives you a chance to win. And when you win, your confidence grows a lot.
"On our side, to regroup from last night we know in which areas we need to better and at the same time, just to play our games. Games are coming down to a very low number and we need some wins."
FROM THE OPPOSITION'S LOCKER ROOM
Earlier in the season, defenceman James Wisniewski classified his team as a group of hard workers, devoid of superstars but a collection of persistent individuals who would succeed if the group meshed together and that assessment appears to be spot-on.
The Blue Jackets have won seven of their last 10 games and have earned points in all ten of those outings. They have found that success thanks in large part to having their entire lineup contribute offensively. The term "scoring by committee" is one Cam Atkinson believes sums up the team's run in March.
"It's not one or two guys scoring," Atkinson told CalgaryFlames.com. "We have a collective group going every day. It doesn't matter which line is out there. Any line can provide offence for us."
Knowing the Flames are coming into tonight's contest desperate to halt their road skid, Atkinson is expecting a fast-paced, intense hockey game as his team is also hungry to keep climbing in the standings and slide into a postseason position.
"We know they're going to come hard but we're also a desperate team too. It doesn't matter what team comes in or how desperate they are - we know we're going to get their A-game but we're going to play our A-game as well."
Head coach Todd Richards made note of a couple of lineup changes for his team in his post-practice address: former Flame Adrian Aucoin will return tonight, John Moore will sit as a healthy scratch, Brandon Dubinsky is out after suffering a setback with his recent injury and Colton Gillies will slot in.
"It's up to us to find solutions. At the pro level or in life, you have two ways you can go; you can look for excuses and become a victim or you can look for solutions and be a good pro." - Bob Hartley on the mentality he wants his players to have as they try to work through their road struggles
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Matt Stajan needs 2 assists for 200.
Lee Stempniak needs 3 points for 300.
Cory Sarich needs 3 games for 900 and 4 points for 150.
Dennis Wideman needs 5 assists for 200.
Jarome Iginla needs 6 points for 1100.
Jiri Hudler needs 7 goals for 100.