Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Sharks
KIPPER BACK IN NET
After letting his starting netminder take a break on trade deadline day, bench boss Bob Hartley is giving Miikka Kiprusoff the nod in net tonight.
The goaltender's last few weeks can best be described as tumultuous as he dealt with recovering from an injury, going through the birth of his second child and being under constant scrutiny as trade speculation swirled around him.
"All the distractions that went over the past weeks ... I feel for Miikka," Hartley said after practice on Friday. "It adds up. It's not excuses but they're facts. I had a good talk with him. Every thing is behind him. He made a commitment that he wanted to finish the season as a Flame and I have absolutely no problem with this. That was his wish and I fully support it.
"I just want him to a good end to the season."
Kiprusoff has faced his former team twice this year, dropping the first meeting and leading his club to a 4-1 win over San Jose on Mar. 6. Overall, the Finn has a 16-13-5 record against the Sharks.
The Flames have had several roster changes over the past week with trades and injuries taking bodies out of the lineup and while winning remains the mission, the coaching staff are also looking to use the remaining games to see where players like the recently recalled Roman Horak and Brett Carson fit.
"We're going to try different things," Hartley said of his lineup tonight. "You will see many different line combinations, many different defensive pairings. That could basically be our pattern until the end of the year. We want to really find out, keep finding out, stuff about our own players, especially the ones that will be calling up from Abby."
With Mark Giordano back in Calgary due to the birth of his first child, the Flames will be dressing every blueliner on the trip tonight: Dennis Wideman, TJ Brodie, Chris Butler, Cory Sarich, Anton Babchuk and Carson.
SHUTTING DOWN THE SHARKS
There is no doubt the Sharks are on a roll; winners of their last six games, the club has been an offensive force as of late as they have outscored their opposition 21-9 during their winning streak.
"We know we have to keep them contained," blueliner TJ Brodie told CalgaryFlames.com. "They have some big, skilled guys. You have to take their time and space away. It's tough against a team like that, who seem to find the open ice, so you have to have good sticks, try to deflect pucks away and poke pucks off their sticks.
"You have to separate them from the puck."
Meanwhile, the Sharks feel that they are in the same position with the Flames. Head coach Todd McLellan cautioned his team about Calgary's offensive prowess before they hit the ice for their morning skate.
"They have six forwards with 20+ points. That puts them, I think, number three in the league behind Boston and Anaheim. They can still score goals, they can score a lot of them. They're dangerous on the power play. They'll have that going for them.
"They'll also be a grumpy group, I expect. I really think we're going to have our hands full."
WHAT THE OPPOSITION ARE SAYING
"I expect that they're going to play their best. Obviously, we know ourselves that after a tough game, you get back to the simple things and doing things the right way. I'm sure they've gone over video, went over their mistakes and they'll be ready to go tonight." - Patrick Marleau on the Flames
LAST SEASON IN SAN JOSE ...
The Flames split their two-game 2011-12 set in San Jose, dropping their first game 2-1 in a shootout on Jan. 17, 2012 before picking up a 4-3 victory on Feb. 8, 2012.
Last year's scoring leaders against the Sharks were Jarome Iginla (2-3-5), Olli Jokinen (3-1-4) and Chris Butler (1-1-2). The Flames scoring percentage versus San Jose in 2011-12 was 7.2, connecting eight times on 111 shots.
"We are going to invest some ice time in some younger players and see how they'll go. So while winning remains our top priority, there are going to be some auditions going on too." - Flames head coach Bob Hartley
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Lee Stempniak needs 1 point for 300.
Dennis Wideman needs 1 assist for 200.
Cory Sarich needs 3 points for 150.
Jiri Hudler needs 6 goals for 100.
Mike Cammalleri needs 6 games for 600.