Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Canucks
Last night in San Jose, 22 year-old defenceman TJ Brodie logged a career-high 26:27 of ice time and was arguably the Flames most effective blueliner, playing in all situations and providing a steadying presence in Calgary's zone all night.
The performance really shouldn't come as a shock to those who have monitored the rearguard's play this season. Brodie's game has grown throughout the year and he has seen his role with the team increase accordingly.
"I've tried to work on my overall game this year," he told CalgaryFlames.com. "Obviously, playing a two-way game and providing offence has always been a part of my game but defence has to come first.
"I'm just trying to do my best every night."
With Derek Smith on shelf with a knee injury and Mark Giordano back in Calgary (birth of his first child), the Flames had to mix and match their defensive pairings in San Jose to see what worked and what didn't.
Brodie spent the bulk of his five-on-five time with veteran Cory Sarich, a player he has lauded in the past for helping him adapt to playing in the NHL. Giordano could join the team tonight so it is unknown if that pairing will pop up tonight or if Bob Hartley and his crew will continue to experiment on the back end.
HORAK SETTLED BACK IN
Last Wednesday can be best be described as whirlwind for Roman Horak. The Abbotsford Heat's leading goal-scorer was recalled that afternoon and immediately inserted into the lineup to fill the void left by the trade of Blake Comeau.
"It was a tough day," the 21 year-old admitted. "I flew in pretty quick, played. But now, I feel good. We had a good practice on Thursday and I got a good sleep in that night. I feel good now, settled in."
He ended playing 14:52 on Wednesday but it appeared the coaching staff was managing his minutes and the situations he played in carefully given the day he had. On Friday night in San Jose, he was bumped up to 15:56 of ice time and was shifted from the wing - where he had been playing in Abbotsford - to centre ice, skating in between Mike Cammalleri and Jiri Hudler.
Horak looked more comfortable last night than he did in the game against the Oilers and the confidence he exuded resulted in a couple of quality scoring chances. He also took 15 draws in San Jose, winning 47 percent of them. His faceoff win percentage was the third best on the team, trailing just Mikael Backlund (67% - 10/15), Tim Jackman (50% - 1/2) and Alex Tanguay (50% - 1/2).
He credited his time in Abbotsford for his increased confidence at this level.
"The time in Abby, it helps a lot," he said. "You play a lot of minutes and get to play in a lot of situations. It really does help."
THIS SEASON IN VANCOUVER ...
The Flames have played the Canucks twice in their own barn, picking up a single point. They fell 3-2 in a shootout on Jan. 23 and were defeated 5-1 on Feb. 9. Miikka Kiprusoff was in net for the 3-2 SO loss while Leland Irving handled the netminding duties on Feb. 9.
Tanguay, Backlund and Lee Stempniak have scored in Vancouver this season.
This is the fourth game of the five-game season series between the Northwest Divisional rivals.
It is still unknown whether the coaching staff will opt to go with Joey MacDonald in net tonight due to the back-to-back situation or if they will elect to place Kiprusoff back in after an all-world performance in San Jose last night.
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 5 games for 600.