Preview: Flames vs. Rangers
The Flames host the Rangers in the first of two pre-season tilts at the Saddledome this week
CALGARY, AB -- With the pre-season nearing an end, Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley expects to see the intensity level of Monday's exhibition game versus the New York Rangers mirror that of a regular season outing.
And that, according to the bench boss, is a perfect situation for the organization to evaluate some of their rookies.
"It's going to start looking like NHL games," he said on Sunday morning. "Rookie camp, intra-squad games ... is this NHL hockey? No. Tomorrow, (they're) going to get a good taste of what the NHL can bring.
"Some guys are in their final exam period."
A few of the players Hartley was referencing are Michael Ferland, Max Reinhart, Sean Monahan and Corban Knight. All four desperately want to be on the Flames opening night roster and Hartley stressed the importance of making an excellent impression on Monday night.
"They better study all night because tomorrow is a big exam. It's just like in high school."
ONE PLAYER, MULTIPLE ROLES
TJ Galiardi is a very versatile forward and Hartley plans to utilize him as such. The Calgary, AB native can play all three forward positions and where he ends up on opening night is basically up to the rookie forwards pushing for roster spots.
"Gali will play this game at the wing, next game he's going to be at centre," Hartley said. "Our best kids will dictate where Galiardi will play. So, if our best kids are at the wing, Galiardi will play centre. If our best kids are at centre, Galiardi will play on the wing.
"He knows that and is fine with that. Gali is kind of my safety valve."
Galiardi is set to play on a line with Monahan and Knight on Monday. He will take the left wing, Knight will be on the right and Monahan will centre the pair.
Karri Ramo will start against the Rangers and is expected to go the distance, playing the full game. Veteran Joey MacDonald will back him up. Swiss netminder Reto Berra will likely get the start on Wednesday versus the Phoenix Coyotes.
"They're all in the same boat right now," Hartley said of the three remaining goaltenders. "I can't say that one is ahead of the other. It's a three-man battle.
"We know what we can get from Mac so that's why Karri is in this game and on Wednesday, we'll probably see Berra."
With the team having a clear-cut starter in Miikka Kiprusoff for close to a decade, some coaches may be a tad anxious about not having their goaltending situation completely sorted at this point in training camp.
Having three 'tenders pushing hard to land that the starting role is a good problem to have.
"Every day, we're taking notes and we're discussing with Clint (Malarchuk, goaltending coach) and the coaching staff. It's going to be thing where basically, they have to prove themselves on a daily basis."
The Rangers made six cuts last week and their active roster is as follows:
Goaltenders: Martin Biron, Henrik Lundqvist, Cam Talbot
Defencemen: Conor Allen, Stu Bickel, Michael Del Zotto, Justin Falk, Dan Girardi, Tommy Hughes, Aaron Johnson, Ryan McDonagh, Dylan McIlrath, John Moore, Marc Staal, Anton Stralman, Danny Syvret
Forwards: Arron Asham, Brian Boyle, Derick Brassard, Ryan Callahan, Derek Dorsett, Jesper Fast, Carl Hagelin, Micheal Haley, Marek Hrivik, Michael Kantor, Chris Kreider, Danny Kristo, Oscar Lindberg, Brandon Mashinter, J.T. Miller, Dominic Moore, Rick Nash, Benoit Pouliot, Darroll Powe, Taylor Pyatt, Brad Richards, Andrew Yogan, Mats Zuccarello
As per Blueshirts United, Lundqvist will get the start in Calgary.
"This year, it's going to be about accountability. I don't care about contracts, I'm not a banker. Your performance will dictate your ice time." - Hartley