Flames Today: 02.10.13
CalgaryFlames.com reports from Washington, DC
STARTING ON ROAD
When the 2013-14 schedule was released this summer, head coach Bob Hartley poured over it game-by-game for a number of reasons. He wanted to see what the week-by-week and month-by-month match-ups looked like. He perused each set of back-to-back games. He selected the team's off days.
He also wanted to get a handle on what his travel schedule would look like.
The Flames kick off the year in Washington, DC and the bench boss made the decision to fly in on Tuesday so that his charges could be fully acclimatized by the time Thursday's game comes along.
"We wanted to get in early. The time difference and it was a pretty long flight. Last night, we came in early and the boys were able to go and have dinner together," Hartley said after practice at the Verizon Center.
"Today, we had a good practice. We're going to have individual meetings all afternoon and tonight we have a team meal. It's a kick-off to a new season so I thought that with the distance, it was the right thing to do."
Lee Stempniak, a veteran of eight NHL seasons, appreciates this year's schedule as it gives a team full of new faces some extra bonding time before the season begins.
"There's definitely some benefits to starting on the road," he told CalgaryFlames.com. "Just to get to know each other away from the rink goes a long way.
"You get along well at the rink but the guys have families back home - wives, kids - and you don't get to spend a lot of time as a group with people away from the rink. I like going on the road and I think it will go a long way to getting everyone comfortable."
The Flames play back-to-back games on the road this week, hitting Washington (TSN, Sportsnet 960 The FAN) on Thursday and Columbus (SportsnetWest, Sportsnet 960 The FAN) on Friday. Calgary's home opener is set for Sunday at 6:00 PM MST (SportsnetWest, Sportsnet 960 The FAN)
The Flames acquired centre Joe Colborne from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night with the hope the 23-year-old will play a big role on the team. His new journey, however, will not start on Thursday night.
Colborne will not suit up against the Washington Capitals tomorrow evening.
"I told him that we need to cover three and a half weeks of training camp in six, seven days," Hartley explained. "Obviously we want to get there. We went through our playbook. We do lots of video with him.
"I think watching the first game is going to be very important [for him.]"
RAMO READY FOR THE NEXT STEP
On Monday, the Flames released their 23-man opening day roster and designated Karri Ramo as the starting netminder. He has spent the last four seasons in the KHL with Omsk Avangard, solidifying himself as one of the top goaltenders in Russia, but he doesn't see tomorrow's game against the Capitals as a massive change from what he's been doing the past few seasons.
It's just another step forward.
"It's a new start but my hockey career is just continuing," he said. "I'm not doing anything special. I don't have to do anything differently. It's the same game we play."
While he has been named the team's starting goalie, Ramo knows there are a couple of guys nipping at his heels, trying to take that spot away from him. Joey MacDonald, who will back up Ramo, would love to nab the starting job while Reto Berra is just a one-hour plane ride from Calgary, plying his trade in Abbotsford and hoping to earn a call-up.
"I don't think it's any different than any other team [I've been on.] You have to play well if you want to play. Being a goalie, there is a lot of pressure and I don't think it's that much different here than it is anywhere else."
"I'm going to try to play as good as I can. I know that there are some points I have to develop and some things that I've got to do better out there." - Sven Baertschi on his personal challenges this year