Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Wild
Notes from the Flames pre-game skate at the Xcel Energy Center
ANOTHER NIGHT, ANOTHER NHL DEBUT
The a second straight game, the Flames will have a player make their NHL debut. Defenceman Chad Billins will slot into the lineup tonight, playing alongside veteran Shane O'Brien who managed to sneak into the rearguard's post-practice scrum and ask how he felt about being paired up with him in his first NHL game.
"I'm excited to play with OB, a veteran presence back there," he chuckled. "I'm gonna feed him for the one-timers."
Head coach Bob Hartley informed Billins that he would be in the lineup last night after dinner in Minnesota. While this is obviously a milestone in his career, Billins is relatively calm about the situation and even managed to get in a good sleep last night.
"I called my parents right away and actually they're one their way out and my two little brothers. It's a pretty exciting time - they're excited, I'm excited - but we still have a game to play. I've got to stay focused and hopefully get the win."
The Port Huron, MI native had a great start to the season in Abbotsford. He leads the Heat with 5 goals through 10 games and has been a dependable, steady presence on the back-end. He doesn't want to change what has been successful for him with the Heat and is focused on playing his game tonight.
"I don't think you have to do anything too crazy. You just have to play your own game. You play within yourself. Make the good passes out of the zone, stay focused and try to do the little things right."
Billins road roommate Reto Berra played in his first NHL game on Sunday and picked up his first NHL win, backstopping the Flames to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
BERRA BACK IN NET
Hartley has confirmed Berra will get the start tonight. He made 42 saves in the 3-2 win over the Blackhawks on Sunday.
"I didn't think very long [about the decision,]" Hartley smiled.
The Wild are going with Josh Harding in net.
BAERTSCHI, SMITH TO SIT
Hartley announced that forward Sven Baertschi and defenceman Derek Smith will sit as healthy scratches tonight. The decision to sit Baertschi is similar to when he was held out of the lineup earlier this year. The coaching staff wants the youngster to get a better grasp of the game in all three zones.
"We're going to have a video session this afternoon. I told him on the ice that I want to show him where we need an improvement. At the same time, guys like Jackman, McGrattan and Bouma, they're bringing something every day to the table.
"Our number one priority as a coaching staff is to win some games. Number two, we want to make sure that we're a solid team, we're a solid family. We need everyone. The best way to stay in the lineup on a game-to-game basis is to perform."
According to Hartley, the mental aspect of sitting as a healthy scratch is also something a young player can learn from.
"That's part of his challenge. Mental toughness ... is a big part of this deal. This is a business for men. This is the best hockey league in the world."
VS. THE WILD
All-time vs. the Wild: 41-20-4-9
All-time vs. the Wild in Minnesota: 18-13-1-5
Last 10 games vs. the Wild: 6-1-1-2
Last 10 games vs. the Wild in Minnesota: 5-3-1-1
THE OTHER SIDE: COYLE BACK IN
Charlie Coyle has played just one game in four weeks due to a knee sprain but he will return to the Wild's lineup tonight. Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo confirmed the forward is back in and will play on the top line with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu.
"He adds a lot to that line," Yeo said in his post-practice address. "We've seen a lot of shuffling, a lot of moving parts on that side so to get a guy that both Mikko and Zach are not only familiar with but comfortable with, it gives them an opportunity to go out there and play at their best."
"I expect them to come out and compete very hard. I expect them to play their team game and their system very well. These are things that we've seen from them in the past. I think they've got some young players that are doing a very good job for them but I think you have to be impressed with their veteran guys and how they've performed so far. They've certainly been giving teams everything they can handle and obviously coming off a big win, I think they've got a young goalie that showed that he's got a chance to be very good." - Yeo on facing the Flames tonight
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Tim Jackman needs 3 games for 400.
Shane O'Brien needs 3 games for 500.
Dennis Wideman needs 5 games for 600.
TJ Galiardi needs 8 points for 100.
DID YOU KNOW?
Calgary has a 1-1-0 record vs. the Central Division this year.
The Flames are 3-0-1 when scoring first and 4-1-0 when tied after two periods.
Calgary has been in nine one-goal games this season, going 5-2-2.
Tonight's game will be begin on Sportsnet Flames and move over to Sportsnet West after the completion of the Edmonton Oilers game, which begins at 5:30 PM MST. Rob Kerr will provide play-by-play and Charlie Simmer will serve up colour commentary. Sportsnet 960 The FAN will carry the radio broadcast with Peter Maher doing play-by-play and colour commentary from Peter Peter Loubardias.