Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Sharks
Lee Stempniak will return to the lineup tonight
Lee Stempniak has been skating with the team for the past couple of days since he wasn't medically cleared to play on Sunday or Monday, head coach Bob Hartley couldn't confirm if the winger would return to the lineup in the Flames clash with the San Jose Sharks.
However, the bench boss was able to confirm it this morning as the winger was given the go-ahead from the medical staff and will jump back into the lineup after missing seven games with a broken foot.
When asked how he was feeling, Stempniak replied that he believes he is back to 100 per cent and noted that all the time he has spent working out has ensured he's in tip-top shape.
"We did a lot of stuff in the gym. It's almost harder being injured, at times, with all the time you spend in the gym. I've skated, I think, five or six times.
"I feel really good. Yesterday and today, I didn't notice it or think of it or was aware of it on the ice. I'm just ready to go."
"He understands the game and he understands what those two youngsters go through. I'm always trying to give Sven and Mony a veteran presence around them. I think we have some great leaders ... everyone is taking care of all the young players on the team.
"[I'm] just trying to [add] a little experience and at the same time, whether it's Jiri or whether it's Stempy, there's lots of skill on that line."
The winger is looking forward to hopping onto that line and feels that he and his new linemates can give the team an offensive boost.
"I think we just need to be consistent out there. They both are really talented and show flashes out there. At times, I think they beat themselves up a little bit too much when things don't go their way.
"Things are going happen. Mistakes are going to happen. But you've got to be ready for the next opportunity. As long as we're skating and driving the play in the offensive zone, their natural talent will take over and we can have some success."
Prior to getting injured, Stempniak had nine points (four goals, five assists) in 10 games.
Reto Berra has suited up for three games in the NHL over the last week and a half but all of those came on the Flames four-game road swing. Tonight, he will get his first regular season start at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
"Have fun," was Hartley's advice for the netminder. "Obviously it's always a big game to play in front of your fans. But he just has to bring the same game as he did in Chicago."
Another player making not only his Saddledome debut, but also his Flames debut, is defenceman Ladislav Smid. Acquired on Friday from the Edmonton Oilers, Smid has gotten into two practices with his new team and is anxious to get going.
"I'm super excited for tonight's game. After a couple days of practice, kind of settling down, finally I'm going to get a chance to play for the Flames, show what I've got."
Hartley is looking forward to see his new charge in action tonight. After watching him anchor the Oilers defence over the last seven seasons, Hartley got a good feel for what Smid brings to the table and feels it is exactly what his team needs.
"He was on my wishlist for a long time and now that we've got him, I can tell you that we're going use him a lot."
VS. THE SHARKS
All-time vs. the Sharks: 50-36-8-3
All-time vs. the Sharks in Calgary: 27-16-4-1
Last 10 games vs. the Sharks: 3-5-2
Last 10 games vs. the Sharks in Calgary: 5-4-1
Last season, Mikael Backlund led the Flames in scoring against the Sharks, posting two points (one goal, one assist) in two games. Stempniak trailed him with two points (one goal, one assist) in three games.
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Tim Jackman needs 1 game for 400.
Dennis Wideman needs 2 games for 600.
TJ Galiardi needs 8 points for 100.
"He already seems very comfortable. He has lots of things to find out about us, as individuals, systems, team, but everyone getting traded has to go through this. But I look at him in the room, he's laughing with everyone, he's in the gym. He's a great guy and I think he's very happy to be here." - Hartley on Smid's adjustment to a new team
Tonight's game begins at 7:00 PM MST with Sportsnet West carrying the television broadcast and Sportsnet 960 The FAN.