Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Blues

News and notes from the morning skate prior to the Flames contest against the St. Louis Blues.

Monday, 23.12.2013 / 1:11 PM / News
By Jason Johnson  - CalgaryFlames.com (@jay__jo)
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Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Blues
News and notes from the morning skate prior to the Flames contest against the St. Louis Blues.

THE RETURN OF J-BO

Former Calgary Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester makes his return to Scotiabank Saddledome for the first time since being dealt to the St. Louis Blues last April.

The trade brought current Flames goaltender Reto Berra along with blueliner Mark Cundari and a 2013 first round draft selection, which the Flames used to grab QMJHL standout Emile Poirier.

The 30-year-old rearguard suited up for 279 regular season games for the Flames over parts of four seasons.

"He’s an interesting guy," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "What people want him to be, he’s not. He’s a different player. A lot of his offensive production is from when he acts like a forward. When he’s attacking the net off the rush is where he gets all of his points."

Bouwmeester has racked up 21 assists and 24 points in 34 games this season as a member of the Blues and is a team best plus-18.

His most productive season offensively in Calgary came in the 2009-2010 campaign where he delivered a 29-point performance.

Hitchcock reiterated the importance of Bouwmeester's role with the club.

"Where he is really good is the more physical the game the better he plays," Hitchcock said. "Him and Petro [Alex Pietrangelo] have been a great pair this season. They eat up minutes and play against top lines every night and to be where they’re at plus/minus has given us the chance to be where we’re at now."

GALIARDI, BREEN DRAW BACK IN

Flames forward TJ Galiardi will draw back into the lineup tonight. The Calgary, AB product skated on a line accompanied by Matt Stajan and Lee Stempniak.

Flames coach Bob Hartley indicated that although the club is in a re-building phase, players must realize they need to come in and work hard every single night.

"You have to play your best and it’s the same rule for every player." Hartley said. "We are part of a re-build and I’ve said it many times, we try as a coaching staff and an organization to fast forward that rebuild and the only way we are going to get there is that everyone has to show up every game with lots of passion and lots of energy and that’s what we expect from everyone."

Galiardi last suited up on December 12th in a match against the Carolina Hurricanes and has been a healthy scratch the past five games. Prior to that he last played on November 20th. In 23 contests this season, the 25-year-old has one goal and five assists.

"I want to get out there and skate, create some opportinutues for my linemates," Galliardi said. "I'm going to be playing with Staj tonight and he does a lot for his teammates so I'll just go to the net and hoepfully he'll find me."

Chris Breen also gets into the lineup covering for injured defenceman Kris Russell. Breen has dressed in three NHL contests this season and hasn't suited up since November 29th in the Flames 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

The hulking blueliner knows what he has to do to make an impression.

"I need to make them (coaching staff) trust me. Show them that I can play at this level and play every night."

BERRA BACK IN NET

Bob Hartley will continue the competition he has created between his two netminders.

The Flames head coach has rewarded his backstops who earn victories with consecutive starts while making a change should the goaltender suffer a loss.

Based on Karri Ramo's 4-3 setback at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday, the coach has turned to Reto Berra for tonight's tilt against the Blues.

INJURIES NO EXCUSE

Hartley and his coaching staff have been challenged, to say the least, with regards to injuries this season.

Not necessarily man games lost but injuries to key players have hampered the club since day one of the 2013-14 campaign. Setbacks to regulars Mike Cammalleri, Mark Giordano, Matt Stajan, David Jones, Lee Stempniak, Dennis Wideman, Sean Monahan and Curtis Glencross have forced many lineup changes and plenty of miles traveled between Calgary and the AHL's Abbotsford Heat.

With the latest news that Glencross and Kris Russell may miss some time, Hartley said those are big holes to fill but it opens up new opportunities for some younger players.

"It opens up the door for some young players to come in like Chris Breen and we called up Smitty so it’s unfortunate but that’s the situation," he said. "We’re not the only ones and you’ll never hear anyone in this organization us the word injuries as an excuse. It’s part of the game, unfortunately."

A FORMIDABLE OPPONENT

St. Louis is fresh off of a 6-0 thumping in Oil Country.

As part of the upper echelon of the very strong Western Conference, the Blues have solidified themselves as one of the best teams in the NHL. Having only lost seven games in regulation this season, St. Louis will prove to be a very tough test for the Calgary Flames.

Flames defenceman TJ Brodie knows the Flames must play a solid, smart game to compete tonight.

"We need to play smart," said the 23-year-old. "Getting pucks on net when we get a chance and making them play a 200 foot game is what we have to do.

"Having a high guy helps us defend the rushes and close the gaps."

"They have some big guys, it’s no different than playing LA or San Jose, teams like that. With the big forwards. You just have to gain body position and get sticks on pucks."

The only other time the Flames faced the Blues was back on November 7th in St. Louis. The Flames fell behind 3-0 but mounted a comeback with a pair of third period goals. They would eventually fall 3-2.

MILESTONES WITHIN REACH

Galiardi needs 7 points for 100.

BROADCAST INFO

Today's game will be aired on Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet 960 The FAN at 6:00 PM MST.