Flames Today: 02.01.14
Dennis Wideman is anxious to get back into the lineup
CHOMPING AT THE BIT
Defenceman Dennis Wideman is set to make his return to the lineup tomorrow night against the Tampa Bay Lightning and he can't wait to get back to work.
"You never want to get injured, you never want to sit out, so any time you're watching games, it's awful tough," he said after the Flames hour-long practice on Thursday. "At first, when you know you can't play, it's not quite as hard. But when you're closer to coming back, you feel like you could be going, that's when it starts to get really tough."
The blueliner has missed 16 games with a fractured hand, a malady he sustained on Nov. 27 in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks. The toughest part for Wideman was time it took for the injury to heal. Until he was able to get a full range of motion in his hand, he was stuck waiting.
"As soon as it was strong enough that I could start using it, getting the flexibility back in it ... it's been good. That was probably the hardest part, getting the flexibility and being able to squeeze the stick."
Wideman hasn't suffered any setbacks since he began skating, an extremely positive sign due to the amount of usage a player's hand gets both in practice and in games.
"The doc did a pretty good job and we put a plate in it so I was able to use it a lot quicker than normal. It hasn't really affected me at all. It's felt good since I started skating last week."
Wideman's return could provide a big lift to the Flames offence - a part of their game that has struggled mightily over the last three games.
"Offensively, Wides brings an element. [He has] great vision, great shot, he's a very good passer," head coach Bob Hartley said. "It's a very good addition for us."
The rearguard's return won't just be felt on the ice. The veteran's presence in the locker room should provide a boost for his teammates.
"Dennis is a big part of the team," TJ Galiardi said. "He's a great player. It's refreshing."
In the past three games, the Flames have scored just one goal and their power play has been shutdown by the opposition. The chances have been coming - they have put 69 shots on net in those three games - but they haven't been able to capitalize.
Mikael Backlund wants to see he and his teammates get a bit more physical in front of the net and make life difficult for the opposition's defencemen.
"We've been working on getting a little more screens in front of the net, getting a little dirtier," the pivot said. "That's how you score goals in this league. It's something we got away from a bit in the last few games."
STEMPNIAK MISSES SKATE
Forward Lee Stempniak did not participate in practice on Thursday due to illness. An update on his status will be provided tomorrow in the Morning Skate Report.
FACING HIS FORMER TEAM
Hartley confirmed Karri Ramo would get the start in net tomorrow against the Lightning. Ramo was drafted by Tampa Bay in the sixth round of the 2004 NHL Draft and played 48 games for the Lightning before going to the KHL.
"You hear the old line, 'As long as you're getting chances, it's okay.' But even that gets old after awhile. We've got to just keep going to the net and maybe one will go off of our chest. It seems like it happens to us all the time so it's frustrating right now, as you can tell." - TJ Galiardi on the Flames lack of offence
The Flames take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:00 PM MST on Friday. The game will be broadcast on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The FAN.