Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Lightning
Notes from the Flames pre-game skate at the Scotiabank Saddledome
STEMPNIAK IN, BOUMA DOUBTFUL
Lee Stempniak missed practice on Thursday due to the flu but was back on the ice this morning for the pre-game skate. Barring a relapse, the veteran forward will play tonight. Unfortunately, Lance Bouma has fallen ill and is very doubtful for tonight's contest.
"Probably for a month, it's been sort of going around," Stempniak said. "Unfortunately, we're just so close in the room, sharing everything. And then on the plane, you're just in such close quarters. I think it's bound to be spread around."
RAMO GETS THE START
Karri Ramo will start tonight against the team that drafted in the sixth round of the 2004 NHL Draft but to the Finn, this is just another game.
"It's nice to play against them but they've changed a lot," Ramo explained. "The organization has changed a lot since I was there. There's new owners ... there's a new GM, new coach. Not too many players [left]."
GETTING OFF THE SCHNEID
The Flames offence has been stymied in recent games and they have been held to just one goal in their last three games. Tonight's battle with the Lightning won't provide any sort of relief when it comes offensive production either. On average, they allow 2.32 goals per game - seventh best in the league. They have allowed just 93 goals this season - fourth best in the league.
Instead of trying to complicate things and force plays, Stempniak feels the key to kick-starting the Flames offence is going back to the basics.
"It sounds like a cliche but I think getting shots ... we don't shoot the puck very much," Stempniak stated. "I think we did a better job against Philadelphia doing that."
On a personal standpoint, the winger is going through a scoring drought. He has gone 11 games without a point - his last goal coming on Dec. 7 against Edmonton - but has been garnering more chances as of late. He is also bringing a simplistic approach to his game as he tries to break out of his slump.
"Personally, for me, just try to be around the net a little more and not pass up shots. Never look for the perfect play. If you can get a shot on net, take it.
"The puck is always going to end up back at the net so when it doubt, just try to hang around the net and find a loose puck."
Tampa has received superb netminding throughout the season. Ben Bishop has gone 21-5-3 in 30 starts this year, is tied for second in the NHL in wins and has allowed more than two goals in only five games this year.
At 6-foot-7, Bishop has a great range of vision and he covers the bottom of the half of the net extremely well. However, the Flames have scouted the Denver, CO native and want to capitalize on his weak spots tonight.
"He's a really big guy. I think you've got to shoot for rebounds sometimes. You can't always shoot to score," Mark Giordano said. "He blocks the bottom of the net so if we can use his pads, maybe that will help.
"When we're in tight, we have to go upstairs on him for sure."
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Ladislav Smid needs 3 games for 500.
Lee Stempniak needs 3 games for 600.
TJ Galiardi needs 7 points for 100.
Derek Smith needs 7 games for 100.
Jiri Hudler needs 9 games for 500.
Tonight's game will be broadcast on Sportsnet West (TV) and Sportsnet 960 The FAN (radio).