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Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Predators

Notes from the Flames pre-game skate at the Scotiabank Saddledome

Friday, 21.03.2014 / 12:05 PM / News
By Andrew Halipchuk
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Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Predators
Notes from the Flames pre-game skate at the Scotiabank Saddledome

WOTHERSPOON'S GROWTH

The Calgary Flames wraps up a two-game home stand tonight when they play host to Shea Weber and the Nashville Predators.

21-year-old rookie Flames defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon will be playing in just his eighth NHL game but his play has been improving ever game he’s in.

“[My play has changed] confidence wise, the nerves have settled down,” Wotherspoon said. “I’m more confident with the puck and making plays [compare to my first game].”

Wotherspoon, who was called up March 7, has played in every game for the Flames since being called up from Calgary’s AHL affiliate the Abbotsford Heat. Wotherspoon has been paired up with Ladislav Smid in each of his seven games and will be paired up with Smid again tonight.

“He’s guy who has been around and is well established in this league, he’s talked to me off the ice and has taught me everything knows,” Wotherspoon said. “Every day in practice I learn a lot from him, especially first hand.”

Smid was acquired by the Flames last November from the Edmonton Oilers, and has seemed to find his stride in Calgary since returning from the Olympics in late February.

“I think that they [Smid and Wotherspoon] compliment themselves very well, both are tough guys who play hard and simple, but at the same time are very effective,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “I think that Smidy has done a very good job with the kid [Wotherspoon].”

In his first seven games as a Flame, Wotherspoon is a minus-two with one assist and four penalty minutes, while averaging 11:37 minutes per game.

“He is a young upcoming guy who is humble to be here and I’m just trying to help him,” Smid said. “He’s doing the little things right and working hard.

“That’s going to get him far.”

SHUTTING DOWN SHEA

Shea Weber, the man with the most feared shot in the NHL comes to the Scotiabank Saddledome Friday night.

Predator’s Captain has 16 goals and 28 assists this season for a team leading 44 points. In what has been one of his most productive years in Nashville, Weber was selected to represent Canada at the Olympic Games this past February.

“The most dangerous part of him is his shot,” Flames captain Mark Giordano said. “It’s his weapon offensively.”

During the Olympics Weber netted two goals and added four assists en route to Canada’s second straight Olympic gold medal.

Weber’s shot is not only a threat to score, but also a threat to cause injury. During a game against the Ottawa Senators on March 10, Weber injured Sens goaltender Craig Anderson and rookie defenceman Cody Ceci with his shot. Ceci has not missed a game but left early in that game against Weber, while Anderson has not started a game since.

The Flames are currently second in blocked shots in the NHL, and fifth in blocked shots at home. Flames players are prepared to have to step in front of or lie down to block a shot of Weber’s.

“He’s got a big shot, but you got to be willing to do it,” said Flames forward Lance Bouma, who leads all Calgary forwards in blocked shots this season with 69.

“If the time comes, I’m going to try and get in front of it [Weber’s shot] to try and help out my team,” Wotherspoon said. “He’s a guy you got to watch at all times, you can’t be caught sleeping when he’s on the ice.”

WHO IS HOT

Mark Giordano has 11 points in the past 10 games (2g+9a=11p) including assists in four straight games.

Michael Cammalleri has 10 points (7g+3a=9p) in the past nine games and a five game point streak.

Mikael Backlund has three goals and three assists in the past five games.

QUOTABLE

“The first game is not a good gauge. I’ve seen kids score two or three goals in their first game and then disappear." - Bob Hartley on players coming into their first NHL game and how the fans should not look too much into it.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Calgary’s all-time record vs NSH: 26-26-4-2-0

All-time record Nashville at Calgary: 15-8-3-2-0

Last 10 games Calgary vs. Nashville: 4-6-0-0

Last 10 games Nashville at Calgary: 7-3-0-0

SPECIAL TEAMS BLAZING ON HOME ICE

The Flames have allowed just 10 power play goals on home ice this season and they've scored eight short-handed markers this year. That minus-two differential? It's currently the best on home ice since expansion in 1967-68.

The next best differential on home ice came in the 1995-96 season when Detroit allowed 14 power play markers and scored 11 short-handed goals for a minus-three differential.

BROADCAST INFO

Tonight's game will be broadcast on Sportsnet West (television) and Sportsnet 960 The FAN (radio) at 7:00 PM MST.