Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Rangers
Notes from the Flames practice at the Scotiabank Saddledome
The Calgary Flames look move past yesterday’s abrupt practice as they welcome the New York Rangers to Scotiabank Saddledome tonight.
The squad had their practice cut short yesterday after head coach Bob Hartley felt that the team wasn’t ready to work. But Hartley insisted that the punctuated practice was not as big of a deal as it was made out to be.
“[Today] was a good day, the boys were sharp and back on track,” Hartley said. “We have a big game tonight, the Rangers are playing well.”
Hartley’s short practice tactic did not go unnoticed by the team, and players admitted that they could use yesterday as a good way to refresh mentally.
“Sometimes mentally you get away from it [focus],” captain Mark Giordano said. “We made sure we took care of ourselves off the ice yesterday.”
The defenceman added that the Flames will be prepared despite only having a 14 minute practice on Thursday.
“Today was a good pre-game skate,” Giordano said. “We are ready for tonight’s game for sure.”
RUMBLING WITH THE RANGERS
The Flames play their last game at home in the month of March tonight, having posted a record of 5-3-0 at home in that time.
New York enters tonight’s game on a five-game winning streak and will be starting a four-game road trip starting at the ‘Dome.
Ranger’s defenceman Ryan McDonagh has had a point in each of the teams five wins putting in three goals for New York and adding four assists in that span.
The Flames forwards know that they will have to take him off his game to have a chance at winning tonight.
“He is a top defenceman in this league for sure," Joe Colborne said. “The New York hockey market isn’t one of the easiest ones to play in, but he’s obviously found an unbelievable situation there."
The 24-year-old has played in difficult hockey markets before and can see why McDonagh is having such a strong season in just his third full season in the league from past experiences.
“I remember playing against him when I was at [University of] Denver and he was with [the University of] Wisconsin,” Colborne said. “You could he was going to be a really good player at the pro level."
The Rangers top line of Rick Nash, Brad Richards and the recently-acquired Martin St. Louis has struggled during their winning streak contributing just four goals (three from Nash, one from Richards,) and one assist (St Louis) in the past five games.
The Flames defence knows what kind of scoring talent those three bring to a game, but they also understand what they have to do to continue their recent struggles.
“You can’t give them too much time with the puck,” TJ Brodie said. “At the same time you have to be smart positional and stay between them and the net.”
THE CITY OF NEW YORK VS. KENNY AGOSTINO
Rookie forward Kenny Agostino will return to the lineup tonight after sitting Wednesday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks.
The 21-year-old will be playing his fourth career NHL game against the team he grew up cheering for while living in New Jersey.
“I’m not rooting for the Rangers anymore, let’s make that clear,” Agostino joked with the media.
The Flanders, NJ native explained that his parents and siblings were Rangers fans and he grew up cheering for the team as well. He cites Mark Messier, Adam Graves and Mike Richter as some of his favourite Rangers growing up.
“I don’t think any of my friends in New Jersey are cheering for the Rangers tonight, including my family,” Agostino said. “I think we’re all Flames fans now.”
Agostino, who signed with the Flames last week, is still searching for his first NHL point, and admitted that he wouldn’t mind scoring against his childhood team.
WHO IS HOT
Mark Giordano has 15 points in the past 14 games. He has tied his career high of 43 points and set a new career high with 12 goals. He is second amongst NHL defencemen in points-per-game with 0.78%.
Mike Cammalleri has 16 points in the past 13 games. He has scored the game-winning goal in four of the last five Flames wins.
Mikael Backlund has nine points in the past nine games.
Tyler Wotherspoon has a three-game point streak.
“I’d like to point out that maybe they [Cammalleri and Backlund] did not get on the score sheet, but they also played against the top lines from those two team and those guys were not visible also.” - Bob Hartley on Mike Cammalleri and Mikael Backlund going pointless against the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks.
All-time vs. the Rangers: 53-35-15-4-1
All-time vs. the Rangers in Calgary: 29-11-10-2-0
Last 10 games vs. the Rangers: 4-3-0-2-1
Last 10 games vs. the Rangers in Calgary: 5-1-2-2-0
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Mike Cammalleri is 6 points from 500.
Kris Russell is 7 assists from 100.
Mark Giordano is 7 points away from 200.
Tonight's game will be aired on Sportsnet-Flames at 7:00 PM MST. Sportsnet 960 The FAN will carry the radio broadcast, which also can be accessed on the Flames official app.