Morning Skate Report: Flames at Senators
News and notes as the Flames get set to take on the Ottawa Senators
The Calgary Flames will open up a five-game road swing against the Ottawa Senators tonight.
The road stint takes them to Toronto on Tuesday and then through the sunny confines of Florida to face the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning before finally coming to a close against the New Jersey Devils.
This marks the third five-game trip of the season for the Flames and long trips haven't been kind to the club. The two previous times they have embarked on such ventures they have come away with just one victory.
SMID SIDELINED, BILLINS RECALLED
Flames blueliner Ladislav Smid did not make the trip for Calgary.
The 28-year-old left the game Friday against the New York Rangers with an upper body injury and did not return after a collision with Rangers forward Derek Dorsett. It's not known how long Smid will be out.
As a result, the Flames have summoned defenceman Chad Billins from the Abbotsford Heat.
The Port Huron, MI native has suited up in two NHL contests this season and has recorded a pair of assists. Billins made his NHL debut on Nov. 5 in Minnesota.
Billins has 10 goals and 30 assists in 62 appearances this season in the American Hockey League and is seventh in league scoring among defenceman.
He will be paired up with Tyler Wotherspoon for the game in Ottawa tonight.
"We love the two [players] together and I think they can complement [each other] very well," Hartley said. "With [Giordano] and [Brodie] and Russell and [Butler], I feel like the chemistry between those guys is unbelievable, they’re playing real well so instead of changing three pairs of defenceman we thought it was best to put the kids together.
"Billins can skate real well and [Wotherspoon] can defend really well so I think they’re going to be a real good pair together."
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
The Flames inked Bryce Van Brabant to a two-year entry level contract.
The Morinville, AB native joined the Flames in Ottawa late Saturday and will take in the game from the press box tonight. The 22-year-old will make his NHL debut on Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"We’re going to let him settle down like we’ve done with every other young player who has joined us so tonight he will not be dressed [tonight]," Hartley explained. "We’ll have someone from the organization sit with him and kind of explain to him our system how the game is being played so that he can recognize some situations.
"Tomorrow we will do video with him, we’ll get him in practice and then in Toronto, against the Leafs, he will make his NHL debut."
Van Brabant's Quinnipiac was eliminated by Providence College in the NCAA East Regional semifinal Friday.
Since then it's been a bit of a whirlwind.
"I talked to my agent and got some offers so I had to make a decision pretty quick," Van Brabant said. "Going through the emotions, I was a wreck for a while and didn’t get much sleep but it’s nice to be over with and finally have [made] the decision."
In 40 games this season, he recorded 15 goals and 22 points -- both career highs. His 113 penalty minutes were also a single season best. In all, the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder had 24 goals and 42 points in 115 games in the ECAC.
Prior to attending Quinnipiac, the 22-year-old spent three seasons playing for the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, scoring 22 goals and 47 points in 151 career games.
Van Brabant has some familiarity with the Flames. He was invited to the annual development camp last summer and liked what he saw.
"I came to development camp last year and I was familiar with everybody," he said. "I like what they had implemented and they systems they had.
"I felt like it was just a great fit for me."
Sean Monahan suited up for the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League for three seasons. The Brampton, ON native returns to his home province tonight and will have a large contingent of fans tonight and Tuesday in Toronto.
"It’s going to be cool," said Monahan. "I spent three years here playing junior and I have a lot of friends and family and stuff that are going to be here tonight and I think it’s going to be a special game."
Monahan will also face his former 67's teammate tonight, defenceman Cody Ceci.
"I have been talking to him quite a bit," he said of Ceci. "We keep in touch and we’re good friends so I think it’s always cool to play against him and I’m looking forward to it.
"We talk a lot and we talk about the adjustments and stuff like that. We always keep in touch and help each other out and I think it’s something we’ll have forever."
In 185 games with the 67's, Monahan recorded 84 goals and 119 assists.
"I think he sees a lot of open doors. We love what Bryce brought to development camp, he’s a big body [and we’re] looking to get this team bigger and tougher. He’s a good all-around player, he’s a hard worker and can grind it out."
-Bob Hartley describes the newest Flames player, Bryce van Brabant
All-time vs. the Senators: 16-11-4-1
All-time vs. the Senators in Ottawa: 5-6-3-0
Last 10 games vs. the Senators: 7-2-1-0
Last 10 games vs. the Senators in Ottawa: 5-1-2-2
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Mike Cammalleri is 4 points from 500.
Kris Russell is 7 assists from 100.
Mark Giordano is 6 points away from 200.
Tonday's game will be aired on Sportsnet-West at 3:00 PM MST. Sportsnet 960 The FAN will carry the radio broadcast, which also can be accessed on the Flames official app.