Calgary is final stop on Florida's road swing
PANTHERS (0-2-0) at FLAMES (1-1-0)
TV -- FS-F (HD), SNET-CGY (HD)
Game day update --
Coming into tonight's contest, the biggest question around the Calgary Flames was the blueline. With Adam Pardy
out with a shoulder injury, either Cory Sarich
or Steve Staios
would get back into the lineup after sitting for the last two contests as healthy scratches.
There was speculation the team would dress seven defencemen but that idea was squashed on Thursday morning as head coach Brent Sutter declared that Staios would suit up and Sarich would not.
"It's a decision we made today, as far as who we'd like at this point in time playing tonight. My approach is that we're taking it game-to-game and that hasn't changed. Tonight Stevie will go in and Cory won't play tonight.
"We felt Steve was the right choice for tonight's game."
Staios was unable to contain his smile when asked how he felt about playing in his first game of the season.
"It's definitely exciting. I miss being out there with the guys and being on the ice. I've been preparing for it and I'm ready to go tonight."
The veteran admitted watching his team play from the press box has not been pleasant.
"It's been extremely difficult. It's something that I haven't had to deal with for a long time but it's part of being a team. You handle it the best way you can. You've got to work hard, be a good teammate and be ready to go."
Another Flame will play in his first game of the season on Thursday. Matt Stajan
was medically cleared for contact this week and has been fully participating in team practices.
"I'm very excited," Stajan said when asked if he was ready to go against the Panthers. "I've played all of two or three minutes of hockey this year so I've been itching to get back. I'm just going to go out there, work hard, find my legs and just help the team."
The return of Stajan means Brendan Morrison
will be shuffled to the wing on the second line. Sutter said his experience and versatility as a player made this move possible.
"Mo has played wing before so he's going to get an opportunity tonight to play it. With the other centermen, especially the top three here tonight, their natural positions are centers and they were three guys we had in the mix, in our top four, before we went into all these injury problems. Mo is going to have to move to wing and that's the position he's going to move tonight."
Season series --
It's a one-shot deal between these two as the Panthers make the final stop on their western Canada swing. Florida last visited Calgary on Dec. 12, 2008, a 3-2 shootout win for the Cats. The Flames last paid a visit to South Florida on February 5, 2010 and took a 2-1 victory back home with them.
Big story --
The Panthers started their season out west with a pair of frustrating losses to the Oilers and Canucks. A second-period trifecta of Oiler goals put the Cats behind in the opener and a dose of the Sedin twins kept them out of the point column the following night in Vancouver. The Flames weren't too happy with their opening performance either, a 4-0 loss to provincial rival Edmonton, but bounced back nicely against the highly-touted Kings, a solid 3-1 win at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Coach Peter DeBoer is among many on the team who believe Florida is playing better than its record so far.
"We strung together six real good periods, creating chances. This is a real trap game with them waiting fresh and us playing in back-to-back situations," he told the Sun-Sentinel after the loss in Vancouver. "We competed for 60 minutes. We could easily be sitting here 2-0 right now. I know that doesn't make anyone feel any better, but that's the truth of it."
The Flames' plague of injuries may be letting up just a bit. Short of centers already with the loss of Daymond Langkow (neck) and Ryan Stone
(knee), the impending return of Stajan from a separated shoulder could not have come at a better time. No longer wearing the yellow no-hit jersey in practice Tuesday, he was optimistic about possibly making Thursday's lineup.
"It feels good," Stajan told the Calgary Herald after a particularly intense "old-time hockey" session. "Just try not to think about it. You go out there and play. It didn't give me any issues today. Even with a little contact too, I felt fine.
"That's the first test."
Who's hot --
After allowing four goals to the Oilers in the season opener, Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff
clamped down on the Kings, allowing one goal on 22 shots for the win. … Florida's Marty Reasoner scored twice in the Panthers' loss in Rexall Place; he is currently the only player on either team with more than one goal.
Injury report --
Not counting Stajan, no less than seven Flames grace the list of walking wounded. Rene Bourque
(potential head injury) is day-to-day, as is Raitis Ivanans
with a similar condition. David Moss
(shoulder), Ales Kotalik
(knee) and Adam Pardy
(shoulder) join Stone and Langkow on the indefinite roll. … On the Panthers side, Byron Bitz (groin) was placed on the injured list last week, but his injury is not thought to be too serious.
Stat pack --
Former Panther mainstay Olli Jokinen
played 567 games in south Florida and missed just seven. Jay Bouwmeester
played six seasons with the Panthers. … The Panthers are 0-for-8 on the power play so far, as the Flames would be save for an empty-netter in the closing seconds of the Kings game. On the other hand, the Panthers have allowed no extra-man tallies in only two short-handed opportunities while the Flames have allowed a pair of goals in nine. … The Panthers went penalty-free Monday, the first time they'd done that since the 2008-09 season and only the fourth time in franchise history. They're 2-2 in those games. … The Flames' top line of Jokinen, Jarome Iginla
and Alex Tanguay
has yet to record a point on 22 shots.
Puck drop --
"We just continue to move on. I mean, it's never easy to lose guys. But it is what it is, and your young players get the opportunity to be put in situations they maybe they wouldn't normally be put in … as with others." -- Flames coach Sutter in the Calgary Herald on the early rash of injuries.