February 24 2014 10:59AM
(courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
After basically two weeks without National Hockey League action, the games begin again in drips and drabs over the next couple days, then in earnest on Thursday with 12 contests - including the 59th game of the season for the Calgary Flames as they host the LA Kings.
For the Flames, Thursday night kicks off a section of the schedule - the final section, mind you - that features 24 games in 46 days. There will be four sets of back-to-backs in that schedule, and by sheer coincidence there are 12 home games left and 12 road games. It's a veritable sprint to the finish.
In terms of roster stuff, Lee Stempniak is away for personal matters - I haven't heard much in the way of specifics, other than it was expected, which makes me think it's nothing terrible - but I'd imagine he'll be back for Thursday. Ben Hanowski's return to the AHL is probably a sign that Stempniak will be back soon. Curtis Glencross and Brian McGrattan are skating alone, but not yet back in practice. Karri Ramo isn't yet skating. In terms of availability for Thursday, I wouldn't expect them to be in the line-up (especially Ramo), but we'll know more Tuesday as things firm up for the stretch run.
As it stands now, the Flames roster is at 23 (3 goalies, 7 defensemen and 13 forwards) but neither Ramo or McGrattan are on the IR. If the Flames feel it necessary to bring up another forward, they'll probably place Ramo on the IR - he's been hurt long enough that it won't tie the team's hands if he's ready to return quickly.
Looking ahead, we've got lots of trade deadline stuff coming your way, including coverage on deadline day itself. Who's Calgary shopping? Who are they likely to be trying to target, if anybody? (Spoiler: young and cheap or somebody that gets them over the cap floor are your big clues.)
We'll also be looking ahead a bit, as I'm sure Flames management is from time-to-time, with peeks at who's going to be available in the 2014 NHL Draft in June, as well as discussion about the cavalry - in the form of Calgary's junior and college prospects, as many as nine of whom could become pros in 2014-15.
Let us know what you want to see between here and April 13th - other than a few Flames wins - in the comments.