Just like last year, the Calgary Flames open their preseason with a split squad affair with the Vancouver Canucks, with games at the Saddledome and Rogers Arena (7pm, Sportsnet Radio FAN 960/8 pm, Sportsnet West). Neither team Vancouver is sending is what you’d call stacked, however the team they’re sending to Calgary certainly isn’t rife with tenured NHLers.
It’s the first on ice test in a real competitive environment for most of the guys, even with the scrimmage the team had on Monday afternoon. Calgary’s teams are a little more competitive, and especially the game at the Saddledome, they should be the team that carries the play.
We’ll start with the team in Calgary, who will start Miikka Kiprusoff in net before likely being relieved by Henrik Karlsson around the midway mark. Kiprusoff’s off season training program has apparently been a little more ramped up this summer than in the past, so we’ll see how he looks to start the fall. Brining Karlsson in in relief is an important excercise as it’s something he’ll have to do over the course of the season. Here are lines and pairings:
Alex Tanguay-Paul Byron-Rene Bourque
Lee Stempniak-Matt Stajan-Turner Elson
Ryan Howse-Lance Bouma-Tim Jackman
Tom Kostopoulos-Olli Jokinen-Greg Nemisz
Scott Hannan-Mark Giordano
Brendan Mikkelson-Jordan Henry
T.J. Brodie-James Martin
Names like Bouma, Henry and Brodie are the ones that will likely be getting the closest looks from fans and coaches alike, as they’re the players knocking on the NHL door loudest at this point. I spoke to Mikkelson this morning, and he’s fired up to try and force his way into the lineup, and his preseason will be an interesting one.
Calgary is sending a fairly solid squad to Vancouver as well, with two scoring lines, a pretty good top pairing and a number of younger bubble players to watch and evaluate. Mikael Backlund scored twice in the practice scrimmage Monday, and he’ll be one to watch on his line with Sven Baertschi and Niklas Hagman.
Curtis Glencross-David Moss-Patrick Holland
Sven Baertschi-Mikael Backlund-Niklas Hagman
Michael Ferland-Roman Horak-Quintin Laing
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond-Carter Bancks-Guilluame Desbiens
Chris Butler-Jay Bouwmeester
Derek Smith-Anton Babchuk
Clay Wilson-Joe Piskula
Leland Irving will get the start in net and it’s expected he’ll go the whole way with Joni Ortio serving as his backup. Irving needs the game time, as Abbotsford does not have a preseason this year.
Yeah, as referenced as above, this is not the A squad for the Canucks coming to Calgary. It isn’t even the B squad…we’re talking about the C- or D squad to be perfectly honest, but there are some interesting names involved. Manny Legace is one of the goaltenders making the trip, as he tries to reclaim a spot in the NHL, or more likely pro hockey. See if you can’t recognize some names from the past in this group:
Mike Duco-Cody Hodgson-Victor Oreskovich
Niko Dimitrakos-Nathan Longpre-Mark Mancari
Darren Archibald-Steve Begin-Todd Fedoruk
Steven Anthony-Alex Friesen-Alexandre Grenier
Kevin Connauton-Anders Eriksson
Alexander Sulzer-Frank Corrado
Andrew Alberts-Sebastien Erixon
Legace and Matt Climie are the goaltending duo making the trip, so we’ll see how they’re utilized; Climie is expected to get the start. So, remember Niko Dimitrakos? Or Steve Begin? Or Todd Fedoruk? OR ANDERS ERIKSSON? Bubba is back on Saddledome ice, a surface he graced and dominated for so long wearing a flaming C. Okay, maybe not, but it’s still funny he plays hockey. The team in Vancouver looks like this:
Marco Sturm-Andrew Ebbett-Owen Nolan
Steven Pinizzotto-Jordan Schroeder-Niklas Jensen
Aaron Volpatti-Maxim Lapierre-Anton Rodin
Matt Clackson-Antoine Roussel-Kellan Tochkin
Keith Ballard-Chris Tanev
Yann Sauve-Ryan Parent
Aaron Rome-Adam Polasek
Eddie Lack and Cory Schneider are the two goaltenders going for the Canucks. There’s a few more notable names involved for Vancouver at Rogers Arena, but even still, it’s not what you’d call overly special. Jensen was very good at the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton while Nolan is similar to so many other guys in Vancouver, playing on a tryout.
It’s the preseason, the Canucks aren’t sending much of a lineup to Calgary, and we’re at day four of training camp. So it is what it is, but it’s NHL hockey, so it’ll be better than no NHL hockey!