A packed house was on-hand for the fourth day of Calgary Flames camp. The stands were the fullest they’ve been – I’d estimate somewhere just south of 1,000 fans in attendance – as the Flames had a mixed session of practice and scrimmage.
NEWS AND NOTES
The big news today was that Flames captain Jarome Iginla joined the main group for practice and the scrimmage. While the captain wasn’t the best player on the ice, he definitely hadn’t lost a step nor looked out of place.
Word leaked out from the NHL offices late yesterday that teams have to finalize their rosters by 3pm ET (1pm Calgary time) on Friday. That means that the Flames have two more on-ice sessions to decide who stays and who goes, and then to estimate the status of Anton Babchuk (shoulder), Roman Cervenka (blood) and Jiri Hudler (death in the family).
Several Abbotsford Heat players went through waivers yesterday. The reason? When the players were assigned to the AHL originally, on the day of the CBA’s expiry, there wasn’t really a mechanism for them to go through "real" waivers and so the NHL and the NHLPA came up with a temporary waivers measure. The five players in question – Akim Aliu, Paul Byron, Krys Kolanos, Joe Piskula and Ben Walter – were thus defaulted to the NHL roster when the new CBA began and had to clear waivers to be assigned to the farm. Thus, Paul Byron and Leland Irving would need to go through waivers to return to the Heat (as would Brett Carson and anybody else on an NHL deal).
It was another lengthy, up-tempo day, split into two parts. The focus of the entire day was special teams, with a lot of time being devoted to the power-play.
Ten players wore black jerseys to start and were the two power-play units:
Unit 1: Glencross / Cammalleri / Iginla / Wideman / Tanguay
Unit 2: Baertschi / Backlund / Stempniak / Giordano / Bouwmeester
Everyone else was on the PK (16 players) and they cycled through four groups, constantly putting the power-play groups up against fresh killing units.
Following this, the team broke into lines and began a more systems-based practice focusing on breakouts and odd-man rushes.
Glencross – Tanguay – Iginla
Baertschi – Backlund – Cammalleri
Horak – Stajan – Stempniak
Comeau – Jones – Jackman
Begin/Byron – Jones – Winchester
Giordano – Bouwmeester
Butler – Wideman
Smith – Sarich
Brodie – Carson
Breen – McCarthy
After a ten-minute break, the Flames returned for a special teams focused scrimmage. Calgary-born winger Blair Yaworski suited up for Team Red. He last played with the Alaska Aces, but primarily spent time as his team’s designated penalty-box dweller.
- Glencross / Cammalleri / Iginla / Wideman / Tanguay
- Comeau / Jones / Jackman / Smith / Breen
- Winchester / Byron / Begin / Carson / McCarthy
- Baertschi / Backlund / Stempniak / Giordano / Bouwmeester
- Horak / Stajan / Street / Brodie / Butler / Sarich
The teams cycled through 5-on-4 and 5-on-3 advantages, with Black getting power-play time to begin and then Red getting their man-advantages.
Team Black opened the scoring on a 5-on-3 advantage, with Mike Cammalleri finishing off a fairly slick passing play also involving Dennis Wideman and Alex Tanguay. Outside of that, though, Team Black’s power-play units didn’t set the world on fire.
That designation belongs to Mikael Backlund’s power-play unit. Backlund scored three goals, consecutively, powering Red to a 4-1 win. Roman Horak had the other goal for Red, set up by Ben Street. Not surprisingly, Backlund’s line with Baertschi and Horak was the best for either team.
Flames coach Bob Hartley noted after the session that Iginla looked good, Backlund looked good and Miikka Kiprusoff will be given a day off on Thursday. The format for goaltenders has been Kiprusoff in one net the entire time (for the last four days of ice-time) while Henrik Karlsson and Leland Irving split a net on the other end of the ice.
Beyond that, decisions await the Flames coaching staff and management, as cuts loom on Friday.